7 Days unforgettable MTB Experiences

Overview

7 day trip for the ultimate South African experience, cycle in the morning, visit an iconic South African venue in the afternoon and enjoy South African friendly and quality cuisines! A holiday experience that you will never forget!

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Day 1: Helderberg Mountain Bike Trails

Set on a private farm within the foothills of the Helderberg Mountains (half-way between Somerset West and Stellenbosch), the newly re-done Helderberg Trails prides themselves on providing a trail destination suited to every type of rider, no matter age, skill level, type of bike, or level of fitness. The Helderberg Farm Trail offers superb views over False Bay, Table Mountain and the Stellenbosch vineyards. This in itself should be enough to motivate you to ascend the moderate climbs and zoom the downhills and flat sections.

There are four individual loops: a 4km GREEN Loop (70m ascent); a 6km BLUE Loop (150m ascent); the 14km RED Loop (500m ascent); and finally the 17km BLACK Loop (700m ascent). One thing is for sure, you will never get bored. Helderberg Trails also offer some epic Enduro lines, as well as a world-class Downhill Track. 

Day 2: Paul Cluver and Oak Valley MTB trails

Following the “warm up” trail of yesterday we will ride two iconic  mountain bike trails on day two.

  • Paul Cluver

Visitors to Paul Cluver Estate are in for a treat. The Elgin Valley boasts what locals like to call a ‘benevolent’ climate. There is a hint of the European summer for much of the year, with little wind and most of the foulness of winter confined to July to August. The venue has seen a complete overhaul of the mountain biking trails. Bermed ‘barrel bridges, sweeping single-track, river crossings and gravel roads linking all of the above make for a kick-ass ride.

The best way to get to know the trails are to start (and finish) at The Amphitheater. The Short Red is 8km – Start at Amphitheatre and ride to the Skaapsteker turn off, turn right and cross over the Olifants Dam wall before returning to the start. The Blue Route is 12km – Start at the Amphitheatre and ride to the Skaapsteker turn off, turn right and cross the Olifants Dam wall. Turn left here to meander through the orchard hills before returning to the Amphitheatre. The Long Red is 30km – Start at the Amphitheatre and continue to Skaapsteker turn off; keep going straight along Jeep tracks and the Switch-Backs and on to Gordon’s Kitchen is a perfect stop-over for refreshments, before taking on the Switch-Backs and Thandi Loop once again on your way back to the finish. The Black is 44km) – Start of exactly as per the Long Red Route, but at the Saaldam turnoff, takea left via a dam, valley and hill to finally turn back onto the Long Red route for the crank home.

  • Oak Valley MTB Park

Riding the superb Oak Valley trails will make you happy, and the more you ride them, the happier you are likely to be. Built by late wine maker Pieter Vis­ser, this network of routes is a true MTB gem that rates near the very top of most mountain bikers’ bucket lists.

Your adventure kicks off on single­track that gently meanders along the course of a small stream through a forest of oak trees. Fence lines are crossed by riding over wooden bridges designed to allow riders to gain easy access, yet keep the cows in their place. Follow the Red arrows and just keep on riding the singletrack, and riding and riding. Re­member to breathe and enjoy the views. The course will take you up a couple of hills, but nothing that will overly tax a moderately fit rider. Suck them up, as after every uphill there is even more sublime trail. In fact, Oak Valley could just as well be renamed Narnia, because every hill and corner hides yet another undiscovered visual and riding treat.

Once you get to the trail around the large dam you will see some arrows that lead onto the Black route. If you are feel­ing adventurous, follow them as they all loop back to the Red trail, and all of the Black trails are rideable by the average rider – they just have some steeper climbs in them. Continue to the top of the hill at the 13.5km mark, then look at your riding companions and say in an authoritative voice, ‘If you think that section of the trail was amazing, you ain’t seen noth­ing yet.’ You’d be right, as the best bits are still to come … What follows from the top of this hill is very difficult to put into words, because if you haven’t ridden it, the adjectives will seem clichéd. Yes, it is epic, and it is awesome and it flows and swoops and drops and bombs along the course of the river. It is, in summary, everything you ever wanted in a trail ride, and it is all yours for the next 6km of MTB debauchery.

The bottom of the singletrack takes you into a gentle scenic ride through an oak forest and back to the finish area. Here you can clean up with a shower in the well-appointed ablutions before you head back into the ‘real’ world. 

Day 3: Bottelary Hills Conservancy

The Bottelary Hills MTB route runs over 20 farms in the Bottelary Hills Renosterveld Conservancy area just outside Stellenbosch. Funds from the MTB route are used to fund the conservancy. Starting at The Only One Restaurant on Bottelary Road.

From the start, follow the pink arrows that mark the trail, and ride towards Table Mountain in the distance. Ride past the cellar until you get to a brick road and turn left to the top where you will see markers for both the Orange and Red routes

For the Red route, turn left and meander from farm to farm on undulating jeep track amid rolling hills. There are some challenging climbs and lots of off-camber turns on loose surfaces, but only 1.5km of singletrack at the very top of the Red route. Along the way are various coloured options that will add distance to the ride (Yellow 10km, Blue 6km, Green 13km, and Orange 9km). Toward the end of the Red route, it merges with Orange to take you home.The hallmark of the trails is the scenic beauty and incredible views of the Winelands, Table Mountain, False Bay and other surrounding areas.

The Red Route is the "Main Route" 18.5km with 600m of climbing – renosterveld, farm and vineyard paths. The Yellow Loop
is 6.3km with 290m of climbing, or an easier 4km option with 230m of climbing. It has • three very steep hike-a-bike sections
mostly jeeptrack through renosterveld. The Green Loop is 12km with 350m of climbing jeeptrack through renosterveld and vineyard paths and a few single track sections. The Orange Loop is 9km with 160m of climbing and • ideal for beginners and the "not-so-fit" with jeeptrack and farm roads through vineyards

Day 4: Jonkershoek MTB Trails

The Jonkershoek MTB Trail is based in a around a 10km gravel road loop traversing the valley floor in an anti-clockwise direction.

From the gate, follow the gravel road for 400m until you see a building on your left hand side, turn left toward this and almost immediately you will see the Lower Canary trail on the right. This is the start of your climb, but fortunately it is a rather fun ascent starting on smooth single-track before passing through a few rock garden sections.

Pedal higher and higher, crossing two jeep-tracks on the way; the third jeep-track signals the top. Turn right here and continue on the gravel road, fork right at 7.5km and continue around. Hang a left at 8.3km and ride till you can go no further, and turn around. After 400m, take the fork to the right and keep straight. Keep right at the junction you will find at 11km and continue the gentle ascent along the contour path.

At 17.5km, turn left onto the main jeep-track and continue until almost exactly 20km, where you’ll find yourself back at the top of the Canary trails. You don’t need us to tell you what to do from here, let alone what to expect. So, deep breaths, eyes open, attack!! See you back at the start.

Day 5: Welvanpas and Paarl Rock MTB Trails

Following two “rest” days on the Bottelary and Jonkershoek trails, we will once again tackle iconic mountain bike trails in one day.

  • Welvanpas

Many mountain bike routes in the Cape claim to have the most amazing variety of routes, sublime single-track and a rich historic heritage. At Welvanpas you get exactly what is advertised.

The routes all start and end at Welvanpas farm which is nestled between the beautiful Hawekwa and Groenberg mountain ranges near Wellington. The trails are mainly on single-track, winding through orchards, vineyards, pristine fynbos and past stunning waterfalls. The trails will take you up high onto Groenberg, before descending back down to the Kromme River. You’ll have options between challenging and very steep sections or their (equally) challenging chicken runs.

The Yellow Route is 17km and a mere 400m ascent. Many small mountain streams crossings and a section through a pine plantation and a single-track party all over the side of the mountain. Every ounce of sweat and discomfort that you experienced on the way up will be forgotten as you crest the hill and charge over the top. No matter, if you ride it slowly or like a war hero, the trail will reward you with a ride to live in your memory for years to come.

On the way down the trail there are a couple of steep sections and a rocky drop off, but nothing too scary. You do need to be aware that the surface has lots of tiny stones over a hard base, so it can be quite slippery at times. 8km of almost nonstop single-track takes you, via some flat farmlands, back to the finish or, you can lookout for the world-famous Black Route extension to the Yellow Route and make it last longer! This 27km route has exhilarating single-track sections in the pine forest above Bainskloof and their names, Point Break, Route 66, Angel’s Tears, Heaven’s Gate, Super G and The Full Monty, will give you an idea of what to expect!! With a similar finish to the Yellow (17km), it ensures you’ll still enjoy the thrill of Cool Runnings and Cool Runnings Too, coming down the Bainskloof Road. For a less strenuous ride there is a 29km White Route that has amazing single-track, but with less climbing, while family groups with children may like to ride the more sedate 15km Blue Route.

  • Paarl Rock

The Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve, with its giant granite boulders dating back more than 500 million years, provides a spectacular backdrop to this enjoyable MTB ride. Leisure cruising on good dirt roads with a gentle gradient makes this trail suitable for the whole family.

Starting at the entrance to the Paarl Nature Reserve, various options from 4km to 20km are on offer providing leisurely riding on good dirt roads with a gentle gradient. Various circular loops offer great views of the Boland mountains and across False Bay towards Cape Point in the distance. The trail takes you right up to the Afrikaanse Taal Monument, the Victoria Dam and Paarl Rock. In winter, the waterfalls are pumping and the dams full, but expect the roads to be dusty on dry summer days

Day 6: Boschendal

With single track by Bennett Nel expect some sweet riding. The world class black route is proving to be a hit with intermediate to advanced riders, but they do have routes to suit families and casual riders.

There are 3 marked routes: a 12km easy Blue Route (250m elevation) ; a 15km (400m Elevation) Red Route for stronger riders; and the 23 km (650m elevation) Black Route for more advanced riders.

Highlights include Sugar Bowl and Porcupine the very sweet downhill sections, Inferno the 3km downhill single track through the forested slopes of the Simonsberg and the testing Big Bunny ascent.

The marked trails consist of a large percentage of well-maintained single track, mountainside jeep track and some farm road. Riders are welcome to make use of the 30 to 40 km’s of unmarked tracks and farm road to create their own circuits and longer rides.

Day 7: Meerendal MTB Trails

The trails at Meerendal Wine Farm are easy singletrack riding, and the flat landscape makes them perfect for those in search of some endurance training, too, 

Start at the wine farm buildings along a track meandering gently uphill before it descends onto the first stretch of singletrack down the ‘Mineshaft’ and across a small plateau. Then climb the zigzag ‘Stairway to Heaven’, while having great fun attempt­ing to stay on the concrete slabs. The climb is short and not too brutal; after cresting, continue along the flat for a fur­ther 150m, then follow the Blue arrows to your left and ride up Dorstberg. This is an average climb with some sharp turns.

At the top you can expect some serious fun. The trail is beautifully carved, with berms and small jumps down the side of Dorstberg. Halfway down you have three route choices around a big rock drop-off and then continue on the singletrack until you find yourself back at the top of ‘Stairway to Heaven’.

Keeping straight at the bottom of Dorst­berg the singletrack is flat and even, requiring constant pedalling to keep momentum. Follow the signs and trail around the vineyards for another 3km, until you come to a fast downhill jeep track before you enter the last singletrack of the Gum Tree Loop.Exit the Gum Tree Loop and turn left into a series of bends through fields and vineyards. Cross a small wooden bridge, and ride around the scenic farm dam, over another wooden bridge and eventu­ally back into the parking area.

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