GETTING THERE & DIRECTIONS
Last updated: 17th April 2023
The tunes are pumping, the vibes are a'flowing and the world has never looked more beautiful as you and your mates/soulmates/lovers and cousins are finally on the road after hours of car tetris and some tears over the splash pool that simply couldn't fit in. But this is not the part where you light up / crack open a favourite and let loose. Lives have been lost on the R355. Pull on some serious adult pants and PLAN WELL AHEAD so you have loads of time to take it super slow once you depart from otherwise tame roads and tackle the R355. Besides, tyres are expensive.
Latest update on the R355:
Gerhard Gibbs writes: I have been involved with Afrikaburn for 12 years, 8 Afrikaburns and 4 Bikerburns, have been traveling the gravel road for years before that and during the years involved another 6 to 8 times a year on motorcycle to give you some indication of my experience of the road.
I’ve just been to the site this weekend and the road, especially up to the Tankwa Padstal is in the most dangerous condition I have ever seen it.
Generally the surface is good, there’s still absolutely no problem in you driving a normal vehicle to the site, but you cannot speed, do not even think about trying to overtake, even with the best 4x4 - if you are not 100% sure you can see the road in front of you.
In places the shoulder of the road, sometimes half way into the one lane, has been washed away by the rains and flooding. There is warning signs up but I also passed some where they have fallen over, and 1 or 2 places the flooding caused a ditch which if you hit it at speed would cause damage or maybe the end of your experience.
I have been trained by both the Military and Fire&Rescue services in advanced driving, drive a 4x4 vehicle which technology won the Paris-to-Dakar rally 12 times – and even without traffic this weekend I had to take it easy.
We say it every year – take your time, don’t start your party too early and if you do appoint a designated driver who would not be distracted from taking his/her eyes off the road - make the journey part of the experience as it should be. Don’t trust Google Maps – it was my first time to the new site and it took me onto some bad roads which led me to about 4km from the site, but I ended me up at a locked gate and had to turn around. The real road is much easier and quicker and generally in better condition after the “Padstal”. Follow the Afrikaburn signs, it is really not a bad road if you adhere to all the rules and apparently it is going to be scraped as well this week – I just cannot see them finishing some of the bad sections before next week. Safe travel, I/we would love to see you on the Playa – just don’t be stupid, rather take 1 hour longer for 7 days of fun in the sun.
RULE ONE: SLOW THE F*CK DOWN – keep to the safe speed limit of 70Km/h
Please bear in mind the R355 is a deceptive dirt road that has claimed many lives. Please drive calmly, even if you have a 4x4, and especially if you don’t.
The last stretch of road is a narrow farm road – please be patient when arriving as there may be a queue.
RULE TWO: Don't follow the GPS coordinates
The GPS coordinates for the entrance are: 32°28'57.5"S 19°53'51.4"E or type 'Quaggakop' into your GPS app - NOT Quaggafontein. BUT ... don't just punch these coordinates in as you may get routed through someone else's farm.
Some GPS apps will take you to Ceres first then make you turn around back to Tankwa! Some experienced Burners trusted the GPS once and it took them on this extremely bizarre pass that was even worse than the Calvinia road. It was kak as... Well it was kak. Anything faster than 20 km/h would make their car vibrate like a de-sensitised road flattening vibrator. You have been warned!
Don't click this link: https://goo.gl/maps/msYmxxgKT4ymsdYPA
HOW TO SURVIVE THE R355:
#1TIP: STICK TO 70KM/H (or less) – and DO NOT OVERTAKE IF YOU CANNOT SEE AHEAD.
• Normal road safety rules apply, even to (and especially) RV’s and 4x4’s. Just because you drive a 5-litre 4x4 doesn’t mean your ass won’t roll and your tyres won’t get shredded.
• We strongly recommend travelling in convoy.
• Drive up during daylight hours – it’s much safer!
• Don’t overload your vehicle.
• Don’t speed - 70km/h is good, but if your vehicle is heavy, reduce speed to 50km/h or less.
• Drive at dawn - in the heat of midday, tyres heat up, which means your sidewalls/tyres puncture easier and the shale rock on the road fractures easier. Cooler tyres + cooler roads = less punctures and blowouts.
• The R355 is one helluva lot of dirt road. It has some bad patches where sharp stones puncture sidewalls (yes, even the sidewalls of your Roadmuncher Desert Eagles), so please drive carefully and slowly.
• It’s tempting to feel like you’re almost there when you hit the dirt road – you aren’t. It takes about an hour and a half to cover the dirt section, which is the most treacherous part. We’re not kidding – observe the many stripped tyres alongside the road.
• Cellphone coverage is patchy along the dirt road. The last reliable signal is just before you pass through Karoopoort from the south, and at Bloukrans Pass from the north.
• Enjoy the view. But if you stop on the dirt road, pull off to the side - and do not, under any circumstances, stop on a blind rise.
2023.04.11 Update: Click here for some current road trips from Trevor.
SAVING YOUR TYRES
It’s legend and fact: the R355 eats tyres for breakfast, lunch and supper. Here are some blowout avoidance tips:
• Check your tyres and tyre pressures before you leave, make sure they are in good nick.
• Keep your tyres inflated as per the manufacturer guidelines, so that the sidewalls of your tyres have less exposure to sharp stones
• We know it’s a big ask - but try not to overload your vehicle.
• Try NOT to cross over the stony ‘middle-mannetjie’ (middle path). In the same breath, don't hug the road too closely on the left either, as larger sharp stones are often flung from the road to gather there in packs.
• We recommend that you take two spares with you as well as a tyre repair kit. Take a tip from the local farmers – carry snotplugs and a compressor (or tyre pump / Tyre Weld).
• Keep your spare tyres accessible when packing.
• Our crew don’t patrol the R355 and are not able to provide assistance outside of the event.
• There is a tyre repair station at Tankwa Tented Camp or the Tankwa Padstal folk will usually try to help.
• Respect donkey carts and animals - donkeys do not move out of the way!
• When passing, slow down to reduce rocks and dust, don't cut straight back into the car in front of you as you may kick stones up into their windscreen.
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: DO NOT OVERTAKE WHEN THE ROAD AHEAD IS OBSCURED BY DUST.
This has been the cause of fatal head-on collisions in the past. Please understand – this is lethal, fatal, dangerous behaviour. PLEASE DON’T DO IT.
DIRECTIONS TO QUAGGAFONTEIN
FROM CAPE TOWN
Aweh! Rad you could make it bru!
Take the N1 North, passing Paarl, Worcester and De Doorns. 10km before you reach Touwsrivier, 160km from Cape Town, take the LEFT onto the R46, towards Ceres. If you need to fill up on fuel, do so – Worcester or Touwsrivier are your last chances.
This road continues for approximately 40km and ends in a T-junction. At the T-junction turn RIGHT onto the tyre-munching R355 towards Calvinia and Sutherland. Approximately 100m on, you’ll hit the dirt.
You brought a spare wheel, right? Good. Oh, you brought two? Smart move.
This stretch of road is dangerous. Like psycho-pitbull-with-a-hangover dangerous. DO NOT DRIVE AT HIGH SPEED.
It’s a long road - take in the view, read the signs.
Round about now, you lose cellphone signal (did you download a podcast from Radio Free Tankwa?). Switch it off and forget about it. Goodbye telecommunication, hello real communication!
Stay on the R355 towards Calvinia and the Tankwa Padstal, you'll see a giant crashed flying saucer just outside it. The Padstal is a great place to stretch your feet and the last WiFi you'll have for a while. Once you're fully refreshed, get back on the R355 heading north towards the Tankwa Karoo National Park.
About 22km from the Tankwa Padstal, you'll see a turn off to your right, that is also signposted "Tankwa Karoo National Park". Take this turning that heads East towards Quaggafontein.
Continue along this road for about 33km and then the entrance to Quaggafontein (and AfrikaBurn) will be on your right-hand side.
It’s a rough road, so take it easy - you’re nearly there.
As you go through the gate, you’ll come to Die Hek, the gate to Tankwa Town, and Box Office. Here you will be checked in, and your tickets scanned.
Move along to the Greeting Station. Take a deep breath. Step through the portal.
If you’re a Virgin, ring the virgin bell!
From Jozi? Huzzit, China!
Take the N1 South to Bloemfontein/Cape Town. Stay on the N1 through Colesburg, Hanover and Richmond.
From Richmond travel 64km on the N1 and turn right onto the R63 to Victoria West. Travel on the R63 through Victoria West and follow the road and signs to Calvinia.
Note: Do not attempt to go via the R354 (Middlepos) road. It is in an extremely bad state and will take you 8 hours to do the 180 km or so to Quaggafontein.
Also take note: This is the last time you will have phone signal until you get back to this spot - this includes at the event.
Calvinia is the last place where you can get supplies (water, gas, petrol, etc.), so if you need them, get them. There are no shops after Calvinia.
Drive through Calvinia and about 2km outside of town you’ll see a sign ‘Ceres R355’. Turn left here onto the gravel road to Ceres. Stick to the R355 until you get the turnoff to the Tankwa Karoo National park (About 50 or so km from the Calvinia side) you will see a board on the roadside saying Calvinia-Ceres - turn left at that turn. This is the shortest road to take, it does have a couple of sections that has been somewhat washed away but it is manageable if you take it slowly.
Do NOT drive faster that 70km per hour under any circumstances, or in any vehicle, at any time along this gravel road!
Continue along this road for about 90km and then the entrance to Quaggafontein (and AfrikaBurn) will be on your left-hand side.
Alternative route 1: Continue to travel carefully along the R355 for approximately 140km. Do not turn off, but rather follow the R355 down past Stonehenge/Tankwa Tented Camp
Watch up ahead for a Junction with a road to the left that is also signposted "Tankwa Karoo National Park". Take this turning that heads East towards Quaggafontein.
Continue along this road for about 33km and then the entrance to Quaggafontein (and AfrikaBurn) will be on your right-hand side. You’re almost there boet!
Alternative route 2: You can also drive all the way down the N1 to Touws River and then turn right back up towards the R355 at Touws River and follow the Cape Town directions. This is the current preferred route for our creative crews from Joburg
Drive about 5km SLOWLY along the entrance road.
Holy crap, you’re close now! Further along you’ll come to Die Hek, our event gate and Box Office
Move along to the Greeting Station. Take a deep breath.
Virgin? Welcome – ring the bell!
Van Bloem af, chomma? Mooi so!
Take the N8 to Kimberley and then continue along the N12 to Victoria West.
Turn right into the R63 at Victoria West (T-junction), thereafter follow the directions listed above for Johannesburg from Victoria West onward.
Again, from Bloem you can also just follow the N1 to Touws River (Alternative route 2).
From Durbs? Hundreds bru!
Take the N3 out of town, and head to Harrismith.
At Harrismith, take the N5 via Bethlehem to Winberg, where you join the N1 and follow this to Bloemfontein.
Thereafter follow the directions listed for Bloemfontein.
Also see: Maps.