Gariep Dam Forever Resorts MTB Trail

Fantastical, fearless, free-ranging and fast – that is what you can expect when you bang onto this route from the Gariep Forever Resort. Navigate the first 1.5km to the resort gate and continue right onto the town main road before turning right again (2.5km) at the sign board to Gariep Dam Nature Reserve. Blitz the 2km through the friendly local township to the reserve gate (4.5km) and kiss the tarmac goodbye.

You pay your dues – R15 at the reserve office – 3km later; continue along the good quality gravel road for another 500m, then keep left into the Game Viewing Area (8.5km). There’s a fair bit of up and down through the kopjes and I decided to ride the game drive loop in a clock-wise direction, against the flow of vehicle traffic. (This is irrelevant, really, as the chances are you won’t see any vehicles for the duration of your ride).

Be that as it may, I cranked at speed into the kopjes, keeping pace with a galloping herd of mountain zebra, then turned left up to the view point (10.5km). An easy climb takes you to a viewpoint (12.2km) with a 270 degree panorama across the dam, and the added bonus of an ass-tingling blast back to the game drive loop (13.7km).

The fun now starts in all earnest along the mini-Serengeti plains, with herds of blesbok, zebra, wildebeest, eland and springbuck dicing you at break-neck speed as you cavort along the dual-track. At 15.6km, you have the option of extending your ride by around 20km by keeping left onto dual-track dog-legging to the main tarmac strip … your call).

Or stick with the laid-back vibe and keep right, cranking at pace as you loop around back towards the water’s edge. A dual-track slipping off to the left (21.2km) takes you onto the shoreline for 2kays, with a dash of off-track route-finding thrown in for good measure. It is about now where you should keep out an eye for the fish eagles, and mutter to yourself how fucking amazing this lake actually is, and how stunning it is that there are no people crapping in the water like you have at Lake Malawi.

Pick up the track again at 23.5km to link up with the main loop 500m later, and klap it hard till you reach the gate once more (26.1km). Keep your average up at around 20km/hr as you smash the last 7km home for a 33.4km of total cruise time, or otherwise do the loop again. I know I would.

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