Four star game reserve, South Africa

WAGON ROUTE
Hiking and Trail running

Note: Reversal of our ‘Wagon Route’ 4x4 and sections of the historic trail used by pioneers and wagoneers. To be dropped at point 1 a drop-off fee of R 50 applies.

CO-ORDINATES: 33°19'58.21"S, 21°30'43.74"E
DISTANCE: ± 6.75 (points 1 to 13 on map)
± 11.9km (lodge to lodge)
ASCENT/DESCENT: ± 175m/360m
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Moderate
ESTIMATED TIME: ± 3hrs (point 1 to 13 on map)
± 4hrs (lodge to lodge)
MIN. ELEVATION: 510m
MAX. ELEVATION: 765m
MARKED WITH: White Arrows & Footprints

The Ox-wagon Route

The route (ref. numbers on Map with bold reference in text)

The route starts (1) (elevation 690m) at the ‘Wagon Route Exit’ sign about 2.8km back up the road towards the Bosch Luys Kloof pass. About 400m in the hiking trail branches off from the 4x4 track up a ravine to the left at an old concrete water trough (2). Follow the arrows and footprints up to a white painted metal pole at point (3), where you will reconnect with the 4x4 track. From this point the hiking trail follows the 4x4 track eastwards.

Kudu, gemsbok, klipspringer, baboons, dassie and verreaux eagle are not uncommon sightings along this hiking trail. Animals will most often use the path of least resistance, and Cape Mountain Leopard scat can often be seen on the trail itself as well, sometimes calcified pure white (due to the high bone content of their diet).

About 2.1km into the route at point (4) is where the historic ox wagon route comes off the Hartmansberg to your right. This route was used as a thoroughfare through Bosch Luys Kloof to reach Beaufort West and other villages north of the Swartberg from the early 1800’s until Seweweekspoort and the Bosch Luys Kloof pass was built in 1861. 4 is the highest point along the route, elevation 765m. Looking back towards the west from here you will see the Bosch Luys Kloof pass winding down the mountain towards the valley below. From here you will start your descent past an old sheep fence (5) towards Hartmans settlement (1830’s).

You will first pass an old graveyard on your left (6) where PJ Hartmann himself now rests. A short walk up the hill to your right at the sign marked Hartmann (7) brings you to the historic farmhouse of PJ Hartmann, the first pioneer to be granted land at Bosch Luys Kloof in 1856. Behind the farmhouse is a lush ravine with a natural fountain producing surface water year round. Old pear trees stick out above the large stand of Sweet thorn (Acacia karroo). Coloured glass pieces, pottery and china fragments are scattered around the old farmhouse, and pieces of metal bear testament to Hartmanns profession in his ‘past life’, a blacksmith. Besides surviving on subsistence farming Hartmann and his family also repaired ox-wagons for passers by and shod horses as a means of survival. Just west of the farmhouse are signs of an old sheep kraal used by farmers in more recent years, and returning down to the hiking trail and continuing eastward you will pass rock packed kraals from Hartmanns time (8).

Shortly after passing the Hartmann settlement you will enter a narrow ravine still heading east, just follow the white arrows and footprints painted on rocks. Exiting the ravine you will head north and before long will pass some of the first of many Namaqua rock figs (Ficus cordata subsp. cordata) you will encounter along the route, and a dense stand of Kruidjie-roer-my-niet (Melianthus comosus) (9).

About 4.3km from the start you will pass a sign marked FOSSILS (10) on your right. The shales and other sedimentary rock formations of the Bokkeveld group are rich in fossils ranging from trilobites to molluscs, gastropods and brachiopods amongst others. A keen eye will spot many fossils embedded in the shales around along this stretch of the hike. Please do not remove any of the fossils.

800m further you will pass a sign marked THE WALL (11) on your left. Massive tectonic forces that led to the formation of the Cape Fold Mountains have forced these rock strata, sedimentary in origin and originally laid down horizontally, into the current vertical position.

The pioneer house (12) further along the route was likely built around the time of the Hartmanns inhabitance, possibly as a shepherds hut.

Point (13) is the end of the Wagon Route. From this point on the historic wagon route ran in an easterly direction towards Prince Albert (then known as Albertburg), in parts the modern road that runs through Bosch Luys Kloof down to the Gamkapoort dam still follows this route. The dam was built for irrigation purposes between 1967 and 1969, and by damming up the Gamka- and Dwijka rivers at their meeting point(flowing further through Gamkapoort towards the Gourits rivermouth) the historic road essentially became a cul-de-sac.

From here you can follow the main road westward back to the lodge (roughly 2.3km) and a well deserved beverage of your choice!

Enjoy!

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