Some 250 million years ago the Great Karoo was an inland sea fringed by cycads and roamed by prehistoric amphibians and reptiles.
Today it is a vast expanse of contradictions barren in winter, blooming in summer. Majestic mountains, wide open plains, boulders and overhanging cliffs dominate the scenery. Fossilised footprints are found throughout the area and two good specimens may be seen on this trail.
The trail nestles in the Nuwe-veld Mountain Range over several farms 51 kilometres from Fraserburg. The route is well marked and ideal for hiking and biking. Open air sleeping under a cliff with a Waterfall veiling the entrance, is a must in summer.
The highlight of the route is the Mail Coach Pass, which has a decline of 300 meters over less than a kilometer. The gradient is 28 in some places and should only be attempted by experienced drivers. Tanks should be at least three quarters full because fuel starvation is a certainty on the way up.
Wildlife and vegetation
The trail is rich with vegetation ranging from the minuscule "Suurtandjies" (sour teeth freely translated) to rare succulents and numerous shrubs. A variety of coloured lichens (a primitive life form) adorns the rocks in the region A lichen is a symbiosis between algae and a fungus.
Various species of antelope roam the plateau, while the lynx and jackal may show itself to the fortunate. Hyraxes are quite common. The bigger species of raptors like the black eagle breed in the rugged mountains.
Part of the romance of the trail is the accommodation. Several fully equipped guest houses are available, while the quaint corbel-type huts lend a special flavour to the trip. Of course nothing beats sleeping under the bright, Karoo stars in summer!
Difficulty: 4 - 5
Hazard factor:4 - 5.
Recommended tyre pressure: 2 - 2,5 bar.
GPS: 32 16' 00S 2123'40E.
Elevation: 1349 metres.
Tel 023 741 1839.