Closest Town: Potgietersrus
Grading: Easy to Difficult | Duration: Depends on route and distance
Location (Area/Province): Bushveld Region and Limpopo
Configuration: 2 networks; 200km plus
Start Point: Thabaphaswa Homestead
Access: Private property, guests only. The farm is fully fenced and access is controlled so parking and riding should both be safe.
Beware of: Mosquitoes and ticks
Facilities: Ablutions (open-air, reed-enclosed showers and toilets), several accommodation options
Cell Reception: Intermittent, none at camps
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If you are not Sotho, “Thabaphaswa” may be something of an enigmatic tongue twister, so break it down and it will make more sense; Thaba means mountain, Phaswa refers to Nguni cattle. Put them together and visit the place and you will see why the shadows and highlights on the rocks of the mountains are reminiscent of markings on the farm’s rare Nguni cattle. Domed granite mountains endemic to the area are reminiscent of the Matobos near Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. Thabaphaswa Mountain is an important landmark to all the peoples of this area, and for centuries travelers and traders have used it to get their bearings.
On your bike
Thanks to the geology, Thabaphaswa has very scenic and some rather challenging trails on dirt tracks, cattle paths and singletrack. The riding is basically along a core circuit route with optional diversions off the beaten track. Enjoy exciting single and jeep track up challenging kloofs and through gaps between the granite outcrops that cover the farm. The main route is about 7 km in length and perfect for enjoying a mellow, late afternoon ride with the family. Although it is not a technical ride, there is enough sand, gravel and rocks to make it the ideal route to introduce casual cyclists to off-road riding. Since the farm is fully fenced you cannot get completely lost and the map provided by the Richters gives ample directions and indicators of where to go and where to turn back home. In addition, all 95 km of hiking and biking trails are beautifully signposted.
None of the wild game that you may encounter here was introduced. In line with the commitment to a genuine ecotourism experience, what you see is what has always been here.
For a more challenging 40 km return ride, use the railway servitude road from Thabaphaswa to the Percy Fyfe entrance gate. Add another 20 km if you include a circuit inside the reserve.
Off the bike
Makapansgat, just 11.5 km north of Mokopane (Potgietersrus), consists of huge limestone caves that have yielded some of the oldest hominid remains ever known, dating back 3.3 million years. Makapansgat may be viewed by appointment only. The old “Klipskool” or Stone School in Mokopane is now home to the Arend Dieperink Museum where exhibits of multicultural artifacts from the Limpopo province are on display. Also of interest in Mokopane is the National Zoological Gardens, a game-breeding centre with a walk-in aviary and cheetah breeding centre. Round off your visit with a picnic in the garden’s grounds and a game drive.
Telephone: +27 (0)15 491 4882
GPS: 24° 03.833’ South / 29° 02.914’ East