Addo Cycle Charge 2020 is a six-day MTB ride through the wild landscapes of Addo Elephant National Park. From 24 to 30 May 2020 mountain bikers will get to explore the park’s remote reaches and enjoy wildlife sightings from the saddle. Here’s what you need to take part.

For nature lovers and outdoor adventurers, Addo Cycle Charge 2020 dishes up a unique combination of rollicking MTB riding and wildlife safari. It promises six days traversing Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa’s third largest national park. Can you picture yourself riding through unspoilt Eastern Cape landscapes while keeping an eye out for game? If this sounds like your type of exploit, read on to discover six things you need to take part.

Panoramic views await for riders on the Addo Cycle Charge 2020.

A sturdy mountain bike

This adventure calls for a proper mountain bike capable of handling rarely travelled jeep track. The organisers recommend that you fit your bike with tubeless tyres to better cope with the terrain, which includes fine gravel, firm sand and some clay. Not a mountain biker? You can explore similar areas of the park on horseback trails from Nyathi Rest Camp or on the Kabouga 4×4 Route.

A sense of adventure

If you always find yourself tempted by park roads with no entry signs, this is your opportunity. Addo Cycle Charge explores areas of Addo Elephant National Park that are normally out of bounds for the public. The ride starts at Darlington Dam in the far northwest of Addo, where two days are spent exploring the terrain on either side of the dam. The next day the Cycle Charge heads into the valleys of the Zuurberg Mountains before cyclists are transferred to Nyathi. This section is known for its abundance of game and will be the setting for the remaining three days.

The sun sets over Darlington Dam, the setting for three days of the MTB ride.

A sharp pair of eyes

Because mountain bikes are a lot quieter and less intrusive than cars, riders on Addo Cycle Charge may get close to game, both big and small. You’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for animals like elephant, buffalo, hyena, kudu and warthog. Special Addo birding ticks include dark-backed weaver and Narina trogon. Since Addo Cycle Charge makes its way through Big Five territory, the group is accompanied by an armed ranger. For this reason the ride is also not recommended for beginner cyclists.

A healthy set of lungs

The route winds through mountainous areas of the park, so you need a healthy set of bellows to power your way up the inclines. According to organiser Clive Gibson, routes three and four in particular will challenge riders. “There are some serious climbs and downhills on these days.” That said, Addo Cycle Charge is a ride, not a race. The pace is not punishing and the focus is on taking in the scenery and looking out for animals.

The focus for the ride is on appreciating the environment and there are rest stops to take in the views.

A keen interest in the natural world and history

This MTB adventure is a wildlife safari on two wheels. Aside from spending the time game viewing and listening for birds, you’ll have the chance to learn more about Addo’s past as the ride takes in sites from the Anglo-Boer War. In the evenings, expert speakers will give informal talks on a wide variety of topics, including park history and geology. Provided skies are clear, one night will be devoted to stargazing. A highlight will be a guided night drive in the Nyathi Section.

A giving heart

Yes, it’s a multi-day MTB ride, but it’s also an opportunity to support conservation. Addo Cycle Charge is organised as a fundraising initiative of the SANParks Honorary Rangers. These passionate volunteers freely donate their time so that all the funds raised by events such as this get ploughed back into the national parks. Money raised through the Cycle Charge will go towards improving facilities in Addo. Already the SANParks Honorary Rangers have set up three new restroom points.

Riders will stay in specially erected tented camps, with charging and bike cleaning stations provided.

Need to know about Addo Cycle Charge 2020

Date: 24-30 May 2020 – check-in from 14:00 on 24 May
Price: R12,500 per person
What’s included: Tented accommodation, all meals, refreshments, medical back-up and a goody bag.
Availability: Just 20 riders can take part – places are booking up fast.
Contact: For more information or bookings, contact Clive Gibson 084 200 4083 or [email protected]