Olifants Valley

Debengeni Downhill MTB Trail

CLOSEST TOWN > Tzaneen

TRAIL DESTINATIONMagoebaskloof Pass Road back to Hotel

DISTANCE > 18km return ride

 

GRADING > Difficult to Extreme

OVERVIEW

The Debengeni Downhill is actually the off-road parallel to the famous Magoebaskloof Pass Road. Riders engage in self-flagellation annually at the Magoebaskloof MTB Classic, when they ride up the Debengeni downhill. Up or down? Your choice.

On your bike

Off-road: Debengeni is a stunning 15 to 18 km downhill ride with a drop of 1,000 m depending on where you start. Resident mountain bikers have reached speeds of between 70 and 85 km/h. If you want to blast it, put on body armour; if not, it is fun anyway. Fitness and skills are no issue if you just want to take it easy. With gravity as your friend, you can relax and admire the secret valleys and emerald mountains unfolding before you. Don’t be tempted to ride faster than you should and dice with the locals on home terrain. As this downhill is a district road in parts, it may be shared with vehicles so keep left on all blind corners and anticipate the unexpected.

The general course is down Forest drive. As some of the local riding gems lie just off the beaten track, a guided ride with Gray Braadvedt is recommended. Gray is an accomplished guide and cycling coach, so you will get the best if you go with him. He does not charge a fee as it is not his profession, but a pie at the Pot and Plow would please him.

The ride begins in commercial forest, winding through tropical forest past seasonal streams and waterfalls, the most famous being the ride’s namesake, Debengeni Falls. It ends next to the Magoebaskloof dam which is surrounded by the neatly manicured Sapekoe tea plantations.

On road: There are hordes of road rides in the area. The most infamous is the Magoebaskloof Challenge, an organized ride held in May each year. If you want to try it on your own, here’s how :-

Start at the Magoebaskloof Hotel which has been rebuilt after being destroyed by fire in 2003. Ride 11 undulating kilometers towards Haenertsburg and then turn left onto the R528 Georges Valley Road. This takes you up around the top of the Ebenezer dam, one of the most picturesque mountain reservoirs in the country. A fast 15 km plunge down Georges Valley will increase your average speed, heart rate and insurance premiums. Riders boast of doing speeds in excess of 90 km/h on this section. Another 15 km of undulating road gets you to the outskirts of the town of Tzaneen. Turn left onto the R36 which will carry you over the Tzaneen dam for 4 km. then turn left again onto the R71. You will pass through manicured tea plantations and past the Magoebaskloof dam to within 6 km of your starting point. There is a catch, however. Those last 6km take you from around 800 m to 1,400 m above sea level. Hence the name “Magoebaskloof Challenge”. Remember to put sunblock on the back of your eyeballs!! Most of this route is reasonably safe riding. The lower 15km of Georges Valley must be ridden single file and well to the left.

Off the bike

If the Downhill plummet or the Magoebaskloof challenge hasn’t finished you off, the Death by Chocolate cake at the Sapekoe Tea Plantation Restaurant will. Or if you don’t have the requisite sweet tooth, drive back up to the top of the pass to consume the most delicious pies at The Pot and Plow. Alternatively, if you haven’t worked up an appetite yet, immerse yourself in quality arts and crafts at nearby Haenertsburg.

CONTACT:

Website: www.magoebaskloof.co.za / www.magoebasklooftourism.co.za 

Telephone: +27 (0)83 442 7429

GPS: 23° 53.314’ South / 29° 59.747’East

 

 

FAST FACTS

GRADING:

Difficult to Extreme

DURATION:

Various

CONFIGURATION :

15/18km one way ride, depending on where you start

START POINT:

The Magoebaskloof Hotel

TERRAIN:

Single track, gravel roads, extreme off road.

MAP:

The trail is not marked, but maps of the area are available to give you an idea of which directions to take.

CELL RECEPTION:

Yes

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Most of the route is on Komatiland forestry and on public access roads, so generally there is no fee payable. If you want to go off the beaten track, then permission has to be sought from Komatiland forestry. Alternatively, Gray Braadtvedt, a local rider and pioneer of the Magoebas MTB Classic will guide you

FACILITIES:

The streams are all potable, so you can make as many water stops as you like. The Debegeni Falls picnic site has ablution facilities.

BEWARE OF:

Vehicles on blind corners

 

HOW TO GET THERE

The Magoebaskloof Hotel is situated just off the R71 between Haenertsburg and Tzaneen

BEST TIME OF YEAR

The subtropical climate means loads of mud and heat.

 

Kruger Park MTB Trails from Olifants Camp

CLOSEST TOWN > Phalaborwa

TRAIL DESTINATION > Kruger Park, Olifants Camp

DISTANCE > 12.2 km, 21.4 km, 24.8 km

 

GRADING > From easy to intermediate to difficult.

OVERVIEW

On your bike

Not many people can lay claim to having cycled with Big 5 beasts in one of the world’s premier game parks, that’s for sure. So, if you do find yourself at Olifants Camp, this is one adventure you should definitely have on your bucket list.

Catch a ride to the start of the trail in one of the open game viewing vehicles, all under the watchful eye of your two highly skilled (and armed, of course) field guides who will lead the trail. You can use one of the stock bikes from national parks (or bring your own) while even backpacks, water bottles, cycling helmets and snacks for the day are supplied. Below are your route options :

Hardekool Draai Ride (21.4 km): Green Rating

 

This easy return route option starts off with a gentle ascent along a slightly rocky rangers’ road doubling as as a firebreak. You will pass through dense stands of mopane, with views every now and then of the Olifants River. Venture off-track at any time, and you’ll find the ground covered in a carpet of thorns of all shapes and sizes … so don’t! If you bring your own bike, make a 1000% sure it is PROPERLY puncture-proofed.  Hardekool Draai may well be a “novice ride” by some mountain bikers’ standards, but the riding here in Kruger Park is aimed at integrating your sport with your surroundings, rather than proving how skilled you are on your bike. 

Olifants/Letaba River Confluence Trail (12 km): Black Rating

Follow the S44 gravel road beyond Olifants River view point for just over 10km from camp, and you’ll find an unmarked, dual-track road which will whip you away on an unforgettable mountain biking experience. Rocks, branches and tight turns will keep you fully focussed on the ride, to such an extent that you may forget that at any moment you may bump into elephant, buffalo, lion, nyala, water buck, giraffe or zebra, to name just a few of the park’s 147 mammal species. The route is not strenuous, but participants need to be skilled riders to appreciate the ride, as the terrain is graded intermediate to difficult.

Klipkoppies Mozambique Border Trail (24.8 km): Red Rating

Olifants Camp is situated a mere 22km from the Mozambican border, and a short drive on the S44 past Olifants River viewpoint will take you to the Letaba River. Cross the river on a fire-break road  to your starting point, and crank off along the trail leading south-east. You will be heading towards the Lebombo Mountains to eventually ride along the border fence with Mozambique. This circular ride is an Intermediate to Difficult ride, so would not really be suited to inexperienced mountain bikers.

Off the bike

Olifants Camp is perched high on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Olifants River. Bring your binoculars for long, peaceful hours alternately spent reading, napping and viewing game in or near the river below. Bird-watching opportunities are amazing in this camp as the birds are so accustomed to guests they almost eat out of your hand. Unfortunately, the same applies to baboons and monkeys and this is why all the fridges are turned back to front and the pantry cupboards have locks. Book for a guided night drive or an afternoon walk.

CONTACT:

Website: www.sanparks.org / Tel: +27 (0)13 735 6606/7

GPS: 24° 0'20.14" South / 31°44'24.79" East

 

FAST FACTS

GRADING:

From easy to intermediate to difficult.

DURATION:

Depends on route chosen

CONFIGURATION :

Circular

START POINT:

Olifants Camp

TERRAIN:

Gravel roads and game tracks

MAP:

Quality maps are available at the entry gates; all tours are guided

CELL RECEPTION:

Yes, in most of the park.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Camp guests only. Visitors must ensure they reach the entry gates in good time. Camp and reserve entry gates close at 17h30 in winter, and 18h30 in summer. Latecomers will not be allowed in until the next day.

FACILITIES:

Chalets and camping facilities available

BEWARE OF:

Kruger Park is in a malaria area. 

Pay attention to the instructions of your field guide as you are in Big Five territory.

 

 

Directions to the Phalaborwa Gate From Johannesburg / Gauteng:

Follow the N4 to Nelspruit, then take the R40 northwards via Hazyview, Bushbuck Ridge and Klaserie to Hoedspruit. Continue on the R40 to Mica, splitting right to Phalaborwa Gate. Once in the park, follow the signs to Olifants Camp.  

 

HOW TO GET THERE

See left.

BEST TIME OF YEAR

Very warm in summer.

 

Maduma Boma MTB Trail

CLOSEST TOWN > Hoedspruit

TRAIL DESTINATION > Maduma Boma Game Estate

DISTANCE > 5km

 

GRADING > Easy

OVERVIEW

A leisurely early morning bicycle ride brings you face to face with some of the 23 mammal species and 250 bird species on the reserve. 

On your bike

Lean your bike against a convenient tree and sit quietly at one of the many hides and dams situated on the farm, watching abundant bird life. Spend lunch around your own private swimming pool, soaking up the sun while a mother warthog and her brood visit you for tea. At dusk the Drakensberg Mountains are awash with red. In the evening, fix lights onto your bicycle and see how the ride you did this morning is totally transformed. This is the time to sit back against the crossbar and just stare at the eternal southern sky. Remember to take malaria precautions in summer.

Off the bike

Maduma Boma is the perfect base from which to tour the scenic Drakensberg Escarpment and Bushveld as well as the Kruger National Park. Orpen Gate is just 20 minutes away. There are lots of other attractions nearby including the Cheetah Breeding Project, the Mohololo Rehabilitation Center, Klaserie Dam and the Blyde Rivierspoort Resort.

CONTACT: Barry or Sue Barnett

Address: PO Box 1100, Hoedspruit, 1380

Telephone: +27(0)15 793 2813    Barry +27(0)82 852 4592 / Sue +27 (0)82 460 2700

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

Website: www.madumaboma.co.za

GPS: -24° 30' 4.35", +31° 4' 7.43"

 

FAST FACTS

GRADING:

Easy

DURATION:

Self-Determined

CONFIGURATION :

Various

START POINT:

Start at Maduma Boma

TERRAIN:

Gravel road, jeep track

MAP:

Every guest is supplied with a map of the trail and nature reserve, with additional copies available at reception.

CELL RECEPTION:

Yes

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Resident guests only

FACILITIES:

Seven chalets sleeping six and eight on their own 25 ha with private swimming pools and bomas. Solar and gas powered lights, stove, geyser and fridge.

BEWARE OF:

Malaria - remember to take precautions in summer.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

See page....

BEST TIME OF YEAR

Very warm in summer

 

The Google map shows the location of the trails in the Olifants Region. You can also choose from the links at the bottom if the map doesn't work for you...

  • The pointers show the approximate locations of the MTB trails.
  • Hovering your mouse over a marker will show the trail name.
  • Clicking on a marker will bring up additional information about the trail. You can zoom in on a marker when it is clicked, using the controls on the left.
  • Clicking on the name or picture will take you to the relevant route page.
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