Closest Town: Paterson
Grading: Easy to extreme | Duration: 4 hours, or dependent on route choice - overnight at the hut in the reserve
Location (Area/Province): Amatola and Eastern Cape
Configuration: Various return or circular permutations
Start Point: Commando Drift Nature Reserve
Access: Permit available at the reserve office
Beware of: Thorns – think both Slime and liners!
Facilities: Camping, chalets, cabins and trail hut, ablutions
Cell Reception: Yes, but limited
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Be like Rambo and tackle the tough Endurance Trail meandering through sections of spectacular broken karroid landscape within Commando Drift Nature Reserve. This is a rocky route, traversing remote and untouched parts of the area unfolding towards a spectacular Karoo mountain backdrop.
Although challenging, it is top-class riding and you can expect encounters with a diverse selection of wildlife inhabiting this 6 000ha reserve. Species include kudu, reedbuck, mountain zebra, red hartebeest and black wildebeest. Adapt your route by utilising the various management roads.
On your bike
Those in the mood for an easy cruise should pedal onto the Bushman Route along the management roads within the reserve, where the surface is generally good. The terrain is hilly in places, but the ride won’t challenge you too much.
Bushman MTB Route: This trail follows the management roads within the reserve so the surface is generally good. Although the terrain is hilly in places, the ride won’t challenge you too much and you can expect to spend around 3 hours in the saddle. Game-viewing includes zebra, black wildebeest, blesbok, springbok, kudu, baboons and troops of vervet monkeys in the densely wooded river course.
Commando Drift Endurance Trail: This tough Endurance Trail meanders through some spectacular Broken Karroid landscape with in the reserve. The rocky route, traversing remote and untouched surroundings stretching away towards a spectacular Karoo mountain backdrop, makes for top-class riding. Expect close encounters with the rich wildlife that inhabits this 6,000 ha reserve. The riverine thickets, reed beds and dam ensure a rich diversity of birdlife along a trail that will certainly test your endurance and biking skills.
Mountain bikers may adapt the route to suit their fitness levels by using available management roads. Halfway along the Endurance Trail a trail hut offers a convenient fresh water replenishing point or the option of overnighting here. Park visitors with off-road vehicles may access the hut to overnight here using it as a base from which to explore the various routes by bike. A number of game watering points also provide fresh water along the route and the management roads.
The rocky terrain, as well as a profusion of acacia and devil thorns, necessitates additional reinforcement for tyres – think slime or tyre liners. It goes without saying that puncture repair kits are essential. Things are looking good for the future too with routes incorporating both the reserve and surrounding farmland currently under discussion.
Off the bike
The reserve has a dam on which all forms of boating and water sport are permitted, including powerboats, waterskiing, sailing, windsurfing and canoeing. Canoes are available for hire within the reserve. Angle for small-mouth yellow fish, carp, moggel or sand barbell, mudfish and barbell, or enjoy a refreshing swim in the lake. A bird and game hide and short hiking and horse trails offer the opportunity to get close to the animals. Use your own off-road vehicle or book for either the night or day game drives.
Telephone: +27 43 701 9600 / +27 48 881 3925
Website : www.visiteasterncape.co.za
GPS: 32°06’ 42.9”S 26°02’ 44.6”E