Closest Town: Morgan’s Bay
Grading: Moderate | Duration: 90 minutes to a full day
Location (Area/Province): Amatola and Eastern Cape
Configuration: 8km return to the Double Mouth Reserve; 20km various possibilities for the rest
Start Point: Morgan Bay Hotel
Access: Public access
Beware of: Ride with care along the cliffs; watch out for ticks, cows, goats, dogs etc.
Facilities: Range of accommodation options, basic shops
Cell Reception: Unexpectedly good
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Say a Big Howzit! to summer beach biking along a thousand stunning trails cavorting along the rugged Eastern Cape coastline. This is Imana Wild Ride territory, with riding options encompassing everything from laid-back coastal cruising to swooping cattle tracks along the breathtaking Indian Ocean shoreline.
This breathtakingly scenic ‘tamer’ section of the Wild Coast languishes along the muddy roil of the Great Kei River, within easy reach of Port Elizabeth and the N2, inland from the Indian Ocean coastline. The whole of the Old Transkei rates as one of SA’s most undiscovered cycling destinations and, if you consider yourself as a staunch biking brave, a pedal into the heart of Pondoland will deliver the riding experience of a lifetime.
The area around Morgan’s Bay boasts rollicking rides along hiking paths, cattle tracks and gravel roads hugging the ocean shore. Beach cruising is part of the deal, though, so make sure you time your rides to coincide with low tide and a firm strip of beach.
On your bike
What do you mean, The Route? When you head into the old Transkei, you have to find your own route, so a GPS or compass and a set of maps are a must. The annual Imana Wild Ride does however follow an adventurous course bombing between the Umtamvuna River in the north and the Kei River in the south. Estuary crossings, mangrove marshes, rocky hiking trails, rutted singletrack and speedy gravel roads, all set within the gorgeous Xhosa heartland, make this the ride of a lifetime.
From the village of ‘Morgs’, you can head either east or west along the shoreline for a quickie crank. If you’re in the mood for dolphins and scintillating views, pedal out of town along a gravel track heading west just above the main beach onto the dramatic cliffs rising above the Wild Coast surge. The cliff-top trail makes for technical riding, as it is the route local hikers and horseback outriders follow, so keep it tidy. You could also stick to the steep jeep track, just inland from the cliffs, meandering towards Double Mouth Reserve. This is just on 4km away from Morgan’s Bay, but there are many trails continuing further along the beach.
For a beefier ride, head east towards Kei Mouth along the beach. Combine this with a few sections of coastal forest singletrack past the lighthouse, plus a speedy gravel cruise past Kei Mouth Town to the ferry crossing. If you cross the river, the options are endless and you could potentially keep going for days. There is exceptional beach cruising above Kei Mouth, while the grassland slopes are crisscrossed with cattle footpaths and hiking trails.
Off the bike
If it’s summer time on the Wild Coast, anything goes in the great outdoors. Hike the scenic Strandloper Trail (or the Wild Coast Meander if you’re keen to sleep in a comfy bed at night), otherwise wander off on a day tramp to Double Mouth Nature Reserve. Saddle up for a horse ride along the cliffs, surf a solid point break, go game viewing, watch humpback whales or simply soak up the sun on the beach.
Telephone: +27 (0)43 841 1062
GPS: 32°42’31.9”South / 28°20’30.3”East