Closest Town: Port Elizabeth
Grading: Moderate to difficult | Duration: Around 3 hours
Location (Area/Province): Eastern Cape and Western Region
Start Point: Corobrik factory
Access: Public access
Facilities: No accommodation or ablutions in the reserve, Tamapa Lodge offers outstanding accommodation (041) 466 1073.
Cell Reception: Yes
This circular 22 km route starts at the Corobrik factory on the northern bank of the Swartkops River, adjacent to the Bramlin-Markman Highway. The trail traverses the 850 ha Swartkops Valley Nature Reserve passing through dense valley and bushveld vegetation featuring a number of bird breeding colonies and fossil-rich, calcareous sandstone terrain.
On your bike
Follow the blue arrows along the river, crossing the Motherwell stormwater canal into the reserve and onto the jeep track along the base of the escarpment. The route then climbs along a kloof and onto a section of singletrack bombing along the plateau through valley bushveld dominated by succulents and tall aloes. Look out for vervet monkeys, Cape grysbok and the rare blue duiker.
Take care along the steep descent below the second set of power lines and crank into a taxing climb back up the escarpment. Follow the reserve boundary, partially on singletrack, before turning down the pipeline servitude, a steep and technical descent back to the valley floor. From here the return route follows the river to where the freshwater reeds give way to steep sandy banks in the saline estuary. The trail rejoins the jeep track for the journey back to the Brickfields.
Preferably ride in a group for safety reasons. Always take water, wear a helmet and carry a puncture repair kit, spare tube, pump and small took kit.
Off the bike
Forty kilometres of golden beaches and 18 km of navigable water on the Swartkops River makes PE the watersports playground of South Africa. The scuba diving and angling opportunities in particular are first-rate. Land-based attractions include golf courses, sporting events, ecotourism and adventure activities and numerous nature reserves and game parks in and around the city.
PE is the gateway to more than a million hectares of malaria-free game reserves, some less than an hour’s drive from the city centre. Museums and art galleries, township tours and a ride on the Apple Express steam train are less energetic excursions on offer. This city with its vibrant night life, complete with casino, will keep you busy night and day.
Route information: Swartkops Valley Nature Reserve
Telephone: 041 582 2575
GPS: 33°48′54.1″S 025°34′15.8″E