Southern Free State

Seven Dams Conservancy MTB Route

CLOSEST TOWN > Bloemfontein/Westdene

TRAIL DESTINATION > Seven Dams Conservancy

DISTANCE > From 5 to 10km

GRADING > Easy

OVERVIEW

Explore the urban edge of this ‘City of Roses’, and you will discover a mountain biking and trail running paradise within the Seven Dams Conservancy. This 86ha reserve boasts four distinctive habitats, from woody shrub, grassland and wetlands to unique Bloemfontein Karroid shrub land. The veld, dams and kopjes are home to a range of smaller mammals and 120 species of birds, as well as some interesting archaeological sites.

A network of jeep tracks and rocky single-tracks, as well as short forest footpaths on the adjoining property, will blast you from flat gravel cruises to technical cranking along rugged terrain. There are two main loops within the conservancy, and you can link onto more trails along a daredevil dash across a narrow concrete dam wall bisecting one of the watercourses.

On your bike

Happy Valley: Hemmed in by the Bloemfontein suburbs of Basewater and Westdene, Happy Valley is a small pocket of nature dominated by a rocky koppie characteristic of the Bloemfontein area. Cross country lap races are consistently held here so expect to ride a technical 5km singletrack circuit which will test your mettle in the skills department.

Seven Dams Conservancy: This natural asset is bordered by the upmarket northern suburbs of Helicon Heights, Pentagon Park and Dan Pienaar. Dare one another to ride over a narrow concrete dam wall across one of the watercourses. Keep your eyes on the trail or it’s a dry freefall on one side or a swim on the other. There are a few singletracks with a choice between either rocks or long grass or both, depending on the season. Riders who wish to extend their playtime can get some airtime along the motocross track which is accessed from here via the nearby Gladstone Road, north of Bayswater.

Off the bike

Just relax and walk the dog or enjoy some trail running, hiking and birding. 

CONTACT:

Route information: Hannes van Tonder, Cyclo Tech

Address: Shop 48A, Noordstad, Eeufees Road, Basewater

Telephone: +27 (0)51 433 4968

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Website: 7dams.co.za

Route Information: Seven Dams Conservancy

Cell: +27 (0)73 5476 951

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

GPS: 29° 04.29.2’ South / 26° 13.03.9 ’East 

 

FAST FACTS

GRADING:

Easy

DURATION:

From 1 - 2 Hours

CONFIGURATION :

Two self guided circular routes of 5 to 10km

START POINT:

Happy Valley, 7 Dams Conservancy (See GPS)

TERRAIN:

Single track, rocky, long grass

MAP:

Obtain Map Studio's city map of Bloemfontein

CELL RECEPTION:

Good

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Public access

FACILITIES:

Picnic facilities

BEWARE OF:

Be vigilant in open areas where there is public access.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

Drive down 1st Ave in a north-westerly direction, passing the Bloemfontein Waterfront. Continue on the road and turn right at the traffic light past the build up area. You will be heading towards Happy Valley Hill

BEST TIME OF YEAR

Winter is freezing, but dry while summer brings towering thunderclouds and temperatures around 32°C.

 

Gariep Dam Forever Resorts MTB Trail

CLOSEST TOWN > Venterstad

TRAIL DESTINATION > Gariep Nature Reserve

DISTANCE > Various

 

GRADING > Easy

Gariep01

OVERVIEW

Ever wished you could visit the glorious Lake Malawi, and listen to the call of fish eagles as you circumnavigate the sandy shores? Or maybe set off onto the plains of Serengeti, to range free in the company of herds of plains game? Well, you can, and you can do it on your bike, at a budget that will leave enough change to upgrade your bike. I’m talking the Gariep Dam here, and cannot actually give a shit whether you snort in derision. I love this place, and would much rather have it to myself anyway. If you do decide to go and try it, feel free to thank me later.

On your bike

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 (at the reserve office, 3km later) and 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.

Rated by : Jacques Marais

Off the bike

The Gariep Forever Resort rates as the cleanest and most friendly establishment I have ever visited, bar none. They offer access to every water sport available, from sailing and sunset cruises to power-boating, canoeing and fly-fishing. (Check beforehand, as it often makes sense to bring your own equipment, rather than hire this at a high cost from local operators). Dam wall tours – there are 13.2km of tunnels in the Gariep Dam wall – horse riding, road cycling and trail running should also be on your bucket list.

Activities in the area include dam wall tours (arranged by Water Affairs), game-viewing safaris in Gariep Nature Reserve and visits to the fish hatchery. An aviation club, dam cruises, horse trails and river rafting are also available. Resort activities include anything from tennis, Putt-Putt, golf, swimming and bowls to sailing and angling. The dam is a water sport enthusiast’s paradise, stretching 90km in length and 374 sq km in size, making sailing, jet skiing and power boating a pleasure.

CONTACT:

Route information: Gariep Dam Forever Resort

Address: Private Bag X10, Gariep Dam, 9922

Telephone: +27 (0)51 754 0045

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Website: www.foreversa.co.za

GPS: 30°35′48.4″ South /  025°30′07.8″ East

 

FAST FACTS

GRADING:

Easy

DURATION:

1 - 4 Hours

CONFIGURATION :

Various options

START POINT:

At the Forever Resort

TERRAIN:

Gravel roads, jeep-track, single-track, Savannah plains and low kopjes.

MAP:

Available at Forever Resort

CELL RECEPTION:

Intermittent

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Entry fee payable

FACILITIES:

Ablutions at gate, but no facilities along the route

BEWARE OF:

Aardvark holes in unexpected spots

HOW TO GET THERE

Travel north along the N1 past Colesberg, and look for the turn-off onto the Lake Gariep Tourist Route around 15km later. Follow the signs into Gariep Dam Town; the turn-off to the Forever Resort is on your left less than 1km later.

Distance from Bloemfontein: 2hr drive.

 

BEST TIME OF YEAR

Winter is freezing, but dry while summer brings towering thunderclouds and temperatures around 30°C.

 

 

 

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