It sounded like a good idea: an unsupported bicycle tour through the Swartberge and Anysberg for me and Gaucho Pedro (Peter Groves) who was visiting from the UK. It is a good idea, except when the Karoo decides to visit a heatwave on you. Three successive 40+°C days made for murderous cycling. On day 2, the 100 km day to Anysberg, it felt like cycling into a blowtorch. In all we pedalled about 150 km of the 180 km circuit – for the other 30 km we accepted lifts on days 2 and 3 as heat exhaustion overtook us. We didn’t manage to experience anything of Anysberg, but had a fantastic time in Seweweekspoort, specifically at an oasis named Aristata, staffed by the ever-willing and helpful Hein and his family.
Our route started at Ladismith, headed east past Zoar and into Seweweekspoort to overnight at Aristata. Exiting Seweweekspoort north of the Klein Swartberge, we turned west on the R323, intending to stay at Tapfontein in Anysberg. Day 3 took us south over Witte Poort and then east back to Ladismith.
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I had pre-booked the bush camp at Tapfontein because it was the only night that any accommodation was available in Anysberg, but in retrospect we should have stuck to the original plan of camping wherever we happened to stop. In the end we didn’t reach Tapfontein. We had split up because I wanted to reach Anysberg in time to gain entry at the gate of the reserve, so carried on ahead while Peter rested some more. Well there isn’t a gate – or there is, but it isn’t manned. Knowing that Peter wasn’t sure of the route and unsure whether he had his headlamp (he didn’t), I decided to stop and set up camp at the “gate” – where the road crosses the Prinsrivier – and waited. Peter rolled into camp at 9 pm. It was dark, the mozzies and the ants were aggro, we were thoroughly buggered and so we decided not to try and pick our way up the mountain to Tapfontein.
As you will notice, the photos and the videos sort of … “petered out” after the morning of day 2 (if you will excuse the pun).
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I was impressed with my new bike, a “twenty-niner” that’s meant for touring, with panniers. It performed like a dream and was easy to move at a good clip. So I think there will be many more bike tours on the backroads and tracks of the Karoo, but next time I’ll pay more heed to the weather forecast.
I await Peter’s post on “the ordeal” with interest.