RIBBOKKLOOF

A mere two hours’ drive from Jo­han­nes­burg, over­look­ing a grassy val­ley, there’s a 4x4 trail for both fam­ily men and tough guys.

Go! Camp & Drive - - CONTENTS - Text and photos Cyril Klop­per

A mere two hours’ drive from Jo­han­nes­burg, over­look­ing a grassy val­ley, there’s a 4x4 trail for both fam­ily men and tough guys.

The Ribbokkloof Lodge is on the farm Uitkyk, a mem­ber of the Ge­lyk­wa­ter Bon­s­mara Cat­tle Farms. So you can ex­pect moo­ing golden-brown cows munch­ing grass early in the morn­ing while play­ful calves jump around them.

Here you can hike, moun­tain bike, fish, swim, do some bird-watch­ing or play around in your off-roader on the rocky ridge above the val­ley. It’s a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for 4x4 clubs who gather over week­ends. The brook that flows through Ribbokkloof is used as an ob­sta­cle course that tests off-road ve­hi­cles’ climb­ing abil­i­ties. If you’re in search of some­thing a bit tamer though, there’s a moun­tain track that me­an­ders over the ridge.

Time to drive

The first farm­stead you en­counter af­ter driv­ing through the farm gate (S25.58952 E29.81749) is also the re­cep­tion build­ing for Ribbokkloof. The man­ager, El­ize Ma­ree, will give you a map for the 27 km long 4x4 trail plus your cot­tage’s key if you’re overnight­ing at Ribbokkloof.

From here a de­cent dirt road runs down to the bot­tom of the val­ley where you’ll find a camp­site and self-cater­ing cot­tages. Drive past the cot­tages deeper into the kloof. At the top of the stream the road sud­denly swerves to the left and the sur­face changes into loose shale. If your ve­hi­cle strug­gles on the steep in­cline you should re­con­sider tack­ling the trails on the other side of the stream. But if your ve­hi­cle passes this first test you can head over to the wa­ter­course and cross it with­out a worry.

The first ob­sta­cle is a steep hill (S25.57483 E29.82557) that’s rather chal­leng­ing when it rains. Our ve­hi­cle was equipped with Bridge­stone M/T mud tyres, which al­lowed us to quite eas­ily make it up the hill. At the top on the ridge there’s a net­work of twin-tracks. Some of them have all but dis­ap­peared − over­grown by Aus­tralian wat­tle – and then you ei­ther have to turn around or

The brook that flows through Ribbokkloof is used as an ob­sta­cle course that tests off-road ve­hi­cle’s climb­ing abil­i­ties.

head into the veld around them. The twin-tracks are fairly easy to mas­ter. The ter­rain ranges from clay to rock to gravel, and in gen­eral the route isn’t much tougher than a Grade 2 on our dif­fi­culty scale.

Be on the look­out for small game like rhe­bok (af­ter which the val­ley was named), duik­ers, and warthogs. At the look­out point (S25.57015 E29.83255) you have an un­in­ter­rupted view over the val­ley and nearby farms.

At the bot­tom of the ravine is a 3 km long ob­sta­cle course through the stream. It’s ba­si­cally a se­ri­ous of tracks that criss­cross the brook. A stan­dard dou­ble cab bakkie might get stuck here and there but short wheel-base ve­hi­cles shouldn’t have any is­sues. This is where the 4x4 clubs come to play. At the time of our visit the ma­jor­ity of the ob­sta­cles were flat­tened out by previous vis­i­tors, which is why it wasn’t par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing – per­haps a Grade 3 – but the trail does oc­ca­sion­ally get re­paired to res­tore it to a Grade 4.

There’s also a dam that you can drive through. Rather keep close to the side, where it’s wheel-deep. You might be sorry if you drive through the mid­dle be­cause who knows how deep it is.

Ac­com­mo­da­tion

Ribbokkloof has seven self-cater­ing units that are spaced far apart. The small­est one, Tol­bos, has a dou­ble bed, kitchen, bath­room and DStv, and costs R400 p.p.p.n. Blinkblaar, the big­gest one, is a dou­ble-storey build­ing that sleeps 12, and it costs R350 p.p.p.n. (R175 >

for kids un­der 12, free for kids un­der 6). Most of the houses use so­lar power and gas for lights and hot water – find out be­fore­hand which ones have power out­lets where you can charge a cell­phone or lap­top com­puter. Bring your own dish­wash­ing liq­uid, tow­els and matches; bed­ding and cut­lery and crock­ery are pro­vided. Close to the units there’s a jun­gle gym, slide and a swim­ming pool to keep the lit­tle ones oc­cu­pied.

If you bring your own ac­com­mo­da­tion you can pitch camp next to the brook. Stands cost R80 plus R80 p.p.p.n. (R40 for kids un­der 12, free for kids un­der 6). There’s space for 30 peo­ple who share an ablu­tion block and a kitchen. Next to these thatched-roof build­ings is an­other jun­gle gym and slide for the kid­dies. You can fish in Ribbokkloof’s larger dam, but it’s all catch and re­lease. You can buy wood (R20), bags of ice (R10) and bis­cuits (R50 per 500 g) from El­ize at the re­cep­tion desk. The near­est café where you can buy pro­vi­sions is in Stoff­berg, about 25 km away. If you need fuel you’ll have to drive a bit far­ther to Belfast or Mid­del­burg (both 40 km). Day vis­i­tors are wel­come – it costs R70 p.p. (R35 for kids un­der 12, free for kids un­der 6) and they can braai on the big lawn next to the dam. They’ll need to fork out an ex­tra R110 to drive the trails, but guests and cam­pers can do it for free.

MUD AND GUTS. Al­though a num­ber of the ob­sta­cles are some­what chal­leng­ing, none should dam­age your ve­hi­cle if you take care. A rainy day adds to the fun, pro­vided your tires are up to the job.

HOW GREEN WAS MY VAL­LEY. Cat­tle mow the lawn and fer­tilise it at the same time. Try to co­or­di­nate your visit with a club day event to see what the guys get up to. Or get away from it all on the trails in the hills above the val­ley. The 4x4 ac­ces­sory com­pany, Op­po­site Lock, al­lowed us to use their Hilux dubbed “The Beast”. It made short work of the ob­sta­cles.

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