4X4 ROUTE

We last vis­ited the Re­bel­lie Game Farm in 2010, and dur­ing this visit we fo­cussed on their tough-as-nails Kloof trail. We went back re­cently to tackle the fam­ily-friendly Moun­tain trail.

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

Novem­ber is an ex­cel­lent time to visit the East­ern Free State. There’s the Cherry Fes­ti­val in Ficks­burg, Clarens goes into hol­i­day mode, and the Golden Gate Na­tional Park is lush green thanks to the re­cent rains. If you get your tim­ing right you’ll even see some snow on the Maloti Moun­tains. If you want to head into the moun­tains to build your very own Olaf the snow­man, there’s a nice, fam­ily-friendly 4x4 route close by. Re­bel­lie has two 4x4 trails, but it’s the tamer Moun­tain trail with its spec­tac­u­lar view over the East­ern Free State that gets the pop­u­lar vote.

Get­ting there

From Clarens you drive east towards Golden Gate. After about 14 km you’ll see the sign for Re­bel­lie Game Farm on your right. The farm is a part of the MalotiDrak­ens­berg Trans­fron­tier Con­ser­va­tion and De­vel­op­ment Area at the foot of the moun­tain range. A stretch of dirt road takes you past a few home­steads and even­tu­ally to the farm’s re­cep­tion build­ing. Sign in and then head up the moun­tain. The twin-track trail is oc­ca­sion­ally lit­tered with rocks that re­quire at least all­wheel drive and ba­sic off-road knowl­edge to con­quer it. Some­one who knows their bakkie well will more than likely be able to mas­ter the trail with a two-wheel drive with diff lock only, but it’s not that easy through­out the trail. At 2 200 m above sea level, this trail is one of the high­est ob­sta­cle cour­ses in the coun­try. Pull over at the look­out point. Turn your head to the right and you’ll look straight down into Le­sotho: Rows and rows of moun­tains grad­u­ally fade to blue as they dis­ap­pear over the hori­zon. Turn your head to the left and you’ll see the beau­ti­ful Golden Gate High­lands Na­tional Park, and on a clear day you might even see as far as Beth­le­hem. The earth is browner on the Le­sotho side, partly be­cause it’s colder and also be­cause of graz­ing. The South African side is ver­dant since a veld fire raged along the north­ern slopes re­sult­ing in new growth. The north­ern slope is also a con­ser­va­tion area where the growth of the veld’s nat­u­ral flora is en­cour­aged.

The trail ends on a patch of grass against the slope of the moun­tain where you can park and pitch your tent. There are no fa­cil­i­ties and you need be self­suf­fi­cient. For day vis­i­tors this is the turn­around point and the trail fol­lows the same way back to the farm.

Can I camp there?

Ex­cept for the small camp­site in the moun­tain, Re­bel­lie of­fers more for­mal ac­com­mo­da­tion for 35 peo­ple inside chalets and bun­ga­lows. There’s also am­ple space for tents and stands for car­a­vans around a large barn. The barn used to house he­li­copters, but these days it’s where you’ll find the ablu­tion fa­cil­i­ties, a bar, kitchen, and a re­cep­tion area. In the win­ter the fires in the fire­place warm up campers be­fore they turn in for the night. Day vis­i­tors are wel­come, but they are only al­lowed to tackle the trail with a four­wheel-drive ve­hi­cle. If you stay the night you can do the trail with your own quad or mo­tor­cy­cle. You can also hike the route or pedal up with your moun­tain bike.

WATCH OUT FOR THAT... It’s not an overly chal­leng­ing route but if you don’t pay at­ten­tion you can se­ri­ously dam­age your ve­hi­cle. It’s also a lo-ong way down if you leave the road.

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