A Lazy 4x4 Trail through the Karoo

Lazy 4x4 Trails in the Karoo: An Off-Road Adventure from Touws River

10 January 2024

The Little Karoo beckons 4×4 adventure enthusiasts with its iconic semi-desert terrains, vast mountainous plains, and the famous Route 62—which stretches right across the Western Cape. However, the true beauty of the Karoo lies beyond the tar roads. Spanning over 300 000 km, the Karoo is a South African haven for less-travelled back roads and remote, untouched regions.

But you don’t need to go all out just to rough it up off the tar roads. This lazy 4×4 trail invites you on a journey through the scenic landscapes of the Tankwa Karoo. Departing from Touws River, a quaint town less than two hours outside of Cape Town, this novice-friendly off-road route winds its way through the vast and stunning Karoo, revealing hidden gems and serene 4×4 trails along the way. Over the course of this scenic drive, you’ll encounter a nature reserve and local guest farms, offering off-grid campsites and beginner 4×4 trails, complete with widespread fynbos plains devoid of cellphone signal.

Your Lazy Route:

With the official starting point just 23 km outside Touws River, South Africa, continue along the N1 onto the R318 towards Montagu. Continue for nearly 27 km until the Rooihoogte Pass, where the start of your 4×4 experience, the Nougaspoort gravel road, on the left, awaits your exploration.

The Nougaspoort road leads to Leeuwenboschfontein, a favorite among off-road enthusiasts, offering a 20 km 4×4 route and an obstacle course near the campsite. Further down, the Gecko Rock Private Nature Reserve beckons with camping options and two off-road trails, including the tranquil Bothashoek Trail (12 km) and the more challenging Seattle Trail.

Continuing east for 20.5 km to the T-junction with P1432 gravel road, turn left and travel 10.5 km to the next T-junction. Turn right, and after 2 km, you’ll reach the western entrance gate of the Anysberg Nature Reserve.

Anysberg Nature Reserve

Anysberg Nature Reserve, spanning 790 km2, showcases the grandeur of the Karoo with vast skies and diverse fynbos landscapes. Known for its succulent flora and diverse fauna, you can spot zebra, kudu, gemsbok, and eland while exploring the Tapfontein loop (21 km) 4×4 route. For the ultimate experience, secluded overnight stays are available in hidden Wendy houses accessible only by 4×4 vehicles.

From the Anysberg campsite, journey 22 km to the reserve’s eastern gate. Turn right and head towards the Klein Swartberg and Outol passes, leading to Ladismith.


After leaving Anysberg, follow the R323 to Barrydale, turning right after 36 km. Look for another right turn about 4 km later, leading you through the Grootrivier Valley to a junction with the R62. Continue south for 13 km until reaching the R323 again, turning right toward Riversdale.

The journey takes you through diverse terrains, including the Gysmanshoek Pass in the Boosmansbos conservancy. Enjoy panoramic views of the Garden Route and spot Heidelberg, your final destination, next to the N2 highway.

Preparing for Your Trip:

  • Length: Approximately 300 km (excluding 4×4 routes); 6-8 hours.
  • Vehicle Requirements: 4×4 recommended.
  • Maximum Number of Vehicles: None.
  • Map: Roads available on Tracks4Africa and Google Maps.
  • Vehicle Safety: No scratching or need to remove running boards.
  • Compressor: Not strictly necessary, but deflating tires for dirt roads is advised.
  • Cellphone Signal: Available except in Anysberg Reserve and Gysmanshoek Pass back roads.

Key Information:

  • Best Time to Go: Autumn and Spring.
  • Family-Friendly: Suitable for families.
  • Duration: Ideal for a weekend getaway or two-night trip.
  • Ablution Facilities: Limited to guest farms and nature reserves.
  • Price: Free; these are public roads.

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