Pedalling through nature on a mountain bike has many advantages: it’s fun, healthy, environmentally friendly, and a great way to see the sights. With your Wild Card, you have no excuses to stay home, so get out there and tick a few #wildadventuregoals. By Arnold Ras
#1: Hlane Royal National Park
Hlane’s SunUp Cycle is the perfect way to start a new day in the wilderness. Before breakfast, cycle to Mahlindza Dam where coffee and rusks will be served. The route is flat and sandy, making it ideal for beginner riders who want to explore Swaziland’s bush on a mountain bike. And if you’re not a morning person, the park also offers afternoon cycle trips. Don’t stress about gear – Hlane’s friendly staff will take care of everything.
Contact: [email protected], +268 2528 3943/4
#2: Anysberg Nature Reserve
With three rivers, gorgeous mountain fynbos and the Cape Fold Mountains, Anysberg is a nature treat. Not to mention home to species such as Cape mountain zebra, gemsbok, black-backed jackal, caracal and one of South Africa’s most threatened mammals, the riverine rabbit. Several jeep tracks pave the way for scenic MTB exploration. But don’t tire yourself out – you’ll want to stay up for the spectacular night skies.
Contact: [email protected], +27 (0)21 483 0190
#3: Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve
Grey-crowned cranes, crowned eagles, martial eagles, ground hornbills and secretary birds are but some of the more than 300 bird species you could encounter at Vernon Crookes. The reserve, only one hour’s drive south of Durban, boasts kilometres of MTB trails that meander through coastal grasslands and forest habitats. Exploring here on two wheels is not only good for body and spirit, but also nature: minimal environmental impact and no noise pollution.
Contact: [email protected], +27 (0)33 845 1000
#4: Namaqua National Park
Flower season lasts just a few months, but no matter the time of the year Namaqua remains one of the best spots to mountain bike. SANParks brands this park “a land of contrasts”, and with good reason: cyclists can choose from a variety of terrain to quench their outdoor thirst. Get on the bike and head off into Namaqua’s arid landscapes, or opt for a ride next to the sea. And if you spot a Cape tortoise, remember to send us your snaps. Take note that cycling enthusiasts should bring their own bikes.
Contact: [email protected], +27 (0)12 428 9111
#5: Garden Route National Park
The Garden Route’s Harkerville Forest (in the park’s Knysna Section) has as many as five MTB routes on offer: Yellow Route (13km), Blue Route (11km), Green Route (14km), Red Route (22km) and Graspad (12km). The options vary from easy to difficult and promise lots of different nature scenery – you will even get to experience the Harkerville coastline. The pristine indigenous forests and patches of fynbos offer an unforgettable experience that will seal your return. Obtain your cycling permit from the Diepwalle Office (+27 (0)44 382 9762), Garden of Eden (+27 (0)44 532 7793), or Thesen Island Office (+27 (0)44 302 5600).
Contact: [email protected], +27 (0)44 302 5600