Herold Wines, Paardepoort and Eseljagpoort Loop eBike Route

If you take the historical Montagu Pass over the glorious Outeniqua Mountains from George in the Western Cape (check out video here) you’ll eventually come to the tiny hamlet of Herold. There’s not much there - a few old buildings (like the old blacksmith’s shop dating back to the 1860s), a church, the rather delightful Over the Mountain Tea Garden and, a few kilometres on the George side of Herold, Herold Wines. What is not immediately apparent is that it’s a wonderful base to do some exploring on ebikes, mountain bikes or any other means of transport you’d care to pick!

Herold’s origins go all the way back to the 1760s when the Campher family began farming Doorn River Farm in the Langkloof. Over the years the family acquired more and more land and were eventually responsible for the access to the rather dangerous Cradock Kloof Pass and later, the Montagu Pass when it was completed in 1848. They ran the post office and were instrumental in setting up the small community. Herold was named after TJ Herald, the Dutch Reformed minister in the George magisterial district from 1812 to 1823.

eBike Ride - Paardeppoort and Eseljagpoort  2jpg

We based ourselves at Herold Wines for this ride but you can, of course, leave your car at Over the Mountain Tea Garden. In both cases let the people know that you are heading out for a ride and do sample their fare on your return. The cinnamon cake and chocolate cake at Over the Mountain are incredible and the Herold Wines, delish!

The route takes you out of Herold towards the N9 between George and Uniondale. There’s a quick right and left and then you find yourself on the Paardepoort Road, the Doorn River farm on your left. In the early 1800’s the farm would have been a very different place to what you see today. It had become the gateway to Cradock Pass between Oudtshoorn and George and travellers would stop here to rest before the arduous descent (or climb, depending on the direction of travel) into George. Wagons were serviced and repaired, news exchanged and, no doubt, a bit of partying and braaiing of meat.

The Paardepoort was completed in 1869 by Thomas Bain, the famous Pass builder who built so many of the early passes in South Africa. It ran along the eastern bank of the Doorn River and the dry stone walling used in its construction can still be be seen today from the new road on the eastern bank. (Some references say the pass was built in a style similar to Bain, others say that he built it, which rather adds to its allure).

A few kilometres past the poort we turned right towards Ezeljacht and, by taking the right fork just down the road, Eseljagpoort. In the distance are the Kammanassie Mountains (a Khoi/San word meaning Mountains of Water) and as we got closer to the poort, the scenery more and more remote and beautiful. Keep an eye open for zebra and hartebeest on private land to the east of the road.

eBike Ride - Paardeppoort and Eseljagpoort

Interestingly, the name Eseljag means ‘donkey hunt’ which is a little odd (after all who would want to hunt donkeys?) but when you realise that the early Dutch settlers called zebras ‘esels’ it makes better sense.

After we cleared the poort there’s about a kilometre of N9 that needs to be ridden to the east before turning onto farm roads. Keep to the shoulder of the road and, to be safe we rode on the RHS so we could see the oncoming traffic, our bike lights flashing.

The farm roads are on private property and so permission has to be sought before riding them. Call Morné Jonker on +27 (62) 429-5614 to set up the ride. There are a number of gates, some (on our ride only 1) are locked (wooden bridges over the fences are planned) and so this will mean hoisting the bikes over them. Not too bad with a conventional bike but with an ebike…

From here it’s straight back to Herold for tea and cake or back to Herold Wines for something a little stronger.

All in all a glorious ride! Also in the area is a cycle to Kammanassie Dam and you can always take a ride to the top of Montagu Pass to check out the views over George towards the sea.

Route Distance: 51km

Route conditions: A few patches of busy paved roads but other than that excellent gravel roads. Be sure to obtain permission to traverse the farm roads from Morné Jonker on +27 (62) 429-5614 and please leave the gates in the state you found them: if open leave it open after you’ve passed through/ if closed be sure to close it properly after you have gone through. Ride early in summer - it can get very hot in this area, and be sure to take adequate water and sustenance with you. Sunscreen is highly recommended.

Over The Mountain Tea Garden. (Wonderful food and accommodation)

Web site: http://www.overthemountain.co.za

Google: https://g.page/OverTheMountainLodge?share

GPS: -33° 50.818' 22° 26.776'

Herold Wines. (Wine, food and accommodation)

Web Site: https://heroldwines.co.za

Google: https://g.page/HeroldWines?share

GPS: -33° 51.821' 22° 28.137'

Louvain Guest Farm (Accommodation and venue)

Web Site: https://www.louvain.co.za

Google: https://goo.gl/maps/1w45ZdhnguN9wYpz6

GPS: -33° 48.710' 22° 38.954'

Download the GPS track for the Herold Wines, Paardepoort and Eseljagpoort loop here.

Check out the Strava Route here.