Zuurberg Mountain Village (Zuurberg Inn) - The tenth step ... SISA Episode II - CycleBlaze

March 9, 2021

Zuurberg Mountain Village (Zuurberg Inn)

The bad weather of yesterday afternoon and last night put paid to any hopes we had of seeing much wildlife.  We were lucky enough to have a Kudu bull browse briefly in front of our digs but that was it.  Folks we chatted to said they had, against the suggestion of the park staff, been on the night drive and had seen very little, so I think we made the right call.  We have spent a great deal of time in the park in the past and will have many opportunities to again in the future so it wasn't the end of the world.

This Kudu bull (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) was the only wild animal we saw.
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We got going at about eight thirty again this morning.  With barely twenty kilometers to the Zuurberg Inn there was no rush.  We backtracked for a few kilometers towards Addo town to get to the turnoff to the Zuurberg Pass and on the way we met a cyclist coming from the south who stopped and chatted to us.  He had cycled from Upington in the Northern Cape, about a thousand kilometers away while his wife drove a support vehicle and was on his way to Port Alfred, about a hundred and fifty kilometers further east.

The road leading to the pass and the pass itself is unsealed but was in much better condition than yesterday's section from Colchester to Addo.  After dipping into a shallow valley we started the five hundred meter climb up to the Zuurberg Inn.

We were lucky enough to have a really good road surface the whole way today. Apparently the road deteriorates between here and Anne's Villa where we plan to spend tomorrow night.
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The southern section of the Zuurberg Pass has a number of popular mountain bike and traill running routes as well as some good hiking trails.
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Shade was at a premium so we took advantage of any conveniently placed tree to cool down.
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The Zuurberg Pass extends from approximately 35 km north of Addo and 75 km south of Somerset East. At 27,5 km and with 158 bends, corners and curves it is one of the longer passes in South Africa and traverses all four tiers of the dominant Zuurberg Mountain range. It was originally constructed by Henry Fancourt White in 1849, but White resigned during the construction phase to take up a post in parliament, leaving the project in the capable hands of the assistant roads engineer, Mr. Matthew Woodifield, whose name appears carved into a rock slab near the southern end of the pass.

The climb up the pass wasn't too bad.  The gradients were kind and the great road surface meant that traction was good.  We took it very easily, wanting to preserve our strength for tomorrow's tougher ride.

Halfway up and looking back towards Addo.
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This dramatic little cutting is about two thirds of the way up to Zuurberg Inn. The bridge across the top is part of a hiking trail.
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The southern section of the Zuurberg consists of deep wooded valleys. The vegetation turns to fynbos as one climbs higher.
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Nearly at the top of the climb.
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The Sundays River Valley far in the distance.
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First things first on our arrival at the Zuurberg Inn - an ice cold beer.
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The Zuurberg Inn has been renamed to Zuurberg Mountain Village.  In the nineteenth century this was the first of the coach stops after leaving Addo, the second being Ann's Villa where we will spend tomorrow night.  We last stayed here twenty two years ago when it was rather tired and neglected.  It is a bit more upmarket now and we have a really comfortable room, complete with a well-stocked minibar and an outside shower!  We are going to enjoy the luxury while it lasts because tomorrow promises to be a hard slog.

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Nols BundubikerTwo of us cycled through there in December. Say hi to Clever, the caretaker at Anne's Villa. From Somerset East, take the route over the mountain, north of the town. It is tough but spectacular.
We came down the railway service road all the way from Trompsburg in the Freestate to Klipfontein station, a very nice route.
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1 month ago
Jean-Marc StrydomJust finished a tour of the blacksmith's shop with Clever. From Somerset East we are heading up to Pearston and then Graaff Reinet, Nieu Bethesda and Middelburg so we will have to skip the route over the Bosberg. The railway service road sounds as if it could be a good option for when we make our way back to PE.
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1 month ago

Today's ride: 21 km (13 miles)
Total: 63 km (39 miles)

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John SaxbyThanks, Jean-Marc -- love the photos and the landscapes. Some time back, I spent a fabulous week hiking in the Hogsback Mtns, a little further east. That was [counts on fingers] seventeen years ago. (Yikes!) Best to you and Leigh -- enjoy your trek, safe journeys.

John
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1 month ago
Jean-Marc StrydomHi John. Hogsback is a special place too, full of faeries and hobbits and some wonderful birdlife. I imagined that I could see it from the highest point as we crossed the Zuurberg, along with the Winterberg and Bosberg to the west of it. The clarity of light here is sometimes quite wonderful. Coincidentally today I was re-reading a post of yours on the Thorn forum regarding stoves and cooking. You mentioned biltong as a good flavourant for couscous and that resonated deeply in me. Biltong, especially that made from Kudu, is one thing we really miss when traveling outside of southern Africa and yet we have hardly eaten any since returning because of COVID. Stay safe. Warmer days arriving soon for you so hopefully you can get get back on your bicycle.
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1 month ago