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Running, hiking, cycling or 4x4 there are many ways to explore the Cultural Heartlands.

 
06 January 2016 by Katy La Grange

The beauty of the Cultural Heartlands is it is designed to be explored. As the deep valleys, hidden waterfalls, mountain springs and rolling grasslands reach out to be discovered. The mountain passes used in the early pioneer days now provide the perfect hiking trails or mountain bike routes and the small dirt roads that connect some of the quaint towns in the region make for great 4x4 adventures or for the athletic, trail runs!

At Buffalo Gorge you can experience a bit of everything!

Hiking Trails: Their four hiking trails caters for everyone’s needs, from the 1km Yellow trail over boulders and through the shaded forest that is perfect for even the youngest of explorers to the mammoth 10km White hike that takes you around the property and into the Avontuur Valley. Each hike is beautifully signposted with paint dots leading the way and none are a simple walk. You will be bending beneath branches, scrambling over rocks and making your way up and down mountainsides, but the views and the experiences are well worth the effort. For me the best part of the hiking trails had to be the bonsai spotting. Once you get your eye in you quickly realise natural bonsai’s occur everywhere across the farm and are not simply limited to figs. The rocks were also a wonder to behold, gnarled and covered by lichens each took on an abstract appeal, part grotesque part  beautiful, like a scene from “Lord of the Rings. 

Cycling Route: The 18km single track cycle trail is expertly designed to loo p through the whole of Buffalo Gorge, taking you to spectacular view points and through awesome adventure playgrounds. The sand donga has to be one of the highlights of the route, acting like a playground for stunt riders and the brave to try tricks or simply survive the experience! This perhaps is not a route for a novice as the technical section with its challenging rock climbs are set to challenge the seasoned mountain bike rider. While the zig-zagging first section of the route, while not overly steep, is an endurance challenge for any rider.

Trail Running: Catering for the new craze sweeping South Africa, Buffalo Gorge’s trail running loops are the newest addition to this activity centre. With monthly 2.5, 6.5, 10 and 18km runs, Buffalo Gorge caters for trail runners from across the board. So whether you are new to the sport and simply want to give it a go, or a passionate trail running professional keen to test yourself, Buffalo Gorge is the place to come. 

4x4: This was my choice when it came to exploring Buffalo Gorge and I wasn’t disappointed. The two fabulous routes like everything else caters for a range of 4x4 expertise. The 18km eco route combines fabulous views, with technically challenging drives including an optional, marked level 4, rock crawl that should only be attempted by the most experienced 4x4 enthusiasts! With 7 beautiful view points, this route really does live up to its ‘Eco’ name spoiling you with some magnificent views over the Avontuur Valley, Selonsriver and Buffalo Gorge. The beauty of this route is that it encompasses all the various terrains you would expect to encounter when off-road driving, from muddy sections to short rocky climbs and steep descents. 

While the Eco-Trail is as much about the scenery as it is about the drive, the second 4x4 route “Bobbejaanloop Playground” is all about having fun! With 16 river crossings of various difficulties this is certainly not for the faint hearted, as some of the more technical crossings really are only for the experienced 4x4er. That being said the course is designed for drivers to pick their own route and make it as challenging as they feel comfortable doing.

While the ways of exploring Buffalo Gorge are totally different. The end result is always the same huge smiles all round, proving over and over again that Buffalo Gorge is a great playground for the adventurous.