The Knersvlakte is not really the sort of place you want to get lost in. Think infinite scrubland plains, no human habitation for kilometre upon kilometre, and elemental temperature shifts that could either fry or freeze you, depending on the season. But the colours vary too, with browns and greens morphing into multi-coloured hues with the blooming of the annual spring flowers.
It’s a harsh space, but the landscape is imbued with an innate minimalist beauty that’s impossible to ignore once you’ve spent some time here. Running is one way to do exactly this, with a range of trails criss-crossing not only the Knersvlakte Plains, but also the imposing bulk of the Maskam and Gifberg ranges in the distance.
Slog it out on a gravel road side-swiping into the belly of the Kobee near Vanrhynsdorp, or go head to head with gravity up and over Gifberg Pass. This makes for an excellent hill-training run, especially from Maskam Guest Farm (www.maskamguestfarm.co.za). Jog the 2km to the Gifberg Road and then turn right; then ascend just on 12km onto the high plateau.
For more info on the region, check out visitnwc.com.
BEST TIME TO RUN
It gets damned hot in the Namaqua interior during the summer months, while winter kicks in a with a proper Big Freeze. Spring and autumn may be your best bet (and spring is flower season), but keep this in mind when planning your run: early-morning missions will negate the heat, and proper technical apparel will ensure you survive sub-zero workouts.
From Cape Town, head north along the N7 to Vanrhynsdorp; this easy 300km cruise should take you about 3.5 hours. Maskam Guest Farm is about 14km out of town, on the Gifberg gravel road – look out for the farm signage to your right before you start ascending the pass.
WORDS & PICTURES: Jacques Marais
RUNNER: Peter Kirk
GPS: -31.702498, 18.742189
PLANNING A RUN-CATION? FOR MORE INSPIRING PLACES TO RUN, VISIT https://www.runnersworld.co.za/travel/