This January the now semi-annual Diverge summer bikepacking trip (2018 | 2020) will venture into the Langeberge to cross the fabled Gysmanshoek Pass. Possibly the only gravel pass that is still open to the public crossing the mountain range which separates the Western Cape’s coastal plains from the Klein Karoo. The pass was forged, in the mid-1700s, by ox wagons trekking into the African interior and measures 11.6 kilometres long, featuring 51 corners and bends. Best known for spectacular fynbos Gysmanshoek has been on the Diverge bucket list for years.
So January 2021 is the time…
When: 4 – 7 January 2021
A four day, 300 kilometre bikepacking adventure. Complete with three nights of camping and a back-up vehicle to carry all our gear. Plus lekker people to ride with at a relatively steady pace. In short it is guaranteed to be a jol.
The plan is to meet in Swellendam on the morning on the 4th of January, and depart for the first overnight spot by mid-day. With just 44 kilometre of riding and 630 metres of climbing we should reach the Noukrans Boskamp with plenty of time to pitch our tents.
On Day 2 we set out for Gysmanshoek. First though we will cross through the farmlands on the southern slopes of the Langeberge and explore bits of the magnificent Grootvadersbosch wilderness area. The fabled gravel pass starts roughly 26 kilometres into the 85 kilometre long day. It accounts for much of the 1 800 metres of ascent the day’s route holds in store. But getting to the foot of the pass is far from easy either and the day also includes an ascent of Garcia Pass, on asphalt, from the easier northern side. The second night’s camping will see us pitch our tents in Riversdale.
Day 3 is the longest of the Tour de Gysmanshoek, but despite its 95 kilometre distance it only includes 1 000 metres of climbing. The route takes us from Riversdale, via the Overberg plains to the Breede River where a trip across the pont ensures a memorable finish to the day. On the final day the route returns us to Swellendam, once again crossing the Malgas Pont before following the eastern banks of the Breede River for 55 kilometres to the finish in South Africa’s third oldest town.
Tour de Gysmanshoek Route Details
Day 1 | 4 January 2021:
Arrive: 11am Swellendam
Depart: 12pm for Noukrans Boskamp
Swellendam to Noukrans Boskamp
Shop: Suurbraak at 21km
Day 2 | 5 January 2021:
Noukrans to Riversdale
Climbing: 1 800m
Shop: Muiskraal at 60km
Day 3 | 6 January 2021:
Riversdale to Milkwood Bush Camp
Climbing: 1 000m
Shop: Malgas at 86km
Day 4 | 7 January 2021:
Milkwood Bush Camp to Swellendam
Shop: Buffeljags at 44km
Accommodation: Optional night in Swellendam at Dolittle Cottages for R360 per person.
Climbing: 3 430
Bikes and Gear
The route will follow district road thoughout, though Gysmanshoek Pass itself may be rough in places. It is however a gravel bike friendly trip. That said mountain bikes are usually the more comfortable option. But do not let comfort stop you from riding a gravel bike… it will be far more fun.
In addition to your bike pack a helmet and cycling apparel, obviously. We’d like to keep stuff to a minimum so please try to double, or triple up depending on the size of the tent, in tents. For yourself though, bring a camping mattress and sleeping bag, one set of casual clothes, including a jacket and long pants in case it gets cold. Toiletry wise pack the usuals, in small volumes and Tabard or Peaceful Sleep to keep the riverside mosquitoes at bay.
Download the full check list here.
The idea is to keep the costs as low as possible. Hence the camping accommodation option. We will be splitting the cost of the camp sites and the cost of the back-up vehicles. Additionally a professional photographer will join the trip as the back-up driver and as such we will be contributing towards his rate. All meals, including food for the dinner braais will be at your own expense. Though we will provide tea, coffee and rusks in the morning to get everyone going.
There is also the option of joining for an additional night in Swellendam, post-Tour de Gysmanshoek. The night will be spent in the fantastic Dolittle Cottages.
- Accommodation: R530
- Support Vehicle: R250
- Photographer: R1 000
- Total: R1 780
- Optional 4th Night: R360
- + Swellendam Total: R2 140
Book Your Spot in Tour de Gysmanshoek
If you’d like to book a spot in le Tour de Gysmanshoek drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once there’s a preliminary head count, we’ll let you know the exact costs and send you and invoice, so you can make payment via eft. Only once payment has been received will your place in the tour be confirmed.
If you have any questions please drop us a line via email too! See you in Swellendam on the 4th of January 2021…