Configuration: Various options, 12 to 25km Trailhead: Olifants Rest Camp General Information: Gravel park roads, rangers’ jeep tracks and game paths. Suitable for children over the age of 16. Winter is your best bet as summers can get very hot.
The Kruger National Park introduced guided mountain-bike rides in September 2003. On a bicycle, you can cover much greater distances than on foot and access parts of the reserve that are rarely seen. Three return routes of different lengths are on offer.
The 21,4-kilometre Hardekool Draai Ride’s name originated from a huge leadwood tree (Combretum Imberbi) that grows on the banks of the nearby Olifants River. This easy return ride is a gentle climb over a slightly rocky ranger’s road, which doubles as a firebreak. The trail leads through mopane veld, with an occasional view of the Olifants River. Anywhere off this track, the ground is carpeted with a huge variety of thorns, hence the emphasis on using the camp’s bikes rather than your own, which leaves the puncture problem in their hands.
The Olifants/Letaba River Confluence Trail (12 kilometres follows the S44 gravel road beyond the Olifants River viewpoint, 10,3 kilometres from camp, to a small unmarked twin-track road that leads to an unforgettable off-road cycling experience. Loose rocks and branches remind you to concentrate on which line to ride. For 6,1 kilometres along the rocky outcrops of the region, you can expect elephant, buffalo, lion, nyala, water buck, giraffe, zebra, klipspringer and impala and plenty of opportunity to marvel at the giant baobab trees (Adasonia digitata) that are common to this area.
Finally, the Klipkoppies Mozambique Border Trail (24,8 kilometres) gives you the opportunity to touch foreign soil, albeit through the fence. Olifants Camp is only 22,2 kilometres from the Mozambican border. Just less than 10 kilometres from the camp on the S44 route past the Olifants River viewpoint, you drive due east across the Letaba River on a firebreak road. In the early morning light, the vehicle is abandoned for bicycles. As you are riding straight into the sunrise of a new day for 9,6 kilometres, the opportunities for chance encounters with game abound. At a fork in the road, the guides will lead you southeast for 2,8 kilometres to the Lebombo Mountains and 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. Put your hand through the fence to touch foreign soil before you cycle down towards the Letaba River, enjoying the wonderful vista of unspoiled wilderness all the way back to the vehicle.
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