Mountain Bike Trails in Groot Marico

Draaifontein Riverbend Farm MTB Trails

Welcome to the world of Oom Schalk Lourens, arguably one of South Africa’s best-known mythical literary anti-heroes. If you’ve read about this veldskoen-wearing character with his larger-than-life mampoer habit, Groot Marico (less than 2hrs from Gauteng) will certainly be a worthy weekend destination. 

©Jacques Marais

Magnificent Bosveld sunsets and rural tranquillity comes as part and parcel with any visit to this little dorp on the Botswana border, a place seemingly forgotten by time. Mountain bikers will perk up when they hear that the area offers some of SA’s best technical riding during annual MTB races such as the Marico Mountain Bike Classic (August) and the Marico Bosveld Mile Festival, in September.

One of the venues for these events is the farm Draaifontein, a spreading bush veldt estate of more than 3.000 ha, with meandering rivers, rugged mountains and the spectacular Langkloof. Situated just 28 km from the quirkiness that is Groot Marico, and thick green bushveld vegetation clustered like green veins along perennial watercourses will immediately differentiate the immediate area from the surrounding, bare-topped Highveld hills. You had better be sure to bring your mountain bike, because a rambunctious network of gravel farm tracks and footpaths are just begging to be explored.

Draaifontein's Main Circuit

©Jacques Marais

The actual route grading varies from intermediate to extreme, but anyone looking to crank some easy miles will have never-ending gravel district roads and farm tracks to ride throughout the area. Draaifontein’s main circuit measures 28 km, but can be extended with an additional loop if you want to super-size your workout.

Much of the routes are along man-made and natural single-track, but with some jeep track heaven through rocky and technical terrain in places. There is no way around the steep climbs, so sometimes you’ll have to return the favour and carry your bike. It’s a good idea to warm-up before setting off from the homestead as the ride goes straight into a 800 m-long climb with a gradient that is often over 1-in-4. Once this done, take time to catch your breath and enjoy the anticipation the off-road treat ahead.

As you continue your crank, beautiful kloofs, dense savannah woodland and challenging water crossings await against a backdrop of rugged, rolling hills. Get lost within the valley, where you will be swallowed up by the welcome shade of the verdant riverine vegetation. Stick to the roughshod jeep track to blast again and again through nearly a dozen water crossing (you’ll probably need the cooling off).

Round about now you can decide to either head home or tackle the second loop… Keep in mind that the winter nights get icy, but that there will be some genuine Groot Marico mampoer to keep you warm and cosy around the fire! Riverbend Guest Farm is 28 km from Groot Marico. Follow the N4 out of Groot Marico towards Zeerust for approximately 7 km before turning left onto the D404 towards Lichtenburg. After about 10 km, take the D1283 that splits off to the left.

After another 8km, turn left again onto the D2085 and drive for approximately 2 km to the farm. It would probably be best to avoid cycling here in the middle of summer. In October, the annual Herman Charles Bosman Weekend’s festivities are perfect for Oom Schalk Lourens fans while the challenging Bosveld Mile in September and the Marico MTB Classic in August will tempt those wanting to crank ‘against’ the locals.

Macolebi MTB Tours

©Jacques Marais

Maybe it’s something in the air, or the earthy attitude of the people, or the heavenly bushveld sunsets… Or maybe it is a combo of all the above that makes Groot Marico such a unique African dorp. Macolebi is a pecan nut and citrus estate outside town along the beautiful Groot Marico River, one of the only perennial rivers in this part of the country. Mountain bikers are free to explore the estate’s MTB trail and the surrounding farm roads in search of wildlife.

The real deal, however, is to join owner Colin on one of his incredible mountain biking tours to explore the back roads and tracks of the North West. These adventurous affairs are completely custom made to suit you and your group. Follow the N4 from Rustenburg towards Zeerust. The turnoff to Macolebi is after the Swartruggens toll, only about 4 km before you reach the town of Groot Marico.

It is a great year-round escape, though summer tends towards very hot. Come in October to join in the Bosman Weekend Festivities or September for the challenging Bosveld Mile.

By Jacques Marais

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