Berg, Bushveld, Battlefields

Mountain Splendour MTB Trails

CLOSEST TOWN > Winterton

TRAIL DESTINATION > Lake Eland Game Reserve

DISTANCE > 5km and 10km

GRADING> Easty to difficult

OVERVIEW

Travellers to this part of KZN will find Mountain Splendour Eco-Resort nestled within a forest on a working farm. Set in foothills of the Central Drakensberg, the trail system boast amazing mountain views directly onto the towering Cathkin Peak and Champagne Castle. 

On your bike

Panoramic vistas and fresh air envelop you as you bomb the purpose-cut single-track, improved every year by owner Iain Don Wauchope and his team.

An easy 5km trail and a more technical 10km intermediate trail around the property can be extended by cranking off into nearby plantations (here you’ll find even more single-track and a good few challenging hills to boot). A permit to access the plantations can be obtained from reception, while a cool kiddies track with fun obstacles will keep the young ones occupied. A skills park is rumoured to be in the pipeline. 

Off the bike

Run one of the trails or go hiking into the Berg, play a game of tennis or volleyball, relax at the pool or, if the water levels are good, try tubing down the local river.

CONTACT:

Telephone: +27 (0)36 468 1172

 

Website: www.mountainsplendour.co.za 

GPS: 29° 00.762’ South / 29° 27.659’East 

 

FAST FACTS

GRADING:

Easy to difficult

DURATION:

Various 

CONFIGURATION :

5km and 10km 

START POINT:

Mountain Splendour Eco-Resort

TERRAIN:

Singletrack, dirt roads

MAP:

Available at reception

CELL RECEPTION:

Yes

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Entry fee payable for day visitors

FACILITIES:Accommodation, ablutions, pool. Bikes for hire

BEWARE OF:

Fickle Berg weather, snakes

 

HOW TO GET THERE

Follow the R600 from Winterton to the Central Drakensberg. Drive 26km towards the Champagne Castle Hotel before turning left onto the D19. Now travel for 1km, following the signs to Mountain Splendour Eco-Resort.


BEST TIME OF YEAR

Year round

 

Vulintaba Country Estate MTB Trail

CLOSEST TOWN > Newcastle

TRAIL DESTINATION > Vulintaba Country Estate

DISTANCE > 10, 12 and 14km

 

GRADING >  Intermediate to difficult

Vulintaba_img

OVERVIEW

Vulintaba Estate boasts an extensive 50km trail network offering a range of options to riders of all abilities. The routes are rated from Green (Easy) and Blue (Intermediate) to Black (Technical). The verdant Hidden Valley basin makes for wide trails with sweeping turns through gently sloping grassland, while the surrounding mountain slopes will test your skills and strength.

On your bike

The Green Route explores the valley below the golf course on wide trails along the stream’s edge, while the Blue Route is mostly contouring single-track. Commit to a steep switchback climb half way up the escarpment before the route levels out to contour back to a stand of gum trees. This is where the Black Route splits off, climbing even higher, while the Blue Route descends on single-track and jeep track back to the centre.

The Black Trail continues along challenging single-track up to the old hiking path, which then joins up with Donkey’s Pass to take you down a level. From here, you will branch off onto a final 3km of serious downhill single-track, passing under a waterfall before returning to the centre.

Off the bike

Golfing of course, on a superb 9-hole course, but there are also hiking and trail running routes as well as horse riding options..

CONTACT:

Telephone: 072 629 6581

Website: www.vulintaba.co.za

GPS: 27° 46.615’ South / 29° 46.740’East 

 

FAST FACTS

GRADING:

Intermediate to Difficult

DURATION:

2 - 4 Hours

CONFIGURATION :

Stacked loop system

START POINT:

Vulintaba Country Estate Main Entrance

TERRAIN:

From grassy valley bottom up to just below the Escarpment of the Northern Drakensberg plus single-track and jeep track

MAP:

See below or ask at reception.

CELL RECEPTION:

Intermittent.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Through Vulintaba Country Estate Main Entrance - by appointment only at present.

FACILITIES:

Restaurant and toilets at the clubhouse and reception

BEWARE OF:

Trail runners and grumpy golfers

HOW TO GET THERE

Turn off N3 to Ladysmith and follow N11 through Ladysmith to Newcastle.

BEST TIME OF YEAR

A perfect destination throughout the year, though you could just crank through the snow at the top of Donkey's Pass in winter.

 

All Out Adventures

CLOSEST TOWN > Bergville

TRAIL DESTINATION > Northern Berg Resorts

DISTANCE > Self Determined

GRADING> Easy to Extreme

 

OVERVIEW

Situated in the unspoilt Northern Drakensberg, the Drakensberg mountain-biking trail system offers a good 100km of riding along some of the most spectacular highland cranks in South Africa. The beauty of this trail system - which is permanently marked and mapped - is that it links many of the Northern Berg rsorts by bike, thus allowing you to access the route from a whole bunch of these venues.

On your bike:

There are four marked trails to choose from at All Out Adventures. Of these, the 10km Gypsy's Bend Trail is the best option for beginners. If your skills are up to an Intermediate trail, head onto the 17km Montusi Gorge Trail, or go to the next level on the technical 20km Trilby Trail.

The mind-blowing Grotto Trail is best left for the truly fearless, as it traverses the Cavern's Surprise Ridge along narrow singletrack that drops off steeply in sections.There are a number of high bridges crossing streams and ravines, and the views as well as the climbs are breathtaking.

Off the bike

Many awesome activities at one spectacular venue. Try South Africa's fastest cable tour, the Adventure Quad Trails or the hair-raising 17m free-fall King Swing.

CONTACT:

Telephone: +27 36 438 6242

Cell: +27 72 386 1344

Website: www.alloutadventures.co.za

GPS: 28°38.617’ South / 29°01.043’ East 


 

 

 

FAST FACTS

GRADING:

Easy to extreme

DURATION:

1-3 hours

CONFIGURATION :

10-25km options

START POINT:

All Out Adventures

TERRAIN:

Tar road and jeep track

MAP:

Map available on website and with trail pass

CELL RECEPTION:

Intermittent

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Trail pass required; one-day or multi-day options

FACILITIES:

A range of accommodation options, coffee shop, picnic sites and ablutions

BEWARE OF:

Quads on beginner trail, two-way traffic, fluctuating river levels

 

HOW TO GET THERE

Leave the R74 between Oliviershoek Pass and Bergville to follow the signs for the Northern Berg resorts. Travel towards the Royal Natal National Park for 6km before turning right just after the Tower of Pizza, towards All Out Adventures, Hlalanathi, Montusi, Alphine Health and The Cavern. Turn left into the parking lot after 3km.

BEST TIME OF YEAR

Perfect all year, though chilly in winter.

 

Cathedral Peak MTB Trails

CLOSEST TOWN > Bergville

TRAIL DESTINATION > Cathedral Peak Hotel

DISTANCE > Various options - 20km

 

GRADING > Moderate to difficult

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OVERVIEW

Nestled in the unspoiled surroundings of the Drakensberg mountain range (a World Heritage Site) lies Cathedral Peak Hotel and offers an enjoyable MTB experience.

On your bike

Mountains beckon all round, with options such as Mike’s Pass (600m ascent in 1st 11km) with a 16km add-on loop at the top between 1700m and 2000m ASL. (Total ascent 915m.) and the legendary climb to Sani Top on the cards. If, however, you’re in the mood for a somewhat milder ride, opt for a gentle crank through the plantations surrounding the Cathedral Peak Hotel.

There is also 20km technical ride along the golf course loop.

Off the bike

Enjoy all the activities that the hotel has to offer.

CONTACT:

Telephone: +27 36 488 1888

Website: www.cathedralpeak.co.za

GPS: 28°56'51.8"S 29° 12'24.9"E

 

FAST FACTS

GRADING:

Moderate to difficult

DURATION:

2-3 Hours

CONFIGURATION :

20km technical ride along the golf course

START POINT:

Cathedral Peak Hotel

TERRAIN:

Gravel roads with reasonable good surfaces and single track.

MAP:

At reception

CELL RECEPTION:

Cell reception reasonable.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Contact for futher details.

FACILITIES:

The Cathedral Peak hotel offers a full range of amenities.  Bikes can also be hired.

BEWARE OF:

Logging trucks, be aware that the weather may change within minutes, so be prepared.  Roads can get muddy.

DIRECTIONS FROM DURBAN (Approximately 250 Kms Total)

Follow the N3 from Durban heading towards JHB. Travel through Mooi Toll Plaza. Once you have passed the Escourt Shell Ultra City, take Exit 194 (marked for Bergville/Colenso) and turn left towards Bergville/Winterton (R74). Drive into Winterton and travel down the main road. Just before the main road veers right there is a left turn marked “Central Berg” (opposite the Engen petrol station). Take this turn, drive over the railway tracks and + 1 km along turn right at the “Cathedral Peak” sign. Sign posts also indicate Didima and Emmaus Mission Hospital. This road leads you to a T-junction where you turn right towards Bergville. After 500m the first left turn is signposted Cathedral Peak. This road leads to Cathedral Peak Hotel (30km) – note the last 20km of this road is very windy and slow speed is recommended.

HOW TO GET THERE

See left.

BEST TIME OF YEAR

Take precautions against bitter cold and snow in winter. Summer months can be hot, so start early. Avoid Dec-Feb riding as it gets very hot.

 

Little Switzerland Resort MTB Trail

CLOSEST TOWN > Harrismith

TRAIL DESTINATION > Little Switzerland Resort

DISTANCE > 22.8km

 

GRADING > Difficult

littleswitzerland

OVERVIEW

Little Switzerland Resort, situated on the Oliviershoek Pass just as you leave the FS to enter KZN, is the first true Drakensberg resort you reach en route from Gauteng. Road conditions have deteriorated to such an extent that owner Chris Mumby recently closed his hotel operations for the time being, currently focusing on conferences and the self-catering units. Although there has always been riding on Little Switzerland’s 3000ha of mountain land, a dedicated MTB track now offers 23km of stunning cranking to the fat track tribe.

On your bike

Sometimes you have to commit to drastic measures to make a specific route work, and in the case of the Little Switzerland MTB Trail, these measures include a grunt of a climb up the Oliviershoek Pass. Yes, you heard right – there’s 4km of tarmac with your name on it, so get over it.

I mean that in the literal sense, as you’ll climb into the wind to the very top, where you turn left onto gravel at the Caterpillar & Catfish B&B (4.2km). Let the good times roll as you continue a gradual gravel climb onto the plateau past the green rainwater tanks and keeping left through the gum trees at the first local kraal (huts – 5.1km) you get to.

Follow the track through an old rusted gate (6.5km), dropping along a gnarly dual-track into a grassy valley and passing two gorgeous old stone ruins (Settler’s Cottages on the map – 8.5km). The climb out is probably a carry if you’re not Burry Stander, but keep going as you top out with a gorgeous trout dam waiting below you in the next dell.

We saw a posse of Cape vultures circling above from the dam (10.6km), but they were probably just waiting for some old Ballie to expire in the gorgeous Alpine surrounds. A couple of kays later you reach the cement singletrack the Mumbys constructed to make the route more rideable year-round.

Crank up the first steep stretch (11.9km) to the highest point along the route (1892m) before you start a 600m drop over 3.5km onto the jeep-track below. Most of this is along sweeping cement singletrack, about 30cm wide, and you need to keep your wits about you if you don’t want to come a cropper.

At 16.5km, you dog-leg left onto the gravel track towards Little Switzerland Resort. This is mostly level riding, but with enough loose rocks and erosion ruts thrown in to keep you on your toes. At 22.8km you sneak back into the resort grounds along a wooden board walk, just in time for a frosty. (No matter the time of day – you’ve deserved it)!

Rated by : Jacques Marais

Off the bike

Outdoor options at Little Switzerland abound. Swop your iron steed for a sturdy mount and head into the mountains under ‘horse power’, or tramp onto one of the stunning waterfall hikes. There is also tennis, bowls, putt-putt and a host of activities to keep other members of the family happy. The Coyote Café must be the top foodie spot in the region; I’ve never had Jamaican Jerk Chicken or Prawn Curry this good. Plus, their Flat Whites and carrot cake rate at least 11/10.

CONTACT:

Route information: Alenore Ruiter, Reservations

Address: Private Bag X1661, Bergville, 3350

Telephone: + 27 (0)36 438 2500

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

Website: www.littleswitzerlandaccomodation.co.za

GPS: 28°34'50.4" South /  29°02'59.4" East

 

FAST FACTS

GRADING:

Difficult (loose terrain and technical cement singletrack)

DURATION:

Various up to 3 hours

CONFIGURATION :

16km return ride

START POINT:

At Little Switzerland Resort

TERRAIN:

Tarmac, 4x4 track, gravel road, cement singletrack, eroded and unstable surface, grass tussocks make for rough riding

MAP:

Available from reception

CELL RECEPTION:

None

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Guests of Little Switzerland Resort only

FACILITIES:

Accommodation at Little Switzerland Resort. Health and Beauty Spa

BEWARE OF:

In summer, thunderstorms can turn this into a mud bath. Sharp drops

 

HOW TO GET THERE

Turn onto the R74 just on 5km out of Harrismith heading south, and follow the signs towards Bergville past the scenic Sterkfontein Dam. Just beyond the dam, you will reach the steep Oliviershoek Pass descent. Little Switzerland is on your right, 43km from Harrismith and approximately 40km before you reach Bergville.

Distance from Harrismith: 1hr drive

BEST TIME OF YEAR

Summer can be hot, but spring is best.

 

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