KAROO TO COAST | CLASSIC
The diversity of the landscapes, with rugged mountains always in view, and the rolling hills and valleys within the Klein Karoo provide an endless source of delight and wonderment.
The Klein Karoo is rich in culture and we follow the tracks of the Khoisan people as we connect with this ancient land in which the hunter-gatherers of Southern Africa survived some 2300 years ago.
When to go
Jan to May, Aug to Nov
From the moment you touch down in South Africa, everything is included so that while you are with us you can forget about your wallet, relax and enjoy your time in the Klein Karoo.
6 or 7 nights
- Stay in one of the oldest homesteads in the Karoo, sampling the region’s food and fine wines.
- Experience the night time wonder of African star-filled skies.
- Experience semi-arid bush, temperate rainforest and the Indian Ocean within days of each other.
- Hike to the famous site of the 2,000 year old Koi Koi rock paintings to discover more of the region’s ancient history.
- Cycle the famous 7 Passes road at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountain range enjoying views of the Indian Ocean.
- Finish with a barefoot beach walk along one of the wildest beaches on the East coast of South Africa.
ON THE MOVE
The rugged mountains, rolling hills and valleys of the Klein Karoo provide a hugely atmospheric start to our journey from Prince Albert to the wild and sun-drenched Indian Ocean. This is big sky country, inhabited by hunter gatherers hundreds of thousands of years ago. Their marks are in the tracks that criss-cross this ancient land.
Pedalling south we say goodbye to ostriches and springboks and enter the majestic Outeniqua Mountain Range, home to giant yellowwoods and fern-lined streams that form a barrier between the semi-arid interior and the vibrant, lush indigenous forests bordering the Indian Ocean. This is where our journey ends.
The cycling consists mainly of deserted tarmac backroads, with occasional gravel roads. Walks are no more than 3 hours and will not generally be technical. There will always be someone travelling at your pace; this is a journey to take time over.
MEET YOUR GUIDES, JACO & KATJA
Despite its relative proximity to the Garden Route, this section of the vast Karoo is wild and extraordinary. From big sky country to the shores of the Indian Ocean; from the sandy, old world Klein Karoo to the Tsitsikamma rainforest, this journey is a feast for the senses and an escape from the modern world.
Karoo to Coast
Our 7-night journey taking in the Klein Karoo, the Indian Ocean and forests in between, is described below. We are happy to offer shorter itineraries for private groups.
Transfer George Airport to Prince Albert
185 kms / 2 hrs 50 mins
Arriving in George, we will head into the Outeniqua Mountain Range which forms the divide between the lush coastal belt and the semi-arid Klein Karoo. We will cross the seemingly impenetrable mountains via the Outeniqua Pass, which replaced the old Montagu Pass built in 1848 by Colonel Montagu. The landscape changes drastically landscape as we drive north to Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world and home to beautiful architecture betrays its cultural influences. Finally we reach the oasis of Prince Albert, where we begin our journey on two wheels tomorrow. Enjoying local cuisine, stories of Boer wars and British occupancy, we will experience the first star filled sky of the week, from the comfort of one of the oldest local homesteads.
Morning cycle 30 kms
Afternoon cycle 16 kms
We will need a hearty breakfast before climbing the 150 year-old Swartberg Pass, the crowning achievement of prolific road engineer Sir Thomas Bain. The views over the Klein and Great Karoo are well worth the effort. We slowly snake our way down the pass and into a land of sheep farms that is also home to a huge variety of bird life, unique vegetation and even the odd buck. Tonight’s accommodation is in Oudtshoorn, under the milky way.
Morning cycle 21 kms
Aternoon cycle 17 kms
Leaving our accommodation we will cycle south, descending gradually along a picturesque river valley with fields of tobacco, lucerne and deciduous fruit. We will visit resident crafts’ people before lunch in the bush, Slow Cyclist style. Our slightly shorter afternoon cycle takes us through the striking red hills that give the Klein Karoo its unique character and sees us end the day in the saddle in plenty of time for a late afternoon swim. Our overnight stay is beautifully situated and a place to slow down, absorb its tranquillity and take in the setting sun.
Morning cycle 28 kms
Afternoon cycle 34 kms
Today is a longer cycle that sees us meander through rolling hills as we make our way closer to the coast. Crossing dry river beds and seeking shade under Acacia trees, we will have plenty of time to take in the stillness of our surroundings, and the occasional baboon. Our lunch stop is the shady veranda of a delightful old school house, providing us with a perfect oasis to escape the midday heat. Back on the bike, we’ll roll on down into a tranquil, working farm. We’ll be staying in a beautiful homestead with wooden floors, sash windows and high ceilings, typical of the region’s Cape Dutch architecture.
Morning cycle 27 kms
Afternoon cycle 15 kms
Delving deeper into the history of this land, we will take a morning walk in search of the Koi Koi rock paintings, some 2,000 years old. Then it’s back on the bike to cover the last stretch of semi-arid desert before we enter the verdant Outeniqua Mountain Range. There are endless delights here, and challenges for those living within the range’s folds. We will meet local people living off-grid and hear their stories. Our overnight accommodation is nestled deep in a valley with abundant fresh mountain pools and pecan trees.
Morning cycle 33 kms
Afternoon cycle 28 kms
We continue this morning along a mountain pass, with views over the Knysna rainforest canopy. By mid-morning we’ll benefit from the shade of the forest as we follow a secret path down to the coast, rooted in time, where elephants roamed, forest trains toiled and where the echoes of a woodcutter’s axe can still be heard. We will have lunch in an 18th century property before descending into the deep, pristine and indigenous forest. The final descent takes us to our accommodation outside of bustling Knysna. Set on a 4 hectare farm, the private house is perched on a high outcrop surrounded by a nature reserve with breathtaking views of the Knysna River.
Morning cycle 44 kms
Afternoon cycle 9 kms
Despite our proximity to the Garden Route, we will not feel like we’re anywhere near modernity. we take a short walk to the Red Bridge that takes us over the Knysna River. We begin the journey along the famous 7 Passes Road, the oldest direct road link between George and Knysna. Completed in the late 1800s and still mostly untarred, it dips down into the many river crossings, giving us a magnificent feeling for what the settlers of that era experienced by horse cart and wagons. With incredible views of the Indian Ocean, we hug the foot of the Outeniqua Mountain Range, just on the other side of where we were on Day 5. For lunch we visit a project for children of the area. We will chat with the founders and experience a traditional lunch. The afternoon cycle is 10 km downhill as we make our way down to the coast. We celebrate the completion of our journey with the most spectacular view of the South African coastal region. Depending on time, weather and mood, we visit one of the wildest and most beautiful beaches along the east coast.
Morning walk 5km
It is easy to find wilderness even on the Garden Route. This morning we will invite you to join us for an hour-long walk on one of the wildest beaches on the east coast of South Africa. The sand is fine and white; the sea turquoise and warm.
HOW TO BOOK
There are two ways to travel with us. You can either travel on a set-date Scheduled Journey or put together your own private party.
MAKE NEW FRIENDS
A wonderful opportunity to explore a fascinating part of the world, to meet like-minded travellers and make new friends in a group of Slow Cyclists assembled by us.
TRAVEL WITH FRIENDS
If you love the look of the Karoo and would like to experience it in a small group of family or friends, get in touch and we will explain how we can make it happen.