Mountain Bike Trails
A recent innovation in the Kruger is the introduction of guided Mountain Bike trails. All currently depart from Olifants Rest Camp, and there is a choice of either half- or full- day trips.
Places are limited to 6 participants per trail and, as with all Kruger activities, reservations should be made well in advance.
Two qualified and armed field guides lead the trails. Three routes are available, graded according to difficulty and technicality from green (moderate length and terrain) to black (very technical and strenuous). The recommended trail for beginners and less experienced riders is the Hardekool Draai trail (green rating).
A fair level of skill and fitness is required for all the Mountain Bike Trails, especially the Border Trail (full day trail, extended to the Gorge).
Should participants want to utilise their own personal Mountain Bikes, proof of a recent service by an accredited Bicycle Shop will have to be supplied. The participants will then be required to take their own equipment i.e. puncture repair kits, tools, spares, tubes etc. Otherwise Olifants Camp will supply the mountain bikes, along with backpacks, water bottles, bicycle helmets and snacks.
The Hardekool-Draai trail
Travel with your guide in an open game viewing vehicle in a westerly direction on the main road (H1-5) for 12km. The Mountain Bike Trail starts at Hardekool-Draai, on the banks of the Olifants River. This is a long trail and a certain degree of fitness is necessary.
The trail leads through Mopane veld, with the occasional view of the Olifants River. There are many wild high ways crossing the road. These high ways are game paths, constantly used by Hippo and other general game, walking to and from the river. After about 5km cycle, it is time to walk a game path.
The bikes are left and a short walk down to the river will have any wildlife enthusiast excited. Remember to wear comfortable walking shoes, a pair of binoculars and your bird reference book in your daypack. The guides are armed and have excellent knowledge of the area's fauna and flora. The Mountain Bike Trail continues over rocky terrain, superb for mountain biking for a further 6km where a small Hippo path turns to the south, towards the Olifants River.
Enjoy sumptuous snacks under a huge Sycamore Fig tree, overlooking grunting Hippo wallowing in the Olifants River below. There are plenty of Crocodile, Elephant, Buffalo and general game in this area. The bird life along the river is also outstanding. Return the 10,7km back to the game drive vehicle and remember the unspoiled wilderness encountered by foot and mountain bike. The total distance cycled on this is 21.4km.
The confluence of the letaba and olifants
The second trail is the Olifants-Letaba River Confluence Mountain Bike Trail. Drive by guided game viewing vehicle from Olifants Camp to the Vutamolelo road, north-east of Olifants Camp, accessible only to those participating in this unique activity.
On the S44 gravel road along the Olifants River, beyond the Olifants River view point, a small unmarked 2-track road 10.3km (6.4 miles) from camp, leads to what must be among the ultimate Mountain Bike Trails in the world. The vehicle is left here and the bikes are saddled. This route passes the best scenery in the Kruger National Park. You cycle between the Letaba River on your left and the Olifants River on your right.
For 6.1km (3.7 miles) along the rocky outcrops of the region, one can expect Elephant, Buffalo, Lion, Nyala, Water Buck, Giraffe, Zebra, Klipspringer and Impala to name a few species of mammals. The area is rich in bird life and will also have any botanist enthusiastic (large Baobab trees, Adasonia digitata are en route).
Enjoy your breakfast packs on the banks of these 2 rivers while watching the crocodile feasting on fish in the rapids below. The melodious call of the Fish Eagle combines with the occasional snorting and grunting of Hippo to make this a unique bush experience.
Enjoy an hour or 2 with your armed guides along the rivers on short walks before you start the 6km cycle back to the game drive vehicle. The trip is not a race and not strenuous taking into account the time frame. It is advisable to be an experienced rider if you want to enjoy this trail to its full potential (grading = black). This trail is 12.2km in length.
Klipkoppies and the Mozambique border
The third Mountain Bike Trail is the longest currently on offer from Olifants Camp. It includes a visit to the Mozambican border, only 22km (13.8 miles) from the camp.
You will be taken around 9.8km from the camp in a northern direction on the S44 route, past the Olifants River viewpoint, to the start of the Klipkoppies Mozambique Border Trail.
An early morning cycle is straight into the sunrise, covering 10km of fantastic Kruger scenery.
Game encountered along the Mountain Bike Trail can include Buffalo, Water Buck, Zebra, Elephant, Kudu and Impala and many more. At a fork in the road, the guides will lead you southeast for 3km to the border between South Africa and Mozambique.
Enjoy your snacks on a hill, overlooking the Olifants River in the distance with Mozambique to the east. Be daring and put your hand through the fence to touch foreign soil before you take the trail back to the vehicle. Cycle down towards the Letaba River, enjoying the wonderful vista of unspoiled wilderness.
The total trail distance is 24.8km.
- Kruger2Canyons.com news has "Cycling the Transfrontier Park"