Bedrogfontein 4x4

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Tackling the switchbacks Tackling the switchbacks - Photo: Trygve Roberts

The Bedrogfontein 4x4 trail between the Kabouga and Darlington areas of the Addo Elephant National Park provides breathtaking views and is rich in history. This route was the scene of fierce battles between the British and Boer troops during the Anglo-Boer war. Be sure to visit the cottage where Jan Smuts and his soldiers stayed and where he was in a coma after eating cycad seeds. Rock art paintings are found scattered throughout the area.

The route traverses through a variety of vegetation types, from riverine thicket, to afromontane forest, to fynbos on the peaks and into the arid Nama-Karoo of the Darlington area. This is strictly a 4x4 route and requires a vehicle with good ground clearance and low range. Bedrogfontein translates into Fraud Fountain. The route may only be driven from east to west and takes between 5 and 6 hours excluding stops and any side diversions. It is rated Grade 1 through to 3 and is suitable for intermediate and experienced drivers. It is recommended, but not mandatory to drive in a small group of at least two vehicles in case of a breakdown.

This page is comprehensive and will take about an hour and a half to absorb including the 65 minutes needed to watch all 14 videos. Once done, you will have comprehensive knowledge of the route, the area, history and general knowledge about the park. and its flora and fauna.

Scroll down to view the map & video. This is an overview video and consists entirely of Google Earth animations. It is designed to give the first time driver an overall idea of the size and scope of the route. The other more detailed 'on- car' videos follow sequentially in the appropriate place as the text unfolds. It is recommended to watch this video in HD. (Click on the "quality" button on the lower taskbar of the video screen and select 720HD.) Please wait a few seconds for the video to open.....

Overview & Orientation


[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts

FULL-SCREEN MODE: Click PLAY, then pass your mouse over the bottom right corner of the video screen. The outline of a square will appear. Clicking on it will toggle Full Screen Mode. Press ESC to return to the original format.

Note: Google Earth software reads the actual topography and ignores roads, cuttings, tunnels, bridges and excavations. The Google Earth vertical-profile animation generates a number of parallax errors, so the profile is only a general guide of what to expect in terms of gradients, distance and elevation. The graph may present some impossible and improbably sharp spikes, which should be ignored.

Digging into the details:

Getting there: From the small town of Kirkwood head north out of town on Sonop Street along the banks of the Sundays River for 2,3 km via the poort and take the first gravel road to the left which is clearly signposted. Drive west along this road for 3,8 km to arrive at the Kabouga control gate where you must get your permit and part with your hard earned cash. There are no card facilities.

Sign showing entry conditionsSign showing entry conditions / Photo: Trygve RobertsGeneral Information: The route is only suitable for vehicles with 4x4 and low range capabilities, both because of the terrain and to cause minimum impact on the environment. The 45 km route is graded 1-3 and can be easily traveled within six hours. The route is self-driven and can only be followed from Kabouga to Darlington. Kabouga is situated about 40 km (one hour's drive) from the main park entrance, near the town of Kirkwood. Darlington is situated about 150 km (two hour's drive) from the main park entrance. Accommodation is available in the form of camping at Mvubu campsite or at the Kabouga and Riverside Cottages - both on the Kabouga side of the trail. For information on accommodation please visit the Sanparks website.

Part 1 - Start at Kabouga Gate to the 5th km - Easy/Grade 1


[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts]

History of Addo National Park

In the early centuries, when great herds of wild animals roamed the Addo region, the Khoesan of the Iqua, Damasqua and Gonaqua clans lived in the area. They hunted and kept cattle but tragically were largely wiped out in the 1700s by the smallpox epidemic. Nomadic Xhosa tribes had kraals in the area, including Chief Cungwa of the Gqunukhwebe (near the Sundays River mouth and inland) and Chief Habana of the Dange (near the Wit River).

Addo elephantsAddo elephants / Photo: Open Africa

The Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) was proclaimed in 1931 to protect the remaining 11 Addo elephant. The great herds of elephant and other animal species had been all but decimated by hunters over the 1700s and 1800s. In the late 1800s, farmers began to colonise the area around the park, also taking their toll on the elephant population due to competition for water and crops. This conflict reached a head in 1919 when farmers called on the government to exterminate the elephants. The government even appointed a Major Pretorius to shoot the remaining elephants -  He killed 114 elephant between 1919 and 1920.

Public opinion then changed, leading to the proclamation of the park in 1931. The original size of the park was just over 2 000 hectares. Conflicts between elephants and farmers continued after proclamation, as no adequate fence enclosed the park. Finally in 1954, Graham Armstrong (the park manager at the time) developed an elephant-proof fence constructed using tram rails and lift cables and an area of 2 270 hectares was fenced in. There were 22 elephant in the park at the time. This Armstrong fence, named after its developer, is still used around the park today. Although the park was originally proclaimed to protect a single species, priorities have now changed to conserve the rich biological diversity found in the area.

Young Kudu bullsThe terrain is perfectly suited to kudu / Photo: AfricaShosholozaTackling the route from the Kabouga Gate: Our video is produced from east to west. The route is fairly easy to drive, but the going is (by necessity) fairly slow and we would rate it as a Grade 1 in terms of difficulty for the majority of its length and it only becomes Grade 2 for about 15% of the distance, with just a few short sections ramping up to Grade 3. The gradings can change quickly though when wet weather sets in. The route offers a wide variety of scenery, vegetation, bird and animal life and is a very productive way to spend a day in the Addo National Park's extensions.

Assuming a start at the eastern end of the trail a tour through the thriving citrus town of Kirkwood offers plenty of history with some excellent farm stays on offer. Travel northwards out of the village for 3 km past the golf course and cemetry and take the first gravel road to the left which is clearly marked. GPS S33.377506 E25.459125

Permits can be obtained at the main Addo Park office or at the Kabouga Gate. Please note that only cash is acceptable tender at Kabouga gate and as at December, 2017 when we filmed the route, the cost was around R550 per vehicle, excluding conservation fees, which we were exempted from by having a Widcard. After two clearly signposted 90 degree turns close to the gate, a pleasant section of 4,2 km ascends gently through lovely scenery and brings one to the rangers house. We suggest inserting the GPS waypoints of this point, as should you have an emergency, this will be the most likely place you will be able to muster assistance. Note that no firearms are allowed in the Addo National Park (or any National Park). 

Cape Vervet MonkeyCape Vervet Monkeys are commonly seen / Photo: SANBI

The road is narrow and winds through thick riverine vegetation. The keen observer might spot antelope like kudu and rhebuck and of course, this is baboon country. Warthogs, Cape Vervet Monkeys and Chacma baboons are plentiful and will stroll across the road in several places over this first section.

After 2 km a jeep track leads off to the right. This is the Woodlands Loop and will get you back to the main road after a 7 km detour. If you don't have a lot of time, continue straight on. Don't be fooled by how easy this first part of the trail is and any normal car would manage it up to the 13 km point, but things change progressively for the worse after the turn-off to the Mvubu campsite.

DEFLATE YOUR TYRES: As always, we urge drivers to get into the habit of tyre deflation. There are several benefits. Firstly it increases the tyre's footprint lengthwise which greatly improves traction. Your vehicle will offer a softer ride, making your trip more enjoyable and lastly tyre deflation decreases the risk of a puncture. There are a few conditions however - never drive faster than 80 kph on deflated tyres and reinflate as soon as you get back onto tar. Driving at fast speeds on tar can cause deflated tyres to overheat and blowout. Start off on gravel roads at 1,4 bar and drop them down to as low as 1 bar for rougher conditions and even as low as 0.5 bar in very soft sand or mud.

Part 2 - 5th to 13th km at Kabouga Cottage (Grade 1 / Easy)


[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts]

After another 4 km a second intersection makes an appearance. It is clearly signposted. Turn right to remain on the main trail, or if you go left, there is another circular option which will ultimately return you to the main track. This road also takes you to the Mvubu Tented Camp on the banks of the Sundays River, which is part of the Addo National Park. This loop also gives access to another extended 4x4 loop called the Vaalnek River Loop which runs to the west of the main road and rejoins it several kilometres later.

Intersection on the trailOne of many intersections along the route. They are all well marked. / Photo: Trygve Roberts

The road runs through thick bush alongside a mostly dry river bed and changes direction into the north. After 3.5 km there is another fork where you must keep left. The right hand fork leads to the Kabouga Cottage about 1 km up a track which follows the Kabouga River, which is a tributary of the Sundays River. The house, which sleeps 6 people, can be hired through the Addo NP main office.

After the Kabouga turn off the road heads west through dense indigenous riverine thicket for 7 km, then swings south west and follows another small river and then crosses it which marks the beginning of the first (false) ascent via a series of switchbacks to the spine of a ridge. The next intersection marks the start of the third 4x4 loop called the Main River Loop. If you want to tackle it, turn left and follow the signs but this loop can sometimes be closed depending on the river levels. It's always best to check at the control gate as to what is open in the reserve. Remain straight to continue on the main road. All the intersections are well sign posted in the form of green concrete triangles close to the roadway.

WarthogWarthog sightings are almost guaranteed / Photo: Google

The Addo Elephant National Park is still a developing park. New developments occur regularly. It is the third largest national park in South Africa and is renowned for its exceptional elephant viewing, currently the primary attraction, and reason for inclusion in most itineraries for visitors to the Garden Route or Eastern Cape. Besides other species the park includes a wide range of spectacular land- and seascapes, fauna and flora and, if including its concessionaires, offers a wide variety of accommodation facilities and activities in order to access a diverse market. The park has both terrestrial and marine components and existing boat charters currently offer boat cruises around the St Croix and Bird islands if permits allow, however no boats are permitted to land on the islands, and the park currently generates no income from any such activities. The park also includes the largest coastal transgressive dune field in the southern hemisphere, which at 88 km in length offers spectacular views and activity potential, an example of which is the existing Alexandria Hiking Trail.

Part 3 - 13th km to 20th km. (Easy/Grade 1)


[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts]

The natural and cultural heritage of the park has been studied by the Albany Museum, recording hundreds of sites of significance. This was done under what was known as the AENP cultural mapping pilot project conducted during 2002 by various researchers from the Albany Museum in Grahamstown. The Stone Age in the park begins in the Middle Stone Age (MSA) between 125 000 and 30 000 years ago. Scatters of MSA tools are reported along the Sundays River Valley and also inland at Addo Heights and Korhaansvlakte.

Sign markers on the routeStop and check the signposts to ensure you are on the right route / Photo: Trygve Roberts

The later Stone Age peoples were ancestral to the San (Bushmen) and Khoekhoen (Hottentot) peoples who lived in Southern Africa between 30, 000 and 1, 000 years ago. In South Africa these small hunter-gatherer groups lived at the coast, where they exploited the marine resources such as shell fish, fish, seals, and sea birds. Many hundreds of shell middens are found along the coast in the park. Inland groups frequently lived in caves and rock shelters and there are many sites in the Zuurberg Mountain which testify to this. There are also rock paintings in some of these caves.

Excavations were carried out at Melkhoutboom and Vygeboom and these uncovered graves with rich grave goods indicating a complex belief system. These sites contain well preserved plant remains which indicate how they utilized their environment. The majority of hunter-gatherer groups had been pushed out of the Zuurberg Mountain range by the 1820’s and were forced to move further inland to escape European settlement on their lands. The Khoikhoi pastoralists by the 16th and 17th centuries, were spread all along the Coastal forelands from Namibia to the Eastern Cape. Many of the shell middens in the park contain pottery, confirming the presence of the Khoikhoi in the area.

Part 4 - 20th km to 24th km. (Easy to Moderate - Grade 1/2)


[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts]

The road descends down this low ridge on its eastern side and after 1 km you will arrive at a shady spot where there used to be a dam with fresh water. The old windmill still stands forlornly overlooking the jumbled concrete and brick remains of the dam. The road meanders along this valley for another 800 meters where there is yet another fork.Take the left hand fork, which leads off into the south-west to enter another narrow kloof.

Driving the riverbedThe 'road' is over the river bed itself - dead slow with someone guiding / Photo: Trygve Roberts

Along this section there are multiple river crossings. Be aware that although we have rated this section as being easy (Grade 1), if there is water in the rivers, the grading can rapidly change all the way up to Grade 5. There is one sure way to know if your vehicle will more than likely make a deep water crossing - and that is to first walk it. Strip down to a pair of shorts; get hold of a stick and walk along both proposed tyre tracks, probing for rocks, logs and holes. If the water level rises higher than your knees, that is the first red flag. You also need to know exactly what your vehicle's safe wading depth is. You will find that information in the owners manual.

Once you have completed the walk through, you will undoubtedly know whether it is safe to attempt the crossing or not. Also pay attention to the speed of the current. A small 4x4 (like a Suzuki Jimny) will start floating or be swept away by the current long before a bigger heavier 4x4 (like a Toyota Land Cruiser), so take all those factors into consideration before attempting to drive through. If you are in any doubt, rather retreat or wait a while for water levels to drop. We have a video to demonstrate how to do a safe water crossing below: (not filmed on the Bedrogfontein Route)


From the 20th kilometre there is a progressive deterioration in the quality of the road, with the nicely graded gravel road, giving way to more and more stony sections via a two spoor jeep track. There are many river crossings along this section and the terrain becomes more undulating with several short steep ascents and descents. We filmed this route on a Monday and never saw another vehicle at any point on the route, providing a sense of total isolation. The filming was done from a stock standard Suzuki Jimny, but don't be fooled by how easy the video looks. We run a full 3 axes stabiliser on the camera to keep the footage as smooth as possible. The reality is a good deal more difficult than what it appears in the video. 

Part 5 - 25th km to 27th km. (Easy / Moderate / Difficult - Grade 1/2/3)


[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts]

There are numerous place names in the park which are derived from Khoikhoi, for example Kaba, Coerney (originally Koernoe), Nanaga, Boknes, Gorah, Kabouga, Kariega, Sapkamma, and others. The name ‘Addo’ is thought to be derived from the Khoikhoi word ‘!Ga-dao’ pronounced ‘gha (with a click) -dough’ meaning drift (dao) where the poisonous Noorsboom plant (!Ga) grows. This later became ‘Kadouw’ or Addo bush. These names confirm the presence of Khoikhoi tribal groupings such as the Inqua, Damasqua and Gonaqua.

This is prime habitat for Chacma baboonsThis is prime habitat for Chacma baboons / Photo: AfricaShosholoza

They were absorbed into the colonial lifestyle of the 18th century, becoming farm workers for the Dutch and British or clients of the Xhosa where they were engaged in elephant hunting. A few groups settled at missions such as Enon, Bethelsdorp, and Theopolis. They were largely wiped out in the 1700’s by the smallpox epidemic and human persecution. They left behind rock paintings on the walls of caves they inhabited as well as shell middens in the sand dunes in the area.

As the Portuguese advanced towards the East, they continued the practice of erecting inscribed limestone crosses to proclaim their presence. In 1938 Eric Axelson discovered the fragments of the Kwaaihoek cross. Today the stone copy of the padrao positioned by Bartholomew Dias in 1488 on Kwaaihoek falls within the footprint of the park. The Dutch farmers who had started farming in the Western Cape moved to the Eastern Cape in the 18th century.

Replica padrao at KwaaihoekThe replica padrao at Kwaaihoek in honour of the early Portuguese explorers / Photo: Wikipedia

Nomadic Xhosa tribes had kraals in the area, including Chief Cungwa of the Gqunukhwebe (near the Sundays River mouth and inland) and Chief Habana of the Dange (near the Wit River which rises in the Zuurberg and flows into the Sundays River).

The area occupied by the Addo Elephant National Park was described by travellers during the 18th and 19th centuries as ‘an impenetrable thorny thicket’ and a ‘hunter’s hell’. Much of it is still like that today.

Hunting for ivory began in earnest in the early 1700’s as people began settling in the Sundays River valley and further east. Here they began to clear the land to make way for cattle and crop farming. In 1786 Commandant Daniel Willem Kuuhn was granted a loan farm called De Gora. Large sections of this farm form part of the park as we know it today. Early writings record the presence of lions, ‘panthers’, rhino, buffalo, springbuck and wild dogs in the area of Sandflats (Patterson). There are records of red hartebeest, eland, hyaena, jackal and various antelope on the plains.

The route heads off towards the south-west at a fork, which is once again well marked. Make sure you keep right at this fork. The next section follows a narrow kloof for about 2 km. There are multiple river crossings through this kloof and Part 6 (video) ends at a 200m long section which is essentially the river bed itself, composed of large round stones and rocks.

Part 6 - 27th km to 30th km. (Moderate to Difficult - Grade 2/3)


[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts]

We recommend getting your passenger to guide you through these sections to ensure no part of your vehicle's undercarriage connects with any rocks. Patience and diligence are required and this is the most likely spot you might sustain damage to your vehicle. Don't rush it. Stay calm and choose your driving lines with care and try to place your front wheels on higher rocks which will by proxy help lift your vehicle higher, avoiding contact with rocks.

Once through the 200m long river bed section, the road reaches another intersection, where you must keep right. Next follows a short steep climb which includes two hairpins and one horseshoe bend. As elevation is gained, lovely views open up over the hills and valleys on your left, but be aware that the road is single width (and one of the reasons why this is a one way route) and narrow and peppered with earth mounds to divert water off the road. Each one of these needs a reduction in speed to around 10 kph as they tend to throw your passengers around in the vehicle if you take them too fast.

Part 7 - 30th km to 32nd km. (Moderate to Difficult - Grade 2/3)


[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts]

After the false summit point is reached (please note that this is the second highest point on the trail, as it is a false summit), the road kinks through a tight S-bend then begins a long descent to the reach the final river crossing and also the last intersection, where the right hand option must be taken.

As the road swings north again to enter the poort, the next 3 km has towering mountains on either side with the road swinging in and out of the ravines. The forests close in and the vegetation is dense and lush. This is a particularly beautiful section of the trail and is the actual Bedrogfonteinspoort.

Part 8 - 32nd km to 34th km. (Moderate - Grade 2)


[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts]

The road winds along the kloof, criss-crossing the small river multiples of times. The bush is filled with birdsong and although it's difficult spotting game here due to the dense vegetation, those with time and patienece will be richly rewarded. The track is rough in places and drivers need to be constantly aware of avoiding the sharp rocks which litter the roadway.

Looking east from the ridge after the first hillclimbLooking east from the ridge after the first hill-climb/ Photo: Trygve RobertsAfter about a kilometre, the road finally climbs up and out of the bush and clings to the side of the mountain as altitude is rapidly gained at a gradient of 1:11 into the west. Be aware that the side slopes are often uncomfortable, but not dangerous. The side of the mountain is composed of compacted sand and is subject to small landslides after heavy rain. Experienced off-road drivers always carry a spade in case of such an eventuality, where a bit of amateur road construction can sometimes be necessary.

Another fork is reached at the end of this initial climb where there is a no entry sign, which means you have to take the hairpin bend to the right. This bend is very sharp and curves through 170 degrees. The gradient suddenly ramps up to 1:5. If you have not yet selected low range, you should do so before this hairpin bend, as the next 300m of the climb is steep and uneven.

Soon the big climb begins with a double switchback which is very steep (1:5). It climbs relentlessly into the north-east providing excellent views down into the wooded valley on the right and after another kilometre, the road curves through a 160 degree horseshoe bend to the left, where the gradient flattens out onto a grassy knoll, at 510m ASL. This spot offers lovely views over the mountains and valleys and is a good spot to take a breather and some photos and allow you to regain your focus for the next part of the ascent.

Part 9 - 34th km to 36th km. (Moderate - Grade 2/3 - Middle section of the main ascent)


[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts]

By 1976 about 25-30 tons of oranges were fed to the elephants during the winter months. For want of a better system, a truck would enter the game area and dump the oranges. Elephants would run behind the vehicle trumpeting, roaring and grabbing oranges from the truck. They would be scared away from the entrance gate when the truck departed by cracking whips, throwing bricks and shouting. The vegetation around the feeding area was decimated, as elephants didn’t move out of the area for fear of missing the feeding sessions. Levels of aggression between the elephants rose and many were injured. Many elephant cows showed signs of stress by the secretions from their temporal glands when competing for oranges. Because of the negative impact on the vegetation and the elephants, the practice of feeding citrus was gradually phased out by 1979.

Look out for rare plants like theseLook for the cycads growing on a section up the main ascent / Photo: Trygve RobertsAfter the picnic spot, the road continues ascending through 8 severe switchbacks where the gradient is a consistent 1:5 and even steeper on some of the bends. You will need 4WD along this climb and low range is a better option for control. If it is raining, this climb could present problems. Keep a look out for cycads growing on the hillside.

If you want to stop for a breather or photos, the best places are on the hairpin bends themselves. However, photographers tend to spot a scene they want to capture and that might be on a steeper part of the climb. In such a case, you are highly unlikely to see another vehicle on this road, but remember to switch your vehicle's engine off and fully engage the handbrake, before getting out of your car.

In 1954, there were 22 elephants protected in the park. The last of the disease-free Cape buffalo were also protected by the establishment of the Park, as were the flightless dung beetle (endemic to the area, not just the park). Eland, the largest of the African antelope, were introduced into the park in 1957 and by 1971 had increased to such an extent that they were being sold to suitable game farms.

In 1968, the elephant bull Hapoor managed to cross the fence. It is believed that he used his massive weight to flatten the fence enough in order to get over it. The fence sprung back up behind him. His escape was detected by a former Addo ranger, Kleinbooi Kilane, who reported the escape to the warden, Sep le Roux. An attempt was made to chase him back into the park but he resisted and was eventually shot. He was about 50 when he died and his preserved head is on display at the Main Rest Camp in the Interpretive Centre.

In 1981, the first tourist drove through the park and in 1992, the farm Gorah was included into the park. The elephants made a rush for the area because of the abundance of prickly pears – a favourite of theirs. Park officials had to construct a new tourist road into the area as the elephants were no longer visible to the tourists in the original section and they complained of not seeing elephants.

Summit view looking north-west with the darlington dam in the backgroundSummit view looking north-west with the Darlington dam in the background / Photo: Trygve RobertsThe final climb to the true summit involves two switchbacks and finally the road summits at 855m ASL providing incredible views both north and south. The road you have just travelled stretches out into a tiny ribbon disappearing into the forests far below and to the north the shimmering waters of the Darlington dam hint at signs of civilization and the end of a fabulous offroad drive.

The true summit is an excellent place to take a breather, with the last of the big climbs behind you. The views from the summit are amazing. To the north the vast expanse of the Karoo stretch away into a distant haze of blues and grays with the shimmering waters of the Darlington Dam clearly visible to the north west. Turning a little further to the west, there are lofty views of the green banks of the Sundays River valley, whilst the views to the east present ridge upon ridge of mountains that you have just driven over.

The summit point at 855m ASL is one of the highlights of this route and provides one with an excellent perspective of the length of the route and a distinct feeling of accomplishment. Although a good portion of the road down the northern side of the mountain is visible from this vantage point, there is a still a fairly long way to go, including some very tight switchback sections, separated by a 1 km straight section. Use you gears and engine compression to slow your vehicle down for the descent which is long and steep.

Part 10 - 36th km to 38th km. (Moderate / Grade 2) - Final section of the main ascent and a portion of the northern descent)


[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts]

In 1992, hippopotamus were introduced to a section of the Sundays River at Kabouga. The current Rhino (bicornis bicornis) were introduced to the park in 1994 after the removal of the original (bicornis michaeli) which were the wrong species for the area. Burchell’s Zebra and Warthog were introduced in 1996 and in 2003, 6 Kalahari lions were introduced to the park as were the first hyenas.

Through the combined efforts of SANParks and private donor agencies such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Leslie Hill Succulent Trust, Humane Society of the United States and the Rhino and Elephant Foundation, the park has expanded to its present (2016) size of over 176 000 ha. The existing Marine Area is about an additional 4 000 ha. Once finally completed, the end result will make Addo the 3rd largest conservation area in SA after Kruger and Kgalagadi and the only park in the world to encompass the Big Seven.

Part 11 - 38th km to 40th km. (Moderate - Grade 2 - Lower part of the northern decent)


[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts]

The trip is not over yet as the descent still awaits with no less than 11 hairpins. The gradients on the descent are not as severe as the ascent, but they are nontheless steep and dangerous. The first 5 hairpins follow each other rapidly, then the road heads west and continues descending for 1.5 km to the start of the next set of 6 hairpins which lose altitude rapidly as the road heads for the bottom of the valley where it swings away into the west again and follows the course of a small river.

South African national parks are managed as natural systems in which conservationists try as best as possible to mimic natural processes. Nowhere in a natural system would one find water holes dispersed evenly across the landscape. Nature has a way of avoiding this at all costs to prevent the homogenous use of vegetation which ultimately will lead to the extinction or degrading of species.  Hapoor is a good example of what could potentially happen at water holes if limitless water is provided. The habitat is altered significantly.

Part 12 - 40th km to 45th km. (Easy - Grade 1)


[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts]

Sanparks have to try and avoid the same thing happening around all the other water points.  For the park to be sustainable into the future, they to mimic nature as closely as possible. For this reason the Park has a water gradient in place that has been around for a couple of years now. AENP’s imaginary river is represented by the line from Marion Baree via Spekboom, Hapoor, Rooidam, Ghwari, Woodlands, Nyathi and Domkrag, where large amounts of water are provided.

Grey RhebuckGrey Rhebuck

The remaining water holes in the park are there to meet the needs of the other species.  In this way elephants are forced to not homogenously use the landscape. In times when there are good rains elephants will be found across the park when all pans and dams have water. During drier periods, elephants move back to the main water sources, thus protecting the Colchester thicket from being over-browsed during dry periods. The water holes in the Colchester section are purposefully limited in number as well as the quantity of water available. 

The road heads into the north west for 5 km along a fairly flat section, where the final fork is reached. Keep to the right. Keep a look out for the old ox wagon on the side of the road along this section. Although this section of the route is rated Grade 1, it is peppered with ruts, washaways, sharp stones, several river crossings (usually dry) with steep entry and exit angles and some surprisingly sharp corners. Add hundreds of speed bumps and it becomes obvious that speed has to be kept below 25 kph by necessity - and it should also be remembered that is maximum speed limit throughout the park. This is so determined for your own safety as well as minimising the risk of running over any animals.

The track passes close to a watering hole which is easy to spot by its nearby windpump and for those with some time on their hands, makes for a good spot for game viewing. The last 4 km crosses over a large farm dam wall then heads  back into the west, towards the final kloof which includes a short,steep and twisty drive.

Part 13 - 45th km to 47th. (Easy - Grade 1)


[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts] 

Once the road enters the kloof, via a set of S-bends, the gradient kicks up sharply to 1:10, but this doesn't last long, after which the road tops out and levels off on a small ridge. There is a square stone structure about 1m high on the right hand side of the road to indicate you are very close to the end of the route. A short 500 m section brings you to a T-junction with the main gravel road that leads past the Darlington dam. Several options are available for traveling to your next destination, depending on where that is.

Darlington dam wallDarlington Dam / Photo: WikipediaTurning left will take you past the Darlington dam wall and the road heads north-west for a total of 45 km to join the tarred R75. A left turn at the tar will get you back to Kirkwood in short order on a good, fast road.  A right will take you to Jansenville.

The Addo National Park is in an on-going process of acquiring additional land and some of the sections you have driven through fall under that category. We highly recommend this route. It is not particularly difficult - probably no more than Grade 2/3 - but do not drive it if you dont have an entire day at your disposal. Take your time - have a picnic - stop for photographs - go for a walk - breathe in the clean country air - marvel at the variety of flora and fauna - relax and have a great trip!

More information on Addo:
The climate is temperate to hot and temperatures in summer (November to February) may reach over 40 degrees Celsius. Winter days are mild but cold at night with frost occurring at times. The average annual rainfall is 450 mm and is spread throughout the year, although peaks do often occur in February/March and October/November.

The swimming pool is for overnight guests only.

  • Hot days at waterholes are best for elephant viewing.

  • Lions and spotted hyenas are most often seen in the early morning or evening to night time.

  • Pets are not allowed in national parks.

  • Vehicle fuel is available in all parks (or is available on the park periphery).

    Firearms are to be declared at reception where they will be sealed. The seal will be broken upon departure.

What visitors need to take along (preparation for the trip):

Bring along binoculars, cameras, walking shoes and wildlife reference books.

As outdoor lighting in camps is limited, therefore a torch/headlamp is required when walking outside at night.

A road map of tourist routes within the park will be given to each vehicle upon entering the Park. Additional maps are for sale at the shop. Various information sheets are available at reception.

For summer (September - March), cool comfortable clothing is recommended along with sunhats and sunscreen.

For winter and autumn (April - August), warm clothing is recommended, especially for the night times.

Insect repellent is recommended, especially in summer.

No immunisations are needed for travel to the park as it is situated in a malaria-free area.


For emergencies within the park, contact reception during office hours (07:00 - 19:00) on +27 (0)42 233 8600 or the Manager on Duty after hours on 082 471 0267.

The nearest hospital and doctors are in Kirkwood, 35km from the park.
Hospital Tel (after hours): +27 (0) 42 230 0406
Doctor Tel (office hours): + 27 (0) 42 230 1082

The nearest private hospital is in Port Elizabeth, 75km from the park.
Greenacres Hospital Tel: +27 (0) 41 390 7000

The nearest police station is in Addo, 15km from the park.
Tel: +27 (0) 42 233 0314

[Source: Sanparks - 2017]

Fact File:


S33.376574 E25.460996


S33.258558 E25.282939


S33.206507 E25.195867














46,6 km




5 to 6 hours


25 kph


Gravel/ Jeep Track






Kirkwood (3 km from start)

Route Map:

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From Address:

Route files:

||Click to download: Bedrogfontein 4x4 (Note: This is a .kmz file which can be read in Google Earth and most GPS software systems) 

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