Desert storming is the norm for mountain bikers heading onto the endless back-country roads crisscrossing the plains of the far-flung Northern Cape. Go here, if only to experience a range of mind-expanding rides within an arid region resplendent with ochre dunes, wild flowers in all their full bloom glory and alien quiver trees guarding rugged outcrops in distant mountain deserts.
Although the barren Northern Cape is not normally associated with mountain biking, the province boasts several superb riding regions. Namaqualand borders the Western Cape and nudges up against the icy Atlantic, encompassing towns such as Calvinia, Springbok and Alexander Bay, as well as the Richtersveld Desert. Adjacent to Namaqualand you’ll find the Karoo, an endless tableau of scrubland plains, with 100-miler rides along dirt roads linking dorps like Carnarvon, De Aar, Colesberg and Prieska.
The Green Kalahari encompasses the main centre of Upington and the verdant orchards and vineyards stretching along the Orange River, while the Kalahari Proper, all lion grass and undulating red dunes, simmers further north. And do not miss out on the Diamond Fields, a small sub-region surrounding the mining town of Kimberley.