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Closest Town: Middelburg
Grading: Easy to moderate | Duration: Depends on route chosen
Location (Area/Province): Mpumalanga and Western Mpumalanga
Configuration: Three circuits - 12km, 35km and 60km
Start Point: Botshabelo Nature Reserve
Access: Gate fee payable
Beware of: Some of the routes are shared with game-viewing motorists
Facilities: Self catering accommodation and caravan and camp site.
Cell Reception: Intermittent
Premium and Curated Trails Only
Botshabelo is nestled in a valley cut by the Klein Olifants River. The name means ‘place of shelter’ and was started way back in 1865 as a mission station. It was bought by the Middelburg Municipality in 1972. They started to restore the property and transformed it into a small nature reserve with some plains game. Cyclists use single-track and dirt roads to explore the reserve.
On your bike
Botshabelo trail (12 km) :
It is easy cycling on the hard compacted sand while low grassland affords good views over the lush green rolling hills and valleys. The road loops onto the ridge above the mission to a stone-walled fort. Fort Merensky was built in 1865 to protect the mission settlement from attacks by Chief Sekukuni. It has subsequently been restored and visitors are allowed to clamber over its dry stone walls and defensive tower. After visiting the fort, follow the road back the way you came, before branching left onto a smaller track leading to the top of the hill.
This track forms the main game loop and you can follow it back down the hill catching air over some great irrigation bumps and humps.
Little elephant Trail (35 to 60 km) :
Mountain bikers wanting a more challenging ride may park and ride from Botshabelo on some thrilling singletrack out through the Defence Force training farm, Doornkop, and over the Little Elephant river. This ride can be extended to about 60 km if the Cycad hiking trail is incorporated. Cycle up and down beautiful valleys with spectacular views of the Olifants River, with the possibility of chance encounters with indigenous game.
Off the bike
There’s plenty to keep non-cyclists and the little ones happy while you are out riding, for instance – horse rides, a river for swimming, shady picnic spots and a Southern Ndebele cultural village.