Closest Town: Pilgrims Rest
Grading: Mostly moderate but depends on trail chosen | Duration: Varies
Location (Area/Province): Highlands & Lowveld and Mpumalanga
Configuration: Depends on the route chosen
Start Point: Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge
Access: For guests of Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge only. Forested areas near the resort are all private property. Permission to cycle in the forests must be specially arranged.
Beware of: Take some warm clothes as it can get cold and wet, even in mid summer.
Facilities: Luxury Lodge.
Cell Reception: No
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Dramatically situated on top of the escarpment, the 5,000-ha Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge is a malaria-free resort and a popular venue among cyclists, with plenty of wildlife to be seen, including zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, antelope, jackal and leopard. Take some warm clothes as it can get cold and wet, even in mid-summer.
On your bike
Launching off the escarpment you can take a number of routes through the forestry on the property. All routes are on jeep tracks used for game-viewing drives.
The exhilarating 16km ride, with an altitude drop of 800m down to the old farm house, is recommended. The climb back out is along the same route or via the 4×4 trail and is quite steep.
South Africa’s first tour de France cyclist, Robert Hunter, and the SA cycling team have done some clandestine off-season training in this area. The 150km Three Pass route, which is revered by hardcore road cyclists, descends from Crystal springs through Pilgrim’s Rest and up the short, steep pass to Graskop. Turning right to Sabie, prepare for the aptly-named Long Tom Pass and the radical descent into Lydenburg. Return to Crystal Springs via the Orighstad road and Robbers Pass.
Off the bike
For the incurably active, Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge offers game drives in open vehicles, mini-golf, squash, tennis and a hiking trail. Outdoor and indoor heated swimming pools. Restaurant and pub. Children’s playground. Games room. Adults’ clubhouse. Gym, beauty salon and spa facilities. Conferencing for 40 delegates. Bike hire.
Route information: Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge
Address: PO Box 10, Pilgrim’s Rest, 1290
Telephone: (013) 768 5000