Nestled between Hoedspruit and Tzaneen, on the outskirts of Ofcolaco, down a red-dirt road populated with cows and subsistence farms, lies a wilderness paradise. “Legkalameetse” meaning “the place of water” in saPedi is an appropriate name for this wilderness contiguous with the Wolkberg mountains. Sparkling rivers, waterfalls and pools add a rich, luxuriousness to this vast landscape.
The Orrie Baragwanath Pass bisects the Lekgalameetse Provincial Park. The steep, tarred road climbs from the main gate for 12.5km past avocado orchards, a roadside waterfall and through dense indigenous forest to peak at the grasslands summit at 1370m. From here the road turns to red African clay and meanders through an area known as, “The Downs” and the old farmstead. Rugged mountain peaks frame The Downs and creates a feeling of remoteness. Herds of wild zebras roam the plains along with eland and Nguni cattle.
About 13.5km from the eastern gate look for the two garbage bins and a faint track leading to the right. After 200 meters notice an entrance to a quiet, still, impossibly green, wild fig grove used by previous residents as a sacred gathering place known at die Kerk/The Cathedral.
Just beyond the turnoff for the die Kerk/The Cathedral is another faint grass track on the right. The track meanders up past pioneer graves and becomes steep and rocky. From the highest point take a short hike to a cliff viewpoint known as “The Knuckles.” The sweeping vista overlooks the Tour dam and the next valley over. The track descends past ruins of the farmstead and pops out onto the main Orrie Baragwanath Pass Road.
The Orrie Baragwanath Pass continues through rolling hills and turns a corner with sweeping views of the Wolkberg mountains. From here rocks dominate the road leading to the gate at the western end of the pass. Round trip from gate to gate (without side trips) is 45km with 1060m gain.
It is also possible to start at the main gate and cycle past the chalets and head up on 4x4 tracks and trails to come out through a wattle forest at the top of the pass. This 45k/849m loop requires navigation skills and wilderness proficiency.
Lekgalameetse Provincial Park offers unparalleled beauty and natural diversity. At Lekgalameetse, it is possible to leave the world behind and cycle into the timeless peace and inspiration of wild places.