Mountain biking continues to evolve in South Africa with more places to ride than ever before. This is our top 5 hit list for 2023.
There were plenty of amazing places that we got to see and things we got to do in 2022 but there is always more to explore! There are a few locations and experiences that we have had our eyes on over the last while and are eager to pull the trigger on in 2023. These are our top 5 places in South Africa that we are excited to ride in 2023!
The Wild Boar trail network in Wellington is proper big mountain riding and in 2023 they are taking it up a notch! This location might be familiar to you as one frequented by the ABSA Cape Epic or the home of the Imbuko Big 5, arguably South Africa’s toughest single stage marathon race.
The enormous forested slopes of the Hawequas mountains are prime for breathtaking climbs and descents and they have recently added an absolutely incredible looking piece of trail that winds its way up to the highest peaks before beginning a spectacular descent back down to the valley floor. Rumour has it the trail will be open to ride in late January 2023. What we do know is that it will be included in the 2023 Imbuko Big 5 Mountain Bike Challenge on 18 Feb. We are itching to ride it!
More big mountains! Could you even imagine a more dramatic place to ride in South Africa than under the tallest peaks in the country? While we have spent some time on our bikes in the area in the past, we haven’t yet been able to really sink our teeth into what’s out there.
The locations that have caught our eye are the All Out Adventures trails in the Northern Berg and the Cathkin Trails that regularly host KZN Enduro events. From what we have seen the trails look to be more about smooth flow through the Berg’s beautiful foothills rather than steep gnar, suitable for a wide range of abilities. We are keen to check them out!
Back in the Western Cape and also on the fun and flowy side of things is the MTO Trail Network in Plettenberg Bay. This is a project that has been coming to life over the last few years and the feedback is really positive! We’ve been told that the corners have been shaped perfectly and the gradient is just right so that you’re barely touching your brakes on the way down but not needing to pedal for speed much either. They sound like a hang of a lot of fun to hit with a good crew and we’ve got them on our 2023 list!
This one has had our attention for a while and we are adamant to make it happen in 2023. The Nedbank Tour de Tuli is a 5 day mountain biking safari experience through Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa in the Tuli Block on Botswana’s Eastern border.
The experience is all about world class hospitality mixed with the tranquility of the African bush. Incredible game sightings from the bike are a regular occurrence and the July weather promises spectacular African sunsets in the untouched wilderness. The pace is much more “tour” than “race” over the distances of 60 – 80 km per day.
Something a little more gnarly. The Hartebeespoort Cableway and Iron Throne Trail Park are South Africa’s only lift assisted trails. With 400m of vertical exposure and several highly technical descending trails to choose from, this is definitely one we want to check out!
The Iron Throne Trail Park has played host to SA Downhill and Enduro events as well as a national XCO. The terrain is rugged and unforgiving making these descents properly challenging affairs. The hype has piqued our interest and hopefully this will be the year we get to go and see what it’s all about!
While we love time on our bikes, we are also fans of a good trail run. You can check out our top 5 trails to run in 2023 here.