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If your farm life fantasies include waking up to mountain sheep baaing in the distance, a host of high altitude birds singing songs you've probably never heard before, and breathing in wonderfully unpolluted crisp air, then look no further than Rhodes.
The second day of our stopover at Rhodes on our Great South African Escape 4x4 tour starts off with breakfast at the Rubicon restaurant. Don't leave any food on your breakfast plate, as you will need all the energy you can muster for the excitement that lies in the off-road day ahead!
We wave goodbye to Elizma and the Rubicon to begin our 4x4 drive up Carlisleshoekspruit Pass towards Tiffindell in our 4x4's is like ascending a mountain you'd imagine could only be found abroad. The climb is steep and the scenery is breathtaking. The unadulterated landscape, with peculiar vegetation; curious cows and sheep, will leave you at a loss for words. Carlisleshoekspruit pass summits at 2563 meters ASL and is the 5th highest pass in South Africa.
Next, the gravel road continues across open plains towards Tiffindell Ski Resort. We pass the Eastern Cape's own Loch Ness, but sadly - or not, depending on how you feel about supernatural creatures - there are no monsters here. Loch Ness indicates the start of Volunteershoek Pass, which is 2581 meters ASL, and is South Africa’s 4th highest gravel mountain pass and the gateway to the War Trail.
By now your 4x4 vehicle will be warmed up for the most technical off-road driving of the day, and it won't be disappointed in our next section of gravel! The War Trail marks our descent down the mighty Drakensberg mountains. The trail is quite steep, and the route has been maintained by the local farmers who have repaired it in some sections by roping tyres together. Don't worry our SA Adventure team is there to assist if you need some off-road driving tips!
After the War Trail, a bit of adrenaline will be coursing through your veins; and your body, mind, and soul will feel invigorated! Following a morning of such awesome 4x4 adventures, a real treat awaits in the form of Bidstone Cottages: Hidden away in the heart of Wild Mountain Country near Barkley East, this beautiful farm in the most tranquil setting will definitely steal your heart. We'll enjoy some of Allan's homemade, mouth-watering wood-fired pizza's while we sit under lush trees overlooking the trout dam. For dessert, Allan serves a delectable apple pie - made with the freshest apples from his farm - with lusciously rich custard.
With full tummies and warm hearts, we start to head back to Rhodes on some of the best gravel roads in South Africa. We stop along the route At Eagle’s Crag (2195m). It’s an awesome spot to take some pictures of the valley below. We cross over the Bell River and will be back in Rhodes with enough time in the afternoon to have a wander around and explore this charming village.
Join us next time for some more epic off-roading adventures, when we head to the remote little town of Hogsback!
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Stay Safe, Big Love, the SA Adventure Team!