Adventure experiences

Mountain biking in South Africa

MTB heaven! South Africa is a treasure trove of exciting routes, discovered and waiting to be uncovered, with weather allowing for cycling at any time of the year, all day and just about every day.

Around Cape Town there are some great single-track routes on the mountain and in the pine plantations. There are escorted trips on the mountain, around the winelands and in the Cape Point section of the Cape Peninsula National Park.

The scenic De Hoop National Park near Swellendam, up the east coast from Cape Town, has dedicated, easy trails. There are a few hardcore trails near Swellendam, and then onto the Garden Route, which is just fantastic.

There are four superb, laid-out circular tracks in the Harkerville Forest, ranging from mellow to a hectic red route. And nearby are two long, quite strenuous linear trails, Homtini and Petrus se Brand. Locals and international visitors alike agree that the last 6km of Petrus se Brand is the most fun single track ever.

Port Elizabeth also has dedicated trails, including one traversing a green belt which cuts right through the middle of the city. An annual MTB race on the Wild Coast set a precedent for pedaling this fantastic area.

KwaZulu-Natal has its share of routes, with many great ones in the Drakensberg and the Midlands.

Pietermaritzburg, especially, is blessed with superb options. It hosted the opening round of the UCI Nissan Mountain Bike World Cup in April 2009 and will host an MTB World Cup event for another three years after the success of 2009.

The Free State is home to some seriously strenuous trails, and often has competitions. There's one called the Two Mountains Race, which should give you an idea of what you'd be in for.

And Johannesburg has a huge active MTB population, so there are a lot of trails nearby. Many of these urbanites head out to the wonderful trails in Mpumalanga, where you'll find lots of opportunity to get down and dirty.


Active Escapes specialise in providing personalised mountain bike and cycling holidays, to accommodate all level of riders. The offerings range from fully- supported and professionally guided tours to tours in which cyclists are left to themselves, but provided with detailed route information, while logistics, such as accommodation bookings, airport and end-point vehicle transfers are taken care of. Active Escapes offers cycling holidays in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, on the Wild Coast, and in the Drakensberg.

Beach and Bush presents short trails at Oribi Gorge on the KwaZulu- Natal south coast, as well as a tour of Durban, which takes participants to the city's most happening venues.

Bendito Ranch is a game farm with self-catering accommodation, situated in Mkopane (Potgietersrus), a malaria free part of Limpopo, with four scenic mountain bike trails and hiking trails totalling a distance of 60km. Fishing, photography safaris, game drives, birdwatching, hunting (in season) and barbeques and breakfast in the bush are also available.

Bicycling Magazine has sections on mountain biking and, very usefully, on rides. Explore the rides' archive for a nice list of possibilities from around South Africa.

Cape Mountain Biking Tours features a strong team that provides tours in the Eastern and Western Cape, varying in length from one day to the 11 day tour from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town. Places of interest and interesting experiences are included along the way. A two-day self-ride tour of the Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope is also available.

Clearwater Trails, located near Port Edward in Kwazulu-Natal, offer a marvellous mix of terrain and memorable sightseeing with four custom-built and carefully marked MTB trails which have something to suit all levels and tastes with riding on single and double tracks. All the trail options are set against the alluring backdrop of the Indian Ocean with the longer trails passing through Beaver Creek Coffee Estate and Crags View Wild Care Centre before ending at Clearwater Trail Centre.

Cycle Lab is one of South Africa's leading bicycle shops, with in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and Limpopo. The Cycle Lab website offers plenty of information on events. The newsletters'archive is a very useful and wide-ranging source of information.

Day Trippers is based in Cape Town. They offer a nice variety of escorted, vehicle-supported rides, including day tours, which take in the Cape Peninsula, the Winelands, Table Mountain, whale watching at Hermanus, and township tours; extended tours, ranging from five to 150 people, and from five days to 28 days; Epic trippers allows cyclists access to parts of the Cape Epic route, while training rides for the epic itself are on offer. Other destinations avalable include the Cedarberg, the Garden Route and the Karoo.

The Dirtopia website includes a section on the Dirtopia Trail Centre, which is based on Delvera farm (R44 between Stellenbosch & the N1). It was created to provide active travellers with hiking and mountain bike trail information as well as serve as a base for permit sales for a range of trails in the Klapmutskop Conservancy. There is also a section for the Dirtopia MTB Festival, as well as other events.

Downhill Adventures offer sandboarding, kiteboarding, surfing, and mountain biking. The MTB rides include in and around Cape Town, the Winelands, the Tokai Forest, the Table Mountain, and the Cape Point Nature Reserve. There are over 100 bikes for rent, including hi-spec 27-gear Giants.

Drifters offers overland tours in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya, Malawi, Zanzibar, Kenya, and Uganda. They also offer a six-day, five-night hiking and cycling holiday on the Wild Coast, which starts from Port St Johns.

Eastern Cape Mountain Biking is a website that covers the Eastern Cape's mountain bike options impeccably. It features nicely-detailed accounts of many routes, training rides, and many other articles of interest that ensure comprehensive coverage of the region and the sport.

Encounter South Africa offers some suggestions on MTB routes to try around South Africa.

Escape Cycle Tours offers tours throughout South Africa, including in the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site, a six-day pre-Argus Tour, cycling in the Magaliesberg, Lesotho MTB rides, the KZN Midlands Meander route, the Cape Winelands, the Kruger National Park, the Mashatu Cycle Tour, a 12-day tour from Stellenbosch to Port Elizabeth, a tour from Knysna to Gordon's Bay, a three-day Johannesburg to Durban trip, the Lindani tour, the Namaqualand Daisy tour, and Maluti Spring tour, as well as cycling in Soweto, and a combo cycling and surfing tour.

EveryTrail in South Africa includes a nice list of races and routes, which take place throughout South Africa. The website includes a little info on every suggested route and race.

Giba Gorge, near Pinetown in KwaZulu-Natal, offers a number of superb trails for mountain bikers of various skills levels - from easy to expert. There is also a BMX track, free style dirt jumps, a Cyclelab bike shop, a coffee shop, conference centre, bar, and camping facilities.

iRideAfrica offers both mountain bike holidays and road cycling tours. Their "Ride Shuttle" is also available for lifts to top jumps, downhill tracks or bike parks around Cape Town. There are a number of tour options and a Blog to keep up with the latest iRideAfrica happenings.

The Johannesburg Mountain Biking Club does not have a home base, but through contact between its members, rides are undertaken on most Sundays at various locations around the city, with different lengths, difficulty and technical challenges offered. Visitors are welcome to join in JMBC rides at a cost of R20.

Lebanon MTB Trails is located in the heart of the Elgin Valley in the Western Cape, an hour's drive from Cape Town and 30 minutes from Hermanus. There are four well marked trails that meander through some stunning terrain and everyone from beginners to experienced riders is catered for, with the trails ranging from 5.8km to 25km in distance. Accommodation is available at Oak Lane Cottages, where the trails start and end.

Linx Africa: Mountain Bike Trails in South Africa features a list of towns that have MTB trails. Click on a town and you're taken to a description of trails in the area, with telephone, fax, and e-mail info for enquiries and bookings.

Live2Ride offers rentals, trails, and guided tours. They operate in the Western Cape and visit among others, Langebaan, Fossil Park, Saldanha, Koringsberg, and Aurora. Tours include the West Coast Tour, the Garden Route Tour, and the Odyssey Tour, which takes place in Botswana.

Makadas Adventures is a mountain bike event company based in the Western Cape. It offers challenging mountain bike events, mostly in the Klein Karoo area. The company's stated goal is to bring back the fun and adventure to mountain biking, which it does by featuring a wide variety of events - from extreme to simple fun events. Their trails vary from year to year to keep things interesting and new routes are added as farmers open up their trails.

Mankele Mountain Biking is located right in the heart of Mpumalanga and features tropical forests, open grass lands, rivers, dams, ravines, mountains and breathtaking views. It's a superb venue for riders of all abilities, with numerous trails of varying lengths and technical tests. It also offers accommodation as well as other exciting activities.

Mountain Biking Africa operates on the beautiful Garden Route. They offer from half- to 13-day tours. These include three different Outeniqua Mountain tours; the Ostrich Tour; the Knysna Experience; Steady Eddie's Mountain Madness, which was originally designed as a Cape Epic training camp; Steady Eddie's Buffalo Hills, a slightly easier version of Mountain Madness; and a 13-day tour of Botswana. Bikes are available for hire.

Mountain Biking South Africa offer tailor-made mountain trips - with budgetary options of basic, medium, or exclusive - in the Eastern and Western Cape where there are countless breaktaking (literally and figuratively) routes to be explored. They operate out of the beautiful Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route.

MTBiker is loaded with a wide variety of information, including on tracks all around the country, which are submitted by mountain bikers themselves. There is also a forum, a blog, events calendar, classifieds, general news and news on equipment.

MTB Online features information on trails, races, clubs, shops, products, and holidays. There are reviews and information about maintenance, riding skills, and news. Trails may also be searched by province and links to cycling-related blogs are provided.

MTBSA.CO.ZA features a race calendar; a list of MTB clubs; info on trails, which is available by clicking on towns, and other fun stuff.

MTBROUTES.CO.ZA lists routes in the different provinces, with an overview, fast facts about each route, and the level of difficulty. It also lists events and has articles on other adventure sports too.

The Oak Valley Mountain Biking Experience, located on the Oak Valley Wine Estate, offers three mountain bike routes, including the 14-kilometre Green Route for the family, a 21-kilometre Red Route for stronger riders, and the 25- kilometre Black Route for more advanced riders. The scenery is outstanding and the routes include a lot of singletrack.

Olifants Camp - Kruger National Park trails are offered in the north of the world famous game reserve. Up to six people at a time can be accommodated , with two qualified and armed field guides leading the way. The Olifants Camp supplies mountain bikes, backpacks, water bottles, helmets and snacks. Three trail options are available.

Outeniqua Biking Trails offer tailor-made tours and trails, ranging from half-a-day to multi-day tours on the picturesque Garden Route. Bikes are also available for hire. Groups of from four to six people, aged 18 to 55 years, are the norm. All guides are SATOUR registered and experienced cyclists.

Paarl MTB presents rides in Franschoek and its surrounds. There are 24 choices of routes, ranging from 19 kilometres in length to 134 kilometres. Extensive information on each route is available, including maps and gradients.

The Pedal Power Association is the largest cycling association in South Africa and includes over 16 000 paid members. Its website offers a section on mountain biking that includes news, a calendar, and a number of routes in the Western Cape, which is where the Pedal Power Association has its offices.

The is South Africa's leading cycling forum. It is always busy with many visitors and it's a place where social cyclists are able to interact with the country's top pros. It's also the place to go for breaking news in South African cycling.

The Cycle Travel Company is located in Johannesburg and is proudly affiliated with South African Tour de France cyclist Robbir Hunter. They offer tours not only throughout South Africa, but throughout the world. Both mountain bikers and road cyclists are catered for. In addition, multi sport tour options, including horse riding and golf, are offered.

Treadmag is a magazine that focuses exclusively on mountain biking, delivering content that is relevant to South Africa, as well as being entertaining and informative. Find out where to get it under the list of stockists on the website.

Xcape Biking Tours provides guided one-day or multi-day cycle trips for MTB, downhill and road cyclists of reasonable fitness. They arrange travel, accomodation, meals and onwards journeys. They also host training camps.

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Mountain biking in South Africa

Experiencing the full variety of South Africa's extraordinary landscapes by mountain bike (Photo: Freedom Challenge)

South Africa's MTB challenges are varied and exciting biking, bikes, bicycles, South, Africa, adventure, trail, trails, mountain

South Africa's mountain biking challenges are varied and exciting, with terrain of all types, to suit the requirements of any enthusiast

Muddy action during the Subaru Sani2C MTB race cycling, cycle, mountain, biking, mtb, sani, 2c, sani2c, south, africa, trails, routes

Mud and mountain biking go hand-in-hand, as can be seen from this image captured during the 2007 Subaru Sani2c (Photo: Subaru Sani2c)

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