Sunday, March 13, 2011

Recce ride - Legalameetse & Ohrigstad Surrounds

So last weekend we headed off to the Legalameetse Nature Reserve in Mpumalanga to do a final recce ride for Fiona's soon to be launched Alchemy Trail. Day 2 of the trail needed some route options and so off we went. A small group of us did most of the 6 day, 500+ km trail from Haenertsburg to Bulembu in Swaziland for the first time last September. It's an awesome route traversing many different biosphere's and equally as many mountains and it will be one of South Africa's top ten trail rides when it is launched.

We stayed the night at Makutsi Camp in the Legalameetse reserve. The log cabins are tucked away along the mountain stream in a lush sub-tropical forest environment. Ours had a large rock pool below it and if we had arrived after day one would have made for a fantastic swimming pool.

We left Makutsi at around 05:45am on Saturday and headed up the mountain along a winding rocky 4x4 route. It's a surreal environment with huge ancient trees, numerous birds, baboons and the trickling mountains stream to keep you company as you climb out from the camp. One crosses the stream at least ten times on the way out. Once over the top, it's an undulating ride through lush mountains down towards the Olifants river. Fiona & I arrived at the river settlement at around 08:30. I headed off to see if I could find Ester of the ice cold coke & "I'm soo heppy" fame from our previous trip. She's a delightful local lady who stocks cool drinks in her home spaza and boy are they fantastically cold when its swelteringly hot. Alas she wasn't home...

Nonetheless we needed to move along so we headed off to the 'Indaba tree' (A bloody enormous tree that one can sit under and have morning tea !) near the river to see if we could find the cable car to cross the river. We waded last time but with so much rain the river was flowing rather strongly. The cable car was fantastic fun ! Home made it's more like a 'foofie' slide with a steel box hanging off the bottom than anything else ! WTF, you only live once so being a gentleman I let Fiona go first so I could snap some pics.

Day two was awesome. We were accompanied by a very friendly & able policeman from Ohrigstad who knows both the area and the landowners well. He had managed to arrange a route through two landowners private game farms to get to Crystal Springs resort. It's 32km of the most scenically awesome rugged jeep track riding imaginable through the mountains. We were overwhelmed. Game abounds on the farms and the vista's are fantastic. There's just over a 1000m of cumulative ascent on this stretch but it's absolutely worth the effort. We entered Crystal Springs resort through a gate at the bottom of the reserve and cycled up to the resort. if you've been up Robbers Pass by road then you'll know what the ascent is like to get to the resort from the bottom.
It was a fantastic weekend and I can't wait to do the entire Alchemy Trail !!!

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