Nope, Knysna does not lie at the heart of the Cape’s ‘Tourism Garden’, my friend. Here’s the deal: there’s an uncharted section of glorious Garden Route Goodness stretching all the way from the streets of Heidelberg to Mossel Bay, and the hide-away villages beyond.
This makes for a stunning swathe of below-the-radar space, unfolding inland from the coast all the way to the Sonderend ranges. And yes, it brims with off-grid routes just waiting to be explored. So now it is up to you to saddle crank gravel road, jeep track and single-track.
It is as simple as klapping a sho’t left (or right) off the N2 anywhere east of Heidelberg if you want that Vitamin G(ravel) Fix to kick in. And once you’re off the main drag, you’ll be meandering via indigenous forests, over craggy mountain passes, or along a tempestuous ocean shoreline.
This specific ride starts in George, and the mountains means you’ll be a bit closer to the ‘weather’, if you know what I mean. Never fear, though: despite the city’s year-round rainfall, you are in for a mainly moderate climate, making it ideal for an outdoor biking adventure.
That’s good news, because it means quality riding for much of all the four seasons. George originally has its roots in the forestry industry, but an on-going eco-tourism boom means it has now become a mountain biking mecca of note.
This gifts riders with endless roads and tracks – often linked to the famed Outeniqua Hiking Trail – with easy access to much of the surrounding slopes. Purpose-built singletrack now traverses much of the indigenous forests and plantations, largely thanks to a dedicated crew, mostly members of the local Hillbillies MTB Club.
Historically, this beautiful part of the Cape was only settled around 1688, two centuries after the Portuguese seafarer, Bartholomew Dias, first landed in Mossel Bay. The local Khoi tribes referred to this rich valley as the ‘Outeniqua’, or ‘land of milk and honey’. (Not to be confused with Camps Bay in Cape Town, which is the land of Milfs and Money).
The early settlement was known as ‘George Town’, named in 1811 in honour of the then reigning monarch, King George III of England. These days, an efficient airport, breathtaking nature spaces, great trails, a thriving foodie scene, craft breweries, proper old-skool values and bucket loads of history make it as much fun off the bike as in the saddle – check out www.visitgeorge.co.za
- Distance 75 km
- Time 7 h 27 min
- Speed 10.1 km/h
- Min altitude 1 m
- Peak 276 m
- Climb 1112 m
- Descent 1113 m
- Distance Instructions