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.
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.
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.