South Africa cycling holiday, Drakensberg and Kruger

“Our only cycle trip to combine the spectacular wildlife of Kruger with the stunning scenery of South Africa's highest mountains - true pedalling perfection! ”

Highlights

Mountain pass in North Drakensberg | Hiking & cycling in Northern Berg | Dundee | Rorke's Drift Museum | Badplaas | Songimvelo Game Reserve | Kruger National Park | Mac Mac Falls | Panorama route to God's Window | Blyde River Canyon | Opportunities for waterfall swimming

Description of South Africa cycling holiday, Drakensberg and Kruger

What a start to this two week South Africa cycling holiday, setting up your bikes in Golden Gate Highlands National Park – a perfect portal to a fortnight of South African stunning scenery from your saddle. Cycling on roads through the national park you will have a chance to spot wildlife, including zebra along a mountain pass that you descend. Stopping for photos en route of course. We take a transfer to the Drakensburg Mountains, with a back on the bikes moment to cycle down the Oliviers Hoek pass. Such is the way of this cycling odyssey, using transfers when necessary, but back in the saddle for ‘must rides’. Examples of these include cycling through the Royal Natal National Park in the Northern Berg, along a road that runs between the Songimvelo Game Reserve and the foothills Hlumu Mountains where Vervet monkeys watch us pedalling past. The magnficent Kaap River Valley is another not to be missed cycle.

We leave our bikes in the van for a couple of days while we enjoy several game drives in the world famous Kruger National Park, as well as the optional extra of a night time safari. Kruger is the biggest gem in South Africa’s weighty wildlife bedecked crown, with over 19km² of biodiverse landscapes, habitats for lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, rhinoceros as well as over 500 species of bird.

A couple of challenging but superb cycling routes bring this holiday to a wonderful finale, taking on a climb up Mac Mac Falls, with a cooling off dip and picnic to revive us, and then on to Graskop, a small forestry town with some of the country’s biggest views. Located at 1,400 m above sea level on the edge of the Drakensberg escarpment, you can take in views of the Mpumalanga region all around. Our last day of cycling is through the scenic wonderland aptly named God's Window, and the extraordinarily beautiful Bourke's Luck Potholes, where the Treur and Blyde Rivers have eroded dramatic cylindrical potholes in the sandstone bedrock. The Blyde River has also formed the eponymous canyon which we get to explore before taking our final transfer back to Johannesburg.

This South Africa cycling holiday includes eight full days of cycling, always with vehicle support of course, and most of the cycling is on paved roads, with about twenty per cent on dirt roads. There are a few muscle pushing climbs, although it is categorised as a moderate to challenging trip, with plenty of rest time built into this varied itinerary. Accommodation is in locally owned lodges as well as tented camps during your time at Kruger National park.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

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Our top tip:
Bring layers that you can pull on and off easily for the warm sunny days and freezing cold nights!
Trip type:
Small group, max 16. Min age 16.
Activity level:
Moderate/challenging. 30-70km and 2-5hrs cycling per day.
Accomm:
9 nights lodge, 2 nights permamant tented camp.
Solos:
Solo travellers welcome. Single rooms available with surcharge.
Included:
Accomm., transport, tour leader, support vehicle, intl. flights if booked. Bike hire not included (cost from £160/day)
Meals:
11 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 6 dinners
Vouchers
Accepted
Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: South Africa cycling holiday, Drakensberg and Kruger

Environment

Activity:
Few holidays have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a cycling trekking trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints (or tyre tracks!) although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants and use markets to purchase traditional handicrafts. By visiting Kruger National Park, we are supporting conservation efforts here as our entrance fees go towards environmental protection and employment of local people.

Water:
Water is a really important issue with cycling trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. Lack of recycling is already a massive problem in Africa so we suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle. We carry a very large container of treated water in our support vehicle to facilitate this.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Community

Accommodation & Meals:
You will spend nights most nights in lodges and 2 nights full service camping. We predominantly use small businesses for accommodation in order to keep investment local and benefit the communities we visit directly. Campsites used are either locally owned, or a percentage of their income goes towards, schooling, or nature conservation & community projects. We strive to always leave a campsite in a better condition than when we arrived and to use gas whilst cooking instead of using limited firewood resources. Almost all meals are provided and your local tour leader will endeavour to source fresh produce wherever possible. Meals might include fresh fruit, cold meats and cheese, potjies (stew) or braais (barbecue) etc.

Local Crafts and Culture:
We stop at a number of cottage industries along the route of this trip, where clients have a chance to buy locally made products directly from the vendors. These are found along the panoramic route in Mpumalanga and are endorsed by the regional council and have been provided with structures to sell their products from. Guides will be able to advise which products to avoid and which to purchase e.g. large items made from local hard wood encourage deforestation, so we discourage this. We also stop at Stellenbosch, to see the local vineyards and sample the locally produced wine which makes this area so well known. This is a good chance to support communities in this area by buying souvenirs.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise on the wildlife, environment and culture that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on Responsible Tourism issues to help you understand how you can help reduce your impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from your visit. By supporting and employing these people we are helping to ensure that their wildlife areas, scenic beauty and historical significance generate value for the community and are therefore appreciated and protected from development and exploitation. Particularly with wildlife tours, proper employment conditionals are a great way to motivate locals to be part of sustainable, ethical activity rather than illegal alternatives, like poaching.

Charity:
We support the Save Our Sausage Trees initiative in Botswana, which aims to address the issue of depleting forests in the area. The Mokoro is a boat used by the people of the Okavango Delta and it is crafted traditionally out of a single mature Kigelia Africana tree (or sausage tree). Although increased tourism has had some obvious benefits to the area, this has also brought a higher demand for Mokoro boats and therefore more trees are being cut down. As a wooden Mokoro only lasts about 5 years, there are hundreds of these trees being felled per year and not enough to sustain this. We have consulted with the Okovango community, and we have agreed to pay half the price of a fibreglass Mokoro if a poler wants to purchase the other half, in order to save the trees.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

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