Words and Images by: Jaques Marais
We all know Albertinia, mainly because there are loads of aloes and because you may occasionally spot a semi-tame elephant on the Overberg plains as you blast past on the N2. What you don’t know is that MTB nirvana is waiting just off the highway..
It’s always great to explore a brand-new playground, especially if it is an outdoor arena within which you
can both run and ride. Although I know the Mossel Bay area pretty well, I’ve never had the pleasure of
tripping into the back-country biosphere near the small village of Herbertsdale, situated on the banks of the Gourits River.
Wine was the last thing I expected in this renosterveld region, so what a pleasant surprise it was to discover the Jakkalsvlei Wine Estate this weekend. The reason for my visit was the annual Jakkalsvlei MTB and Trail Run Challenge and it turned out to be a topclass event.
This family-owned private cellar and estate – a mere 8km from Herbertsdale on the R327 and 50km from
Mossel Bay – must rate as one of the Garden Route’s best-kept secrets. The Jonker family put down roots
here in the 1970s, with Jantjie Jonker currently in place as the third-generation winemaker.
Apparently, there are loads of foxes, jackals and wildcats in the remote and craggy ridges, but chances are you will only see the ‘rooi jakkals’ emblazoned on the labels of their award-winning wines. Never mind, as these acclaimed Jakkalsvlei cultivars can be enjoyed with cheese platters, delicious pizzas and gourmet
burgers in their restaurant.
Picnic baskets can be ordered and enjoyed on the lush green lawns while taking in the amazing scenery, and you can even chug down a craft beer or three. Jakkalsvlei is set in the foothills of the magnificent Outeniqua ranges, so the views are not too shabby either.
For more info: www.visitmosselbay.co.za
There’s much more to the Herbertsdale area than lekker wine and kiff people, especially if you have a gravel bike. Dozens of remote gravel roads meander into the hinterland here, and regular local rides leave from the Shell Garage near the N2. Good news is that you have 4km of purpose-built single-track on Jakkalsvlei to look forward to as a pre-pinotage piece de resistance.
The annual Jakkalsvlei Aramex MTB Challenge is the perfect way to get to know the local riders (and through them the many gravel routes). This superbly executed event – with no less than three MTB distances and two trail run options boasts a full-on family vibe.
The 60km ride and 12km run are both challenging enough to make you feel you deserve your Jackal Craft Lager, while loads of kids took to the trails in the shorter events. Great wine, delectable pizzas and burgers, lush lawns, chilled music … you can’t ask for much more after a solid trail session!
Initially it might be easier to tag onto a local riding group, but there’s an excellent gravel road route map on the Mossel Bay Tourism site. An intermediate route that comes highly recommended takes you over the highway and onto the R328 before you turn left onto the Welbedacht Road after 7km.
Keep pedalling for 8km until you reach Hartbeeskuil Dam, then turn left to Matjiesdrif and the R327 (8.4km). Cross the tar road onto the Kleinberg road and keep pedalling for 24km until you loop back via Outeniqua’s Drift to the R327.
By now, you’ll be pleased to have a bit of tar, so turn left towards Herbertsdale (9km) and left again to Jakkalsvlei on the Albertinia Road (8.5km). Just after the estate gates, duck onto the single-track for a 4km adrenaline blast before you settle down to some great food and wine!