I pick up some speed going downhill towards a small stream of crystal clear waters. The all-terrain tires of my mountain bike on the wooden bridge break the silence followed up by the swift change of gears as I pedal hard to get up the steep single track ahead of me. I slalom my way up amongst blooming protea trees that add some bright orange and red colours to the green slopes of the Northern Drakensberg that we are exploring by mountain bike.
Chris, cofounder of All Out Adventures and a passionate mountain biker created over 150 kilometres of mountain biking trails in this area. The setting is simply splendid. The winding single tracks go down fast through the rolling hills of green grass, eventually crossing a stream. In the background, the dragon-like ragged mountain ridge of the Northern Drakensberg contrasts with the deep blue of the South African sky. The hills on which we must push a few cows out of the way soon become mountains as we approach the Amphitheatre (or wall of spears as the Zulus call it) from which world’s second highest waterfall drops. The single track goes from land to land thanks to ingeniously built bridges going up and down the barb wires. Discreetly built resorts provide welcome water refills as we are ascending the rocky track. A mountain reedbuck seeks safety on higher terrain as the view opens up on glorious mountains surrounding us. On its opposite slope, the well-marked bright red single track sticks out among the green.
A few technical downhill rocky parts add some thrill to the ride as we are about to complete our 30-kilometre loop. If the setting is as magnificent, this side of the hill, along the Tugela River, still looks very different than the part around the secluded luxurious lodges on the Montusi side. As we arrive back at All Out Adventures, Loretta, the other co-founder, who was born and raised here explains: “These are the remnants of the apartheid. When Mandela got elected, there was no money left to improve all of the townships that were built to separate black people from the white. The village has only recently been connected to the power grid but homes still don’t have running water.”
Beyond the thrilling and stunning mountain biking adventure in this off the beaten path Northern Drakensberg, initiatives such as All Out Adventures create opportunities for locals and are heavily involved in giving back to thecommunities. All the more reasons to explore this mountain biking paradise!
- Excellent and well maintained mountain bikes are available for hire at All Out Adventures from where all trails start.
- To ride these awesome trails, ranging from easy green to blue, red and challenging black, you just need to buy the inexpensive trail permit at All Out Adventures that supports trail maintenance.
- We are happy to warmly recommend Montusi Lodge located only 3 kilometres from the trailheads to stay in this stunning area, explore the Northern Drakensberg and recover from the adventures of the day comfortably! Designed to blend in with the natural environment, its private trails are interesting to hike to discover Bushmen cave paintings, amazing viewpoints and waterfalls. The Montusi Lodge supports local communities funding education, promoting local initiatives by buying local, and employing staff from the nearby community.
- Check out this interactive map for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area! Here is a short tutorial to download it.