Waterberg Encounter offers bushveld experience

waterberg experience

Waterberg Encounter offers bushveld experience

The Liberty Waterberg Encounter is perfectly poised to provide a wide range of mountain-biking enthusiasts with a memorable weekend getaway near Bela-Bela in Limpopo from June 7 to 9. This three-stage race over 168km, which exposes competitors to exciting bushveld trails, is the final event of the Liberty Encounter Series. It started with the TransCape MTB Encounter in February and continued this past weekend with the Winelands Encounter.

Entries for the Waterberg race close on May 22 and ASG Events chief executive officer Erick Oosthuizen said there is plenty for riders to look forward to in the overall package. “This is a wonderful chance for the whole family to experience a weekend in the bush,” he said.

“The luxury tented accommodation at Elements Private Golf Reserve makes it the perfect chance to escape the city for a few days, with riders being exposed to mountain-bike trails through game farms.

“Once the hard work is done on the bike there is plenty of time to chill at the clubhouse.” Besides Elements, he said accommodation was also available at Sondela Nature Reserve, one of the most popular bush-lodge holiday spots in South Africa. “Sondela offers a variety of accommodation, from four-star self-catering chalets to a caravan park and tent camp.”

Besides the opportunity for a memorable family weekend, Oosthuizen said he felt the race was a perfect opportunity for those in the corporate world to have some fun away from the pressures of business.

“This is a great chance for corporates to experience a relaxed weekend, where they can either enjoy a team-building opportunity within their company or network with their colleagues in a chilled environment. “Luxury tented accommodation packages are available for the Friday and Saturday night at Elements Golf Reserve and all bedding comes with electric blankets for the chilly nights. “The race offers an opportunity for riders to get close to a variety of wildlife without compromising the safety aspect of the competitors.

“This will be followed by fun evenings, with lots of entertainment on offer.” Similar to the Winelands Encounter, the Waterberg offers team and solo categories. Riders can opt for a luxury accommodation package, which includes two nights at Elements Golf Reserve and meals, or the basic package, which excludes accommodation but offers breakfast and lunch.

To enter, go to www.waterbergencounter.co.za

CAPTION: Riders are in line for a memorable getaway when the Liberty Waterberg Encounter mountain-bike race takes place from June 7 to 9 near Bela-Bela in Limpopo. Photo: Gerrie Kriel/Twin Productions SA

The Route

Below is the map for the 2019 Liberty Waterberg Encounter

Stage 1

Sondela – Elements: 62km 800m ascent
So for 2018 we have lots of exciting new developments as we link up Sondela with our new race village at Elements.

As per usual we have handpicked some of Sondela’s best and quickest single track sections which takes the route out of Sondela on the North-Western border and across the N1 freeway.

Then we go past the Lion Camp, through the Humphreys farms adjacent to the tar road. On this section, we are working with a local village and building a road for them which they can use to go into Bella Bella.

We spend 3km on this road before crossing the tar road and then climbing into the Waterberg. The first climb is not too serious on some single track before crossing the Modimole – Bella Bella Road on the plateau.

The route stays on the plateau until it enters the very well-known ATKV resort of Klein Kariba. Some wonderful Klein Kariba hospitality waits at their water point before we tackle their beautifully sculpted single track trails.

There are some technical sections inside Klein Kariba but it’s fun. We will go into the heart of the resort and experience a bit of their hospitality.

Through Klein Kariba the event passes by the famous shop of Tannie Poppie Dinkelman. Then it’s onto Thaba Manzi where riders will spot some beautiful Rhino. We then enter a farm where we weren’t allowed to traverse last year – we’re busy building some wicked single track on the farm.

Now we’re in a valley with some stunning cliff faces on both ends, passing by a few dams before entering Marulani.

The event runs along the northern border of Marulani and climbs to the top of the plateau. The view from the top is amazing and the single-track reward on the other side just as stunning!

The event then passes a natural spring (waterpoint) before entering the old SANDF grounds. We are building various single track sections on the former SANDF grounds You’ll be riding in a ravine and contouring the side of the mountain before entering an imposing orange farm and get the chance to enjoy some of Bela Bela’s famous citrus fruits.

The route then runs past The Shack restaurant (waterpoint) where riders can hydrate in numerous different ways, including a cold beer.

The route then enters the back of Elements. We will be riding some of the newly built single track in Elements and we’ve selected some of the nice rideable singles inside Elements.

Stage 2

Elements – Elements: 51km 1054m ascent

2016 riders will remember Shakana for the cement climb we did. Shakana is also developing some interesting and exciting single track which will serve the race well in 2018.

Once finished inside Shakama we enter back into Elements and speed along some more single track sections back to the Clubhouse.

The stage is characterised by regular ups and downs, but no major signature climbs and all the little ups are followed by some delightful downhill single track rewards. It’s the fun day of the Encounter and it takes place in beautiful surroundings.

We finish back at the Elements Clubhouse where a delicious lunch again awaits.

Stage 3

Elements – Sondela: 59km 920m ascent

The journey back to Sondela is probably the most manageable of all three stages. It’s nice and fast… mostly.

Again, we leave Elements on some of the new single track and the event then heads onto a gravel road for a 3.5km descent before entering Highlands Private Estate.

Beautiful views and beautiful houses await at Highlands and we’ll be climbing right to the top viewing point on the plateau inside the Estate.

We cross over what they refer to as stand no 100, which is right on the edge of the mountain. Then it’s down into Lekkerbreek and past the shooting range next to the dam before turning into Marulani.

At Marulani some wonderful hospitality awaits (as was the case in 2017!).

Out of the gate at Marulani a delightfully quick and long downhill stretch awaits, albeit technical here and there. We’ll then go into Thaba N’thle. We didn’t ride Thaba N’thle last year so it’s some nice and fresh single track that awaits.

There is a little rocky climb halfway through Thaba N’thle but a smooth tar road awaits as a reward on the other side.

The route then links up with Thaba Manzi where some Rhino spotting awaits. The event passes by Tannie Poppie’s shop again, but we’re not taking the same route back to Sondela as used on the first day – it’s only a 1km stretch which we use to access the new stage 3 trail back to Sondela.

After crossing the tar road, the route runs next to the historic Buiskop. Some singles and climbing follow Buiskop before we then access the same trail which took the event back to Sondela in 2016.

Inside Sondela we’ll enjoy 15km of fast single track before finishing at the Farm Yard.