RAVE RUN: Melton Wold, Karoo Highlands


Penelope Cairns |

Melton Wold, Karoo Highlands

Image by Jacques Marais.
Image by Jacques Marais.

Photographs & words by…
Jacques Marais

Runner…
Peter Kirk (and Misty)

GPS Location
31°28’02.6”S 22°20’32.7”E

Grading

All levels.

Duration

The 6km loop around the dam and airstrip will take an average runner less than an hour. However, you can bump this up considerably by heading into the game area to the west – the 30km loop will take at least three to four hours.

Best Time To Run

This is the Karoo, so you should expect sizzling summer temperatures peaking in the mid-40s, despite the high altitude on the inland plateau. Run early during the hotter months, and pack enough water. On the flip side, temperatures on winter days and nights may drop well below freezing – if you’re there then, wear layers.

Jacques Marais
Jacques Marais

Terrain

Hard-packed gravel trails, stretches of fist-sized rocks, sandy dual tracks and eroded game footpaths. This part of the Karoo Highlands is less arid than you’d expect. There are sections of marsh in the grasslands, especially after rainfall during summer.

Configuration

Running through the grassland marshes and shimmering vleis after a rain shower is rewarding. Endless plains unfold from the guesthouse, along the dam wall and into the game camps, where you’ll find at least 40km of gritty gravel roads and 4×4 tracks.

The surface is pretty rocky in places – watch your step as you dogleg back onto the plains, on the opposite side of the dam. Chances are you’ll spook herds of dust-puffing wildebeest or eland, as you approach the gravel airstrip along the floodplains.

Slog further south, past an abandoned diamond mine, then look out for a sign showing the way to an excellent example of a brachiosaur fossil, which is approximately 5km from the homestead. Outstanding birding makes running here even more worthwhile.

Jacques Marais
Jacques Marais

Refuel At

At Die Rooi Granaat Deli and Restaurant, friendly tannies cook decent-sized farm breakfasts and mouth-watering lunches. Also worth a try: homemade confectionery, milkshakes, biltong, goat’s-milk cheese and delectable tarts (rooigranaat.co.za / 082 805 2982)

Other Activities

Old truck museum; indigenous nursery; a geoglyph of a riverine rabbit; camping; MTB routes

Interesting Fact

Loxton is one of the few dorps in South Africa that still has a working irrigation-canal system.
This peaceful, serene rural village is being rejuvenated by a mini-renaissance. Every second person you meet has come from the city in search of fresh air and big-sky spaces, and they can’t wait to share some ‘Loxton love’.

The town lies at the heart of the riverine rabbit conservation area; but there’s more to this part of the Karoo Highlands than a few endangered bunnies…

Getting There

Many roads lead to Loxton, but the easiest way is via the N1, towards Beaufort West. Then, follow the R381 for approximately 105km, towards Loxton. Melton Wold is situated a further 40km along the road to Victoria West.