Unleash your dark side – raise hell in the Gamkaskloof!
Why anyone would want to ride to hell and back is beyond me, but if you fancy indulging in a little purgatory whilst reciting the ‘two wheels good, four wheels bad’ mantra, then this is just for you.
Get on your bike for two or four days of mountain madness down into Hell and back again to De Hoek. Apart from the usual glory prizes like First Man In or First Woman Out, there will be awards for Best Kamakazi, Best Fall (without major injury), Worst Looking Finisher, Most Spectacular Finish, Slowest Downhill, Most Breakdowns and Most Committed Rider - as voted by spectators and participants!
And if that isn’t enough to tame you, go and cool off afterwards with some very large reptiles. Head to the ‘Valley of the Ancients’ at the Cango Wildlife Ranch in Oudtshoorn for a mega dose of adrenaline as you come eyeball to eyeball with a crocodile. Don't worry, cages are designed to keep snouts out.
Where can I stay? Dos in Oudtshoorn or kip en kuier in Prince Albert
Enter 'The Hell & Back' now? Call +27 (0)44 871 4455
No road to Hell?
Gamkaskloof, commonly knicknamed 'The Hell', is a far flung little valley in the great Swartberg mountains south west of Prince Albert. The fertile valley is surrounded by mountains and was only accessible on foot until as late as 1962. The first inhabitants of Gamkaskloof were probably the San and only in 1830 did European farmers first settle here, farming with goats, wheat and beans, and later the valley's legendary dried fruit.
For decades the folk here were self reliant and essentials were brought in with pack mules from Prince Albert through the kloof formed by the Gamka river. This northern access route could later not be used due to the construction of the Gamkapoort dam and for this reason the road was built in 1963. There were never more than a hundred people living in the valley at any one time. Long droughts followed by floods, together with the new access road and young people leaving for better schooling, led to the final migration of the residents out of 'The Hell'.
Most of the valley is now managed by Cape Nature and Onderplaas is being managed as a traditional farm to uphold and preserve the farming methods of the valley’s historic past.
To Hell and Back Mountain Bike Race 2010
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*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling