Southern Region NW

Berakah MTB Trail

CLOSEST TOWN > Parys

TRAIL DESTINATION > Vredefort dome

DISTANCE > 12-23km

GRADING > Intermediate to Difficult

OVERVIEW

The unique, geological features of Vredefort Dome were shaped two billion years ago when a colossal meteorite struck Planet Earth to form a huge mega-crater. This is good news for mountain bikers keen to explore the grasslands, dense kloofs and craggy kopjes scattered within the 200km inverted dome.

Rated as one of South Africa’s original World Heritage Sites, the Dome Land Conservancy is mainly in the hands of private landowners. This does mean that operators lack cohesion, with the result that adventure activities are presented in a rather haphazard way. A multi-day Dome crank would be great, but unfortunately there is little route-sharing amongst the various destinations at this stage.

On your bike

There are a handful of trails worthy of a good crank in the area, and Berakah Adventures is a good place to start. The MTB route follows their quad bike trail (you’re bound to hear the bikes and will probably outride them, though). Don’t expect the most flowing of rides, but the trail here is great if you want to work on your technical skills and endurance.

The trail head is at reception, and immediately passes through a small gate to meander in an anti-clockwise direction through the valley below the farm buildings. Negotiate your way through a poplar grove to pass above the office (at around the 3km mark), and then continue up-stream along the quad bike trail.

Expect steep, rocky climbs and drops as you pedal through typical bush veldt environment.

An escape route option at around 8km allows you to cross the river and follow a winding route back to the start, or otherwise you could keep going along the Mountain View loop to extend your ride to approximately 23km.

The Berakah trail system has been used for MTB races, and will be achievable to average riders. The venue - famous for their 4x4 and quad bike routes – boasts dramatic natural beauty as you crank through open savannah, bush veldt, riverbeds, mud, water, hill climbs and rugged outcrops.

Steep, rock-strewn footpaths alternate with dual- track, and in the lowlands there are dongas and a few sketchy log bridges. Berakah is not for the faint-hearted, as it combines a bit of danger with a lot of sweat. However, a bit of perseverance will deliver a satisfying crank on the edge of the Vredefort crater rim.

The routes are not that well-marked, but amap of all the Berakah Eco Trails can be found on line at www.berakah.co.za  It may be a good idea to print this out before you set off.

Off the bike

This World Heritage Area offers great hiking, bird watching, bouldering and mountain biking within an ecologically distinctive biome. The lush swathe cut by the mighty Vaal River adds options such as fishing, canoeing, rafting and access to a range of accommodation establishments.  

CONTACT:

Route information: Berakah Adventures

Address: PO Box 1649, Parys 9585

Telephone: +27 56 818 1313 or +27 82 339 9177 (Lenie/Andre) 

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

Website: www.berakah.co.za

 

GPS: 26 49' South /  25" 27 22' 20" East

 

FAST FACTS

GRADING:

Intermediate to Difficult

DURATION:

Depends on your choice of route

CONFIGURATION :

12km to 23km circular routes

START POINT:

Berakah Camp

TERRAIN:

Steep, rock-strewn jeep tracks, dongas, log bridges

MAP:

Trails maps available at Berakah receptiong

CELL RECEPTION:

None

ENTRY REQUIEMENTS:

Entry fee payable

FACILITIES:

Toilet at start. Berakah has a beautiful camp on top of the mountain where there is a water point.

BEWARE OF:

Summer heat, thorns, snakes.

How to get there:

  • Follow the concrete highway N1 Johannesburg - Cape Town.
  • Take the Sasolburg / Parys off ramp.
  • Turn right and take road into Parys.
  • Follow the "S" road through Parys to robot - Potchefstroom / Fochville signboard. Turn right at robot.
  • Cross the Vaal river bridge. Follow Berakah signs and turn left to Potchefstroom (2nd road).
  • Follow road over the mountain to next Berakah signboard turning left into dirt road.
  • Follow dirt road for ±2km to Berakah Adventures signs.
  • Follow Berakah Adventures signs.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

See left.


BEST TIME OF YEAR

Summer can be very hot; pack sunblock!

 

Elgro River Lodge Game Farm MTB Trail

CLOSEST TOWN > Potchefstroom

TRAIL DESTINATION > Elgro River Lodge Park

DISTANCE > Various

 

GRADING > Intermediate

OVERVIEW

Elgro Lodge is a true African experiance away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Situated on a bend of the Vaal River, it offers unexpected beautyky and peace.

On your bike

Distance is self-determined on a network of game dirve tracks in mountain area with breathtaking views of the Vaal River and surrounds and a chance to see wildlife.

 

Off the bike

The Lodge has 9 beautiful self-catering riverside units, fully equipped, and with access to a swimming pool, to make your breakaway as personal and effortless as possible.

Other activities include game drives, Mampoer tastings, river rafting, bird watching, mountain biking, fly fishing, 3D traditional archery, team building events and much more.

 

CONTACT:

Address: Nooitgedacht, Schoemansdrift

Tel: +27 (0)18 297 5411

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank" title="Email">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Website: www.elgroriverlodge.co.za or there blog www.elgroriverlodge.wordpress.com

GPS: 26°55′28.5″S 027°10′53.6″E

 

FAST FACTS

GRADING:

Intermediate

DURATION:

Self-determined

CONFIGURATION :

Game drive tracks and gametracks to top of mountain

START POINT:

Elgro River Lodge

TERRAIN:

Gamedrive tracks and gametracks

MAP:

Available from reception

CELL RECEPTION:

Yes

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Contact for entry fees.

FACILITIES:

Accommodation available in chalets and farmhouse. Swimming pool.

BEWARE OF:

Summer heat.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

Head north on Walter Sisulu Ln towardNelson Mandela St/N12 for 6m.

Turn right onto Govan Mbeki Dr for 600m.

Turn right onto Nelson Mandela St/N12 for 5km.

Slight right onto R501 for 20.8km.

Turn left and drive for 14.7km.

BEST TIME OF YEAR

Summer is very hot.

 

Lindbergh Lodge

CLOSEST TOWN > Wolmaransstad

TRAIL DESTINATIONLindbergh Private Game Reserve

DISTANCE > 30km

 

GRADING > Moderate to difficult

lindbergh3

OVERVIEW

The exclusive Lindbergh Lodge, often called the 'Jewel of South Africa’s North West', is set on 5 000ha of wide open savannah plains, dotted with magnificent acacias and abounding in wildlife. As there are no dangerous animals in the reserve, all the roads are there for you to explore, so best you get cranking!

On your bike

Sandy jeep tracks and gritty gravel roads start from reception to swoop amidst umbrella acacias, with herds of kudu, giraffe, wildebeest and other plains animals all around. You can expect to do some pushing along frequent stretches of soft sand, but fortunately much of the riding is flat enough to allow you to stay in the saddle with a bit of speed and practice.

Off the bike

The waterhole or hide is a perfect picnic spot, while the historical main complex offers stunning views across the main camp waterhole. Game viewing is good, with regular sightings of kudu, giraffe, wildebeest and other plains animals.

CONTACT:

Contact Person: Diana Lindbergh

Tel: +27 11 884 8924

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

Website: www.lindberghlodge.co.za

GPS: 27°16'24.9" South / 25°42'3.8" East

 

FAST FACTS

GRADING:

Moderate riding, but the sand may push it into the difficult zone here and there.

DURATION:

2-3 hours

CONFIGURATION :

Various options, around 30km

START POINT:

At the main camp complex of Lindbergh Lodge

TERRAIN:

Mostly gravel roads, but very sandy in places

MAP:

A map of reserve roads is available at the Main Complex

CELL RECEPTION:

Intermittent

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Day visitors' fee payable

FACILITIES:

Safe parking, café, restaurant and ablutions at Main Complex

BEWARE OF:

Acacia thorns are rife, so make sure you have liners in your tyres

 

HOW TO GET THERE

From Wolmaransstad continue on the N12 (Bloemhof road) for approximately 18km until the Rietpan sign. Turn right here onto a gravel road and drive 15km until the Leeufontein sign (also the Lindbergh Lodge sign).

Turn right and drive 1.5km to white stone pillars on the left of the road. Turn left and proceed for 6km.

BEST TIME OF YEAR

Can be hot during summer.

 

Otters’ Haunt Adventure Centre MTB Trail

CLOSEST TOWN > Parys

TRAIL DESTINATIONDome Bergland

DISTANCE > Various options

 

GRADING >  Easy to difficult

 

OVERVIEW

Various routes from Otters’ Haunt loop along back roads, jeep tracks and footpaths onto adjacent farms, so it is important to book your ride in advance to ensure access. Distances and terrain will vary depending upon access.

On your bike

Tweezer Rocks (15 km figure-of-eight circuit): While Otters’ Haunt is in the North-West province, the Tweezer Rocks ride crosses over the Vaal and takes place on seldom used public paths and back roads on the Free State side of the river. This 15 km ‘breakfast run’ trail, east of Parys towards the airport, gets its name from the amazing silhouette of rocks atop a koppie where two upstanding boulders hold a third between them. The trail goes around the koppie containing the ‘tweezers’. Apart from one moderate gradient up a track, most of the riding is easy, suiting even adventurous novices, due to a variety of terrains encountered, from tar to jeep tracks and footpaths.

The trail affords excellent views of rolling Free State and North-West grassland interspersed with boulder-strewn slopes and scenic koppies crowned with granite blocks. The Parys township Tumahole is seen spread out on the horizon to the south-west, with the Vaal River valley’s thick green riverine fringes off to the north, while the hills of the Dome Bergland beckon to any rider on the northwest horizon. Stop off in Parys for nosh.

Oupa se Plaas (6 km return): Prior booking through Otters’ Haunt is essential for this easy to intermediate Bergland trail, which is accessed 10 km outside of Parys on the Potchefstroom road. The route leads to a quaint farmhouse and by sticking to farm roads, this ride is suitable even for child bikers.

Small Circle and Quarry (15 km circuit or return): Cycling directly from Otters’ Haunt over farm properties gets you to the Lion’s Head quarry. Otters’ will arrange permission for you to enter. This trail offers fun and tricky riding, ending with a fast return on tar all the way back to Otters’.

Kopjeskraal Ascent: This 19km return takes you up via wild olive and acacia woodland to the first ridge of the Dome Bergland. Relatively fit riders will handle it, but expect to walk on the final, very steep hill. The view across both the Dome and Vaal Valley is spectacular, and there are ancient Tswana stone ruins at the top. Prior booking is a must. 

Off the bike

Otters’ Haunt is popular with on-road and off-road cyclists, fly-fishermen, birdwatchers, canoeists and whitewater rafters. Otters’ Haunt organizes mountain biking group outings, rafting trips on the exciting Vaal rapids, as well as hikes and runs through the Bergland mountains of the blast zone. Here too get information on battlefields from the Boer War and the Great Trek, as well as prehistoric archaeological sites. The village of Parys is popular with art and antique lovers, containing many knick-knack shops, coffee bars and restaurants.

CONTACT:

Route information: Karen and Graeme Addison

Telephone: +27 (0)56 818 1814 or +27 (0)82 475 8767 or +27 (0)84 245 2490

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

Website: www.otters.co.za

GPS: 26°54’35.62″S  27°25’43.06″E

 

FAST FACTS

GRADING:

Easy to difficult

DURATION:

Various

CONFIGURATION :

Numerous trails of varying difficulty

START POINT:

Various starting points

TERRAIN:

Back road, paths, tar

MAP:

Maps including GPS co-ordinates are available from reception

CELL RECEPTION:

None

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Limited numbers of day visitors. Entry fee payable; please phone ahead.

FACILITIES:

Self-catering, River house, Cabins, swimming pool, jacuzzi. See webiste for maor details.

BEWARE OF:

Hot summer temperatures and thorns.

How to get there:

From Johannesburg, take the N1 and pass through the Grasmere tollgate. Continue on over the Vaal River. Turn off from the N1 1km before the KroonVaal tollgate, crossing over the N1 to join the R59 to Parys (20km). Entering Parys, follow the road as it makes a right angled bend around the town, which takes you into Bree Street (the main street full of coffee bars and art shops). Drive to the only traffic lights on Bree. Turn right at the lights to Potchefstroom. Cross the Vaal Bridge, and within 150 metres turn left onto Kopjeskraal Road. (This road is a loop and returns to meet the Potch road later).

Drive exactly two km down Kopjeskraal, and Otters’ Haunt, at left, is marked by a big white wall and gate with the name. If you pass Khaya iBhubesi, you have gone too far!Come to Reception at Otters. At our gate, slide the gate open. Come straight down the driveway to Reception. At the top of our drive a sharp turn left takes you to the Bush Cabins where you can park and come to Reception.

HOW TO GET THERE

See left.

 

BEST TIME OF YEAR

Very hot during summer.

 

Thabela Thabeng MTB Trail

CLOSEST TOWN > Parys

TRAIL DESTINATIONDome Mountains

DISTANCE > 24km

 

GRADING > Intermediate to extreme

OVERVIEW

Thabela Thabeng is situated centrally within the Domeland World Heritage Site, and mountain bikers have long visited this remote mountain retreat in search of amazing cranking options here within the Vredefort Dome mountains and on the banks of the Vaal River. 

On your bike

All the hiking trails are also suitable for mountain biking, exept Bobbejaankrans. The trails can be combined into a  24km trail. Thabela Thabeng means ‘be happy in the mountains’ so penetrate deep into the mountains by going up the kloof at Thabela Thabeng, where the National MTB Championship downhill of 1997 was held. Catch your breath and admire the view.

Then, what took you an hour to push and pedal up flashes past in a radical downhill as you barrel over rocks, concrete strips, hairpin bends and rutted jeep tracks. In minutes the downhill spits you out over the Venterskroon road. The gradient eases off as you thread your way across the Vaal River floodplains, passing through verdant riverine forest down to the river which forms the glittering centerpiece of the Dome Conservancy.

Off the bike

Thabela Thabeng is the ideal venue for an active holiday, offering rafting, paddling, abseiling, river boat cruising, fly-fishing, hiking, game-viewing and birding.

CONTACT:

Address: PO Box 1923, Parys, 9585

Telephone: 056 818 1116 or 073 550 8986

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

Website: www.thabelathabeng.co.za

GPS: S 26°51'38" /  E 27°17'14"

 

FAST FACTS

GRADING:

Intermediate to exteme

DURATION:

1-3 hours

CONFIGURATION :

Various options up to 24km

START POINT:

Thabela Thabeng

TERRAIN:

Jeep track, downhills, hairpin bends

MAP:

Available from reception on arrival

CELL RECEPTION:

None

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Day passes available by prior arrangement

FACILITIES:

Accommodation includes; five luxury mountain chalets, three chalets around the swimming pool, a youth hostel, at 'The Old Barn' which can accommodate 70 guests. The entire venue can also be booked for a conference or teambuilding weekends. Safe parking and kiosk.

BEWARE OF:

Public roads are shared with motor vehicles so be vigilant

How to get there:

  • From Johannesburg take the N1 South and pass through the Grasmere Toll Plaza
  • Approximately 60 km further take the Parys / Sasolburg turnoff to Parys (R59 to Parys 20 km). Don’t go through the Kroon Vaal Plaza
  • Enter the Town and keep in the right lane
  • Follow the Potchefstroom road signs
  • At the robot (c/o Breë and Van Coller Streets) turn right and cross the Vaal River
  • Proceed about 2 km and turn left on the R53 to Potchefstroom
  • Travel 10 km and take the turn-off to Venterskroon
  • Travel 10 km and Thabela Thabeng will be on your left

 

HOW TO GET THERE

See on the left.


BEST TIME OF YEAR

All year round, can get very hot in summer.

 

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