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South Africa

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25 Places that must be on your cycle bucket list

Article from the January 2015 issue of Ride Magazine.

As you read this, we hope you are kicking back, feet up, with a cold drink, dreaming of your next ride. Which could be one of the 25 bucket-listers we have brought you this issue.

Jacques Marais is a legendary photographer, journalist and mountain biker, and we have partnered with him on this little project by dipping into his two bestseller volumes. 100 Top MTB Trails has been around for a few years now, and was very Cape-centric (which is where the uber-riding is, we say without a hint of bias), so we welcomed with open arms the follow-up, cunningly called More Top MTB Trails when it was launched a few months ago. We haven’t replicated exactly what is in these bikey bibles; there isn’t room for that and we want you to buy the books anyway, but hopefully the brief peek here will give you enough info to plan tomorrow’s grand adventure.

Obviously, choosing just 25 out of the 200 Jacques lists means we will have had to skip some must-do options – again, buy the book(s) (drop a subtle late-Christmas gift hint if you must, Mapstudio has a great Ride reader special-offer on page 30). That doesn’t mean they were not worthy, but it could well mean you can expect a full trail review in an upcoming issue of Ride. For now, ride here:

Mpumalanga

Mankele

Where to goLekker lowveld riding, Mankele is one of the legendary MTB destinations in South Africa. And for good reason. The riding is superbly varied – from super-technical to beginner-friendly open-road riding – so there is a challenge for everyone. There is even a nationals-level DH run, for the gravity gurus. Xmas Enduro, anyone?

Entry requirements:

Entry fee per bike; open seven days a week

Facilities:

Coffee shop, swimming pool, ablutions, camp site and log cabins

Beware of:

Snakes, ticks, speeding gravity riders, sunburn

More information:

Mankele hosts events such as the Isuzu 3 Towers, Mankele Avalanche and XC & Downhill Nationals

How to get there

Leave the N4 at the Sudwala Caves (Sabie) off-ramp and travel 6km 5 towards Sabie on the R539. The entry to Mankele will be on your right.

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Easy to Extreme

Duration: Various; 45 minutes to 8 hours

Configuration: Interlinked trail network

Start Point: Trail Centre Kiosk

Coordinates: S25°23’20.1″; E30°42’43.4″

Terrain: Dirt roads and jeep tracks, singletrack, drop-offs, switchbacks, wooden bridges and berms

Map: Available at reception and on website

Cell Reception: Yes

Misty Valley

Where to goArguably the most beautiful MTB destination we have chosen, Misty Valley is mostly flat (mostly) but makes up for the lack of hairy downhills with a network of switchback trails, bridges and boardwalks for a seriously fun, whoopy day out. And they have some reasonably decent bikes for hire too.

Entry requirements:

Day permits available from resort reception

Facilities:

All accommodation and basic needs catered for at resort

Beware of:

Summer thunderstorms; boardwalk sections slippery when wet

How to get there

Follow the N4 from elVlahahleni (Witbank) to eMakhazeni (Belfast), then turn right at eNtokozweni (Machadodorp). From here, follow the Badplaas Road (R541) for 13km, then turn left onto Slaaihoek Road and continue for a further 12km till you see the Misty Valley Lodge entrance.

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Easy to Extreme

Duration: 30 minutes to 3.5 hours

Configuration: Nearly a dozen trails; circular and return options

Start point: Misty Valley Lodge

Coordinates: S25°45’14.5″; E30°26’08.3″

Terrain: Gravel roads, dual track, purpose- built singletrack, wooden bridges

Map: Good, but trails are well-marked

Cell reception: Along most of the route

Sabie

Where to goPine plantations offer sublime riding – cool logging roads, and soft, loamy singletrack that is fun for beginners and experienced riders alike. There is a wide range of options in the Sabie area, from short XCO leg-burners, to long all-day explores, with waterfalls and more to hunt in the summer heat.

Entry requirements:

Permits required, from Merry Pebbles Resort

Facilities:

Self-catering accommodation and ablutions at Merry Pebbles Resort

Beware of:

It gets dark early in the forest, so don’t leave late in the afternoon

More information:

Contact Merry Pebbles for more information

How to get there:

Take the N4 to Mbombela where you turn onto the R537 going north to Sabie. At Sabie, follow the signs to the Merry Pebbles Resort and Castle Rock Campsite.

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Easy to Extreme

Duration: 1-5 hours

Configuration: A network of return or loop options

Start point: Merry Pebbles Resort

Coordinates: S25°05’44.4″; E30°45’58.7″

Terrain: Roads and jeep tracks, singletrack, forestry roads

Map: Available from Merry Pebbles Resort

Cell Reception: Intermittent

Gauteng

The Spruit

So you missed the holiday boat, and are stuck in the City of Gold for the hols. No problem. That just means the Spruit will be quieter and more fun, with fewer head-on interactions, and perfect conditions for Strava madness.

Entry requirements:

Public access between 6am and 6pm

Facilities:

Top facilities at Emmarentia Dam for the outdoor crowd; also entry here to Johannesburg Botanical Gardens

Beware of:

Muggings and traffic are a problem; also potential flash floods in summer – take care!

How to get there

This is one of Johannesburg’s most prominent green belts, starting on Melville Koppies in the south and ending in Paulshof in the north.

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Easy to Intermediate

Duration: Various options, up to 50km and more

Configuration: Return/there-and-back

Start point: Various safe starting points, including Emmarentia Dam and Delta Park Environmental Centre

Coordinates: S26°09’01.0″; E28°00’21.0″

Terrain: Singletrack footpaths

Map

Cell Reception: Full reception

Thaba Trails

Where to goThere is an option for everyone here, and the routes should be quiet as the exodus to the coast takes hold. Well-marked, and great fun, lose yourself within spitting distance of the big smoke.

Entry requirements:

Open 6.30am to 5pm; night rides on Tuesdays; entrance fee payable

Facilities:

Ablutions, safe parking, bike-wash facilities, refreshments

Beware of:

Some of the tracks are dual-directional tracks, so please keep left

How to get there

You’ll find Thaba Trails at 101 Klip River Drive, Mulbarton, just across the road (R556) from the Panorama Shopping Centre on the premises of Southern Brickyard.

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Easy to Extreme

Duration: Various: 40 minutes to 4 hours

Configuration: Circular options; 6-30km

Start point: Thaba Trails office

Coordinates: S26°18’03.6″; E28°02’55.9″

Terrain: Singletrack and jeep track

Map: Map available on website

Cell Reception: Yes

Kwa Zulu Natal

Clearwater Trails

Plan two days, not one, of sports pass for Clearwater, there are too many options to do it justice in just one. And even if you do, you will want to come back and enjoy the passion that goes into the design, building and maintenance of the trails.

Entry requirements:

Day visitors welcome; fee payable

Facilities:

Ablutions, self-catering timber chalets, camping, braais, kiosk

Beware of:

Go out in pairs or groups for longer rides

More information:

Map

How to get there

Travel 5km inland from the Port Edward traffic lights (R61) on the Izingolweni Road. Turn left here onto a gravel road (D595) signposted to Clearwater Trails and Taverna. Another 2km will get you to the end, where you turn right at the sign.

Cell Reception:

Yes, along most of trail

Where to goTrail Info

Grading: Easy to Difficult

Duration: Various, from 30 minutes to 4 hours

Configuration: Circular plus out-and-back; from 4.7-16km

Start point: Clearwater Cabins and Trails office

Coordinates: S31°02’46.5″; E30°10’07.6″

Terrain: Farm road, singletrack, dirt road, gravel and tar

Map: Available at reception

Where to goHolla Trails

Pop over the N2 from Ballito and escape the madness on a well-marked, tough-as-you-want-to-make-it set of trails that range from beginner to flippin hard. Climbing aplenty is rewarded with well-thoughtout descents and just enough flat sections to recover your breath. Just a quick warning: the long route is very long in the heat.

Entry requirements:

Day or annual permits available

Facilities:

Secure parking, ablutions, bike wash, light snacks and drinks

Beware of:

Tractors and farming traffic

How to get there

Follow Ballito Drive (M4) past the N2 to the T-junction with the R102 and turn left. Proceed fpr 800m before turning right on Esenembi Road. Drive on for approxiamately 1.2km and turn right towards Collishen Estate and Holla MTB Trails.

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Easy to Extreme

Duration: Various: 1-8 hours

Configuration: Circular and return options; 340km in total

Start Point: Collisheen Estates

Coordinates: S29°29’30.9″; E31°10’54.9″

Terrain: Jeep track, singletrack, wooden bridges and farm roads

Map: Map available at Holla MTB Trails and on website

Cell reception: Yes

Karkloof

Where to goWe reviewed Karkloof in our December issue, in detail, suffice to say this is probably the top KZN destination for the MTB family – there are options for all abilities and intents, on well-marked, rider-built trails.

Entry requirements:

Fee payable at Karkloof Country Club

Facilities:

Toilets and ablutions, kiosk and pub, safe parking

Beware of:

Fire danger between June and September

More information:

Map

How to get there

Take the Howick off-ramp from the N3 and continue onto the Main Street; turn onto the Karkloof Road and continue for 12km until you see the signs for Karkloof Country Club to your right (this is the D406 district road).

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Intermediate

Duration: 2-3 hours

Configuration: Circular ride, 30km

Start Point: Karkloof Country Club

Coordinates: S29°22’59.4″; E30°13’48.8″

Terrain: Superb singletrack most of the way

Map: Available at the Karkloof Country Club

Cell Reception: Yes

Rocky Bay

Stuck on the South Coast with nowhere to go? Head to Rocky Bay Resort and enjoy their kilometres of lush forested and sugarcane roads and tracks, including 20-odd kilometres of the trails the annual Sani2c finishes on.

Entry requirements:

Entry fee per bike

Facilities:

Shop, restaurant, ablutions, secure parking, swimming pool and various accommodation options

Beware of:

Vehicles on the farm roads; there is no water on the trails

More information:

Join the Rocky Bay Resort Facebook page for updates on events and specials

How to get there

Travelling from Durban, south on the N2, take the Park Rynie/ uMzinto (R612) off-ramp, turning left towards the sea. At the robot, turn right onto Old South Coast Road and travel for ± 2km. Rocky Bay Resort will be on your left-hand

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Easy to Difficult

Duration: 1-3 hours

Configuration: Four loops of 11km, 19km, 29km and 36km

Start Point: Rocky Bay Resort

Coordinates: S30°20’08.2″; E30°43’57.9″

Terrain: From hard gravel farm roads to smooth singletrack

Map

Cell reception: Good

Limpopo

Kruger National Park

The trails from the Oliphants Rest Camp take you through big five country, and you are escorted by armed rangers at all times. Riding varies from sandy to technical, and the heat will be a factor, so prepare properly with water, sunscreen and early rides. It is worth it.

Entry requirements:

Rides for camp guests only

Facilities:

Chalets and camping facilities, restaurant, ablutions

Beware of:

This is a malaria area

How to get there

Follow the N4 to Mbombela, then take the R40 northwards via Hazyview, Bushbuck Ridge and Klaserie to Hoedspruit. Continue on the R40 to Mica, splitting right to Phalaborwa Gate. Once in the park, follow the signs to Olifants Camp.

Where to goTrail Info

Grading: Easy, Intermediate, Difficult

Duration: Depends on route chosen

Configuration: Circular

Start point: Olifants Camp

Coordinates: S24°00’20.1″; E31°44’24.8″

Terrain: Gravel roads and game tracks

Map: Maps available at entry gates; all tours are guided

Cell Reception: Yes, in most of the park

Lindani

Where to goWith some of the best riding in the Waterberg, Lindani offers some mild game-spotting opportunities too, as well as birds galore. The trails are fairly technical, and it will be hot, so experience and preparing properly are key in the summer months.

Entry requirements:

Free for lodge guests; day visitors pay a fee

Facilities:

Various accommodation options on site; toilets and showers (when Maroela Camp or Molope Campsite are not occupied); picnic sites

Beware of:

Game (no big five), snakes and the odd drop-off

More information:

Vaalwater is your final stop for fuel, fresh produce and ice

How to get there

From Vaalwater, take Melkrivier Road; after 37km, the entrance to Lindani is on your right. From Mokopane, follow the signs to Marken and then Vaalwater. The Lindani entrance is on the left, 7km after the Melkrivier Winkel.

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Easy to Difficult

Duration: Up to 6 hours

Configuration: Various circular options; up to 70km

Start Point: Farm office

Coordinates: S24°03’23.5″; E28°22’08.2″

Terrain: Singletrack, firm surfaces with patches of rock and sand, good gravel and 4×4 roads

Map: Map of singletrack and jeep tracks with contours and profiles available on website and at the office

Cell Reception: Intermittent

Free State

Gariep Dam Forever Resort

Relatively non-technical trails are rewarded with the peace and quiet – and scenery – that all holidays need. The blesbok, gemsbok, eland, wildebeest and springbok are always up for a race, if you feel the urge.

Entry requirements:

Entry fee payable

Facilities:

Ablutions at gate but no facilities along the route

Beware of:

Aardvark holes in unexpected spots

How to get there

Travel north along the N1 past Colesberg, and look for the turn-off onto the Lake Gariep Tourist Route around 15km later. Follow the signs into Gariep Dam town; the turn-off to the Forever Resort is on your left, less than 1km later.

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Easy

Duration: 1-4 hours

Configuration: Various options

Start point: Forever Resort

Coordinates: S30°35’48.4″; E25°30’07.8″

Terrain: Gravel roads, jeep track, singletrack, savanna plains and low koppies

Map: Available at Forever Resort

Cell reception: Intermittent

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Where to goCrack off some altitude training in this hidden gem. Smooth roads dominate here, and we almost didn’t include it, but in the Clarens area are some slick trails and a fair amount of Moabesque slick-rock riding that will tick most riders’ boxes, and you will come back fit and as strong as a goat.

Entry requirements:

Regular park fees payable

Facilities:

Full range of amenities at Golden Gate and in Clarens

Beware of:

Wild animals roam freely in the park, so please be vigilant on the roads. Also, sudden mists roll in across the mountains very quickly.

How to get there

From Johannesburg or Durban, follow the N3 to Harrismith, then continue onto the N5 (Bethlehem) until you get to the left turn onto the R712. Travel towards Phuthaditjhaba, but bypass it until you enter the Golden Gate Highlands National Park at the checkpoint. All camps and the Golden Gate Hotel are clearly signposted along this route.

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Easy

Duration: About 2-3 hours in the saddle (49.8km)

Configuration: An out-and-back ride with two loop options into the park

Start point: In Clarens or at park entrance

Coordinates: S28°30’12.0″; E28°36’33.0″

Terrain: Tarmac; dirt roads outside park in QwaQwa area

Map: Available at park reception

Cell reception: Full reception

North West

Berakah

Cruise the Vredefort Dome along a network of technical, rocky trails and paths that double as a quad adventure. Bring your bike-handling A-game, and some fitness, but the rewards for pushing your boundaries in both are some exceptional views.

Entry requirements:

Entry fee payable

Facilities:

Toilets at start; there is a beautiful camp on top of the mountain where there is a watering point

Beware of:

Summer heat; thorns; snakes

How to get there

Follow the N12 from Johannesburg to Potchefstroom, and then turn south to Venterskroon. Look out for the Berakah Adventures signs and follow these along a dirt road to the Adventure Camp gate. Continue on the dirt road for +2km to the Berakah Adventures signs and follow these.

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Intermediate to Difficult (rugged, stony climbs)

Duration: Depends on your choice of route

Cconfiguration: 12-23km circular routes

Start Point: Berakah Camp

Coordinates: S26°49’25.0″; E27°22’20.0″

Terrain: Steep, rock-strewn jeep tracks, dongas, log bridges

Map: Trail maps available at Berakah reception

Cell reception: Good cellphone reception

Van Gaalen Cheese Farm

Where to goA hop and a skip from Jozi for the home-bound, the trails here are continually updated and improved, so even if you went last week, go again just in case you missed something.

Entry requirements:

Purchase a day permit and sign the indemnity form at the farm

Facilities:

Restaurant and ablutions at start, picnic spots, accommodation

Beware of:

Look out for horses on trails, and stop until they pass you

More information:

Access limited or closed during events

How to get there

Van Gaalen Cheese Farm is situated just off the R560, about 3km north of Skeerpoort.

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Intermediate to Extreme

Duration: Various

Configuration: Up to 100km of trails

Start Point: Van Gaalen Restaurant

Coordinates: S25°47’16.3″; E27°46’19.6″

Terrain: Singletrack, jeep track and horse trails

Map: Available from the trail guide/farm office

Cell reception: Yes

Western cape

Tokai

Big city riding at its best. Yes, the drive out to Jonkershoek will offer better trails and a more complete riding experience if you have the time (or are based in the Winelands), but Tokai is 20 minutes from most of the Cape Town holiday spots, and the views across Hout Bay, the Cape Flats, the Back Table and even all the way to Cape Point are special. And you earn the joy, climbing nearly a kilometre if you do the full mast trip.

Entry requirements:

Fee payable at picnic area; a Wild Card from SANParks must be loaded with an annual MTB permit

Facilities:

Parking, with a car guard on duty; tea room and toilet facilities

Beware of:

Slippery during/ after rains; baboons,snakes and hikers

More information:

Gravel road cruising to extreme, technical downhills, and everything in-between; the singletracks consist of fairly compacted dirt trails and sections of rocks and tree roots

How to get there

From Cape Town, follow the M3 for 25km towards Muizenberg, then turn left onto the off-ramp to Tokai, passing right under the highway. Continue for 2km pasta traffic circle and turn left at Tokai Manor towards the Arboretum.

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Moderate to extreme

Duration: 2-5 hours

Configuration: Various circular or return options, up to 40km

Start Point: Arboretum, Tokai Forest

Coordinates: 34°03’394″S, 18°24’582″E

Terrain: Gravel road, jeep track and singletrack

Map: Available from SAFCOL Office, picnic area

Cell Reception: Signal along most of ride

Harkerville

Where to goThe Holy Grail of mountain-bike trails in South Africa, the Red Route at Harkerville started it all. We have been riding it since the late 80s, and after 40 or more laps, it is still breathtaking, every single time. If you don’t find yourself stopping at the cliff-top bench to soak in the view, ride it again until you do: the de-stress isn’t working yet.

Entry requirements:

Permit from Garden of Eden or Knysna Cycle Works

Facilities:

Ablution facilities; fairly secure parking

Beware of:

Super-slippery roots and bridges; trees across route

More information:

Knysna Cycle Works, tel; +27 44 382 5153; Mountain Biking Africa, tel: +27 82 783 8392

How to get there

Harkerville is on the N2 freeway, 20km past Knysna en route to Plettenberg Bay. All routes may be started on the N2 opposite the Garden of Eden DWAF kiosk (where you pick up your permit) or from the Harkerville Forestry Office at the Kranshoek Road Gate.

Trail Info

Where to goGrading: Easy to advanced

Duration: 1-4 hours

Configuration: Circular – 12-27km

Start Point: Garden of Eden kiosk

Coordinates: 34°2’4.21″S, 23°11’53.17″E

Terrain: Gravel road and lots of singletrack

Map: With permit; route marked (four colour- coded options)

Cell Reception: Good coverage

Homtini

So Knysna gets two mentions, deservedly. Homtini offers a few hours of complete peace and quiet, in indigenous forests, on old logging paths and forestry roads. Not as technically perfect as the Red Route, but to many the greater MTB experience.

Entry requirements:

Purchase permit at Goudveld Forest Station entrance

Facilities:

Ablution facilities at start; fairly secure parking

Beware of:

Bush pig poop; singletrack overdose on home run

More information:

For local MTB info, contact Mountain Biking Africa, tel: +27 82 783 8392

How to get there

Travel east along the N2 towards Knysna and, 10km before reaching the town, turn left in the direction of Rheenendal. Drive along the tar road for about 15km before turning right towards the Goudveld/ Millwood/Jubilee Creek Forest Station. Drive for 2km to an entrance boom to buy your permit, then continue for a further 2km to the Krisjan-se-Nek picnic site where the trail starts.

Where to goTrail Info

Grading: Intermediate

Duration: 90 minutes

Configuration: Circular- 19km

Start Point: Krisjan-se-Nek picnic site

Coordinates: 33°55’42.25″S, 22°56’47.98″E

Terrain: Gravel road, jeep track and sizzling singletrack

Map: Available at Goudveld; route marked every 1km

Cell Reception: Good coverage

Hemel En Aarde

Hermanus is chaos over the holidays, but relief from the madding crowd – if you are marooned there anyway – is a short singletrack away. The network of routes is ever-expanding – and well-maintained – and part of it forms the final fun flurry on the annual Wines2Whales events.

Entry requirements:

Fee payable

Facilities:

Bicycle shop, toilets, restaurants at start

Beware of:

Slippery tree roots in winter along forest sections

How to get there

As you enter the outskirts of Hermanus on the R43 from Cape Town, take a left at the Sandbaai/ Caledon intersection. The Hemel en Aarde village is on your left. Register and pay at either Euodia Cycles or The Wine Village. There is ample parking.

Where to goTrail Info

Grading: Moderate to difficult

Duration: From 30 minutes to 5 hours

Configuration: Circular or return options

Start Point: Euodia Cycles, Hemel en Aarde village, Hermanus

Coordinates: 34°24’44.02″S, 19°12’4.07″E

Terrain: Farm roads, jeep tracks, singletrack

Map: From Wine Village or Euodia Cycles

Cell Reception: Good

Eastern Cape

Swartberg Pass/ Die Hel

Where to goChoose between just riding the Pass both ways – 40 kilometres each way across a not-insignificant mountain range, and back again, the closest to Alpine climbing you will find in the Cape – or go manly and drop into Die Hel, and absorb the unique history of this forgotten valley. The latter is a very big ride – not skills-wise, but you need to be really fit. Most choose to make it a two-day trip.

Entry Requirements:

Public road

Facilities:

Accommodation, restaurants, shops in Prince Albert

Beware of:

Extreme heat in summer; freezing cold in winter

More information:

For local MTB info, contact Ecobound MTB Adventures, tel: +27 44 871 4455

How to get there

Prince Albert is on the R407, 46km towards Oudtshoorn from the N1.

Where to goTrail Info

Grading: Intermediate to Extreme

Duration: 3-5 hours

Configuration: 57km each way

Start Point: Prince Albert

Coordinates: 33°13’31.7″S,22o01’47.2″E

Terrain: Some tarmac; gravel

Map: Available from Prince Albert Tourism

Cell Reception: Intermittent

Away with the fairies – Hogsback

Where to goLet’s get the Tolkien thing over with – the great writer had never visited this gobsmackingly beautiful area when he penned The Hobbit. Which does not sit well with how Hobbitty the place is. The trails are gorgeous, cool and foresty (mainly) and the atmosphere and hospitality typically Eastern-Cape: friendly and inclusive for all your off-the-bike activities. Enjoy the tranquillity.

Entry Requirements:

Permit from Away with the Fairies Backpackers

Facilities:

The village has a full range of accommodation options

Beware of:

Extreme tree roots into Arboretum (may have been fixed)

More information:

For local MTB information, contact Dan Cornick, tel: +27 72 668 0602

How to get there

Turn off the N2 onto the R63, then take the R345 to Hogsback. ‘Away with the Fairies’ Backpackers is signposted down Hydrangea Lane – ask any local for directions.

Where to goTrail Info

Grading: Intermediate (some technical sections)

Duration: 2 hours

Configuration: Circular (17km); various other permutations

Start Point: Arminel Hotel (guided rides from Away with the Fairies)

Coordinates: 32°36’105″S,26o56’455″E

Terrain: Gravel road, jeep track and superb singletrack

Map: From Away with the Fairies Backpackers

Cell Reception: Good coverage

Tsitsikamma

The Cape coast at its best – raging, beautiful and rugged. The riding is a mix of fun trails and plenty of chatty forestry roads, with plenty to do off the bike if you are an adventure junkie.

Entry requirements:

Free self-issue permits available at gate for first section; permit for SAPPI section from Storms River Adventures

Facilities:

Ablution facilities; parking at Tsitsikamma State Forest, Storms River office or Tsitsikamma Forest Inn

Beware of:

Forestry vehicles, hikers; on the descent down the pass, beware of water humps across the road – they may not be high, but are steep enough to launch you

More information:

Amazing forest and coastal views

How to get there

Start and finish at Tsitsikamma State Forest Storms River office in Storms River Village (not to be confused with Storms River Mouth). From the N2, turn off to Storms River Village (154km from PE and 75km from Plett). Follow this road into the village, turn left at the stop street, pass the Tsitsikamma Forest Inn, and you’ll see the office on your right.

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Intermediate

Duration: 2-3 hours

Configuration: 22-55km circular

Start Point: Start at Tsitsikamma State Forest office or at Tsitsikamma Forest Inn in Storms River Village

Coordinates: 33°58’26.6″S,23°53’14.7″E

Terrain: Gravel roads and plantation jeep track, river crossings

Map: Available at the Storms River office

Cell reception: Good

Woodridge and Thornhill
Where to go
Woodridge Route

Based in the Longmore Forest Reserve, there is a fine mix of technical and fun trails. Just south of Port Elizabeth on the N2, you can also pop on a bit further and look for the new Jeffreys Bay trail network, but for now these two will guarantee a few days of fun riding.

Entry Requirements:

Permit available from Cyclo Pro

Facilities:

Ablutions and water at Van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve

Beware of:

Some challenging rock gardens, slippery when wet

How to get there

Woodridge is just off the N2, approximately 35km from Port Elizabeth on your way to Cape Town. Carry on for another 5-6km along the N2 to reach Thornhill on your right next to the highway.

Where to go
Thornhill Route
Trail Info

Grading: Easy to very technical

Duration: 45 minutes

Configuration: 8km circular loop

Start Point: Woodridge School

Coordinates: 33°55’02.6″S, 25°12’17.0″E

Terrain: Singletrack, rocky sections

Map: From Cydo Pro or school

Cell reception: Good

Northern Cape

Goegap

Head out into the desert, just east of Springbok, and enjoy the crunch of wheels on gravel: there are no other sounds. Peace, quiet and a gentle mix of jeeptrack, gravel roads, with a few slick-rock bumps as you hit the only big climb, make this a must-ride in our books.

Entry Requirements:

An entrance fee is payable at the gate and an additional rate is levied per rider

Facilities:

Self-catering cottages, safe parking within the reserve, and ablutions

Beware of:

Extreme temperatures

More Information:

Moderate to difficult ride, with the terrain and surface adding to the difficulty level; take care – desert ecosystems are extremely fragile and careless actions may upset their delicate balance

How to get there

The Goegap Nature Reserve is situated 15km east of Springbok; to get there, head towards the airport along the R355 until you see the reserve signage indicating the turn-off to the gate.

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Moderate to Difficult

Duration: 2-3 hours

Configuration: Circular 22km ride, plus various other gravel road options

Start Point: Reserve office

Coordinates: 29°39’56.4″S, 17°59’51.7″E

Terrain: Semi-desert, sand and some rocky sections

Map: Available from the office at Goegap Nature Reserve

Cell Reception: No coverage

Marrick

Where to goSlap-bang in the middle of SA lies Kimberley, famous for the Big Hole, and Marrick Safari’s marvellous trails. The area seems flat, but come prepared for never-ending rollers and tough terrain, and with plenty of water in summer. Plenty. Of. Water.

Entry requirements:

Day visitor fee applies to riders; no fees for Marrick guests

Facilities:

Guesthouse, self-catering cottages, ablutions

Beware of:

Heat and thunderstorms in summer

More information:

A variety of terrain, fun for all levels, plus good game viewing

How to get there

From Kimberley, head west along the R357 towards Douglas for approximately 14km until you reach the turn-off to Marrick Safari. From the Barkly West crossing (on the road from Kimberley) the turn-off is 10km away.

Where to goTrail info

Grading: Intermediate

Duration: 1-5 hours

Configuration: Options from 5km to a 40km circular ride

Start Point: Marrick Safaris reception

Coordinates: 28°46’40.3″S,24<36’40.1″E

Terrain: Flat and sandy paths with hills and koppies

Map: A trail map, including distances, available from Marrick Safari

Cell reception: Reasonable coverage

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