Popular MTB Routes

Quick Guide

©Jacques Marais
©Jacques Marais

Because there are so many mountain biking routes in South Africa, it’s hard to narrow it down. Each of the 9 provinces has trails that offer something different, whether it be an easy ride, or advanced terrain crunching. Starting with the biggest and more popular towns of the country, here is a quick guide to MTB routes you simply cannot miss:

In the Mother City of Cape Town, there are a wide variety of single-track routes to choose from. Areas include the Cape Winelands, which is a beautiful ride through wine farms and hilly terrain; Table Mountain, a rocky escape into the fynbos biome; and family-fun rides along the extensive coast of the Cape Peninsula. 

The Cape South Coast trails are scenic and ideal for beginner riders - the De Hoop Nature Reserve, Harkerville and Hermanus are great options for those on a tranquil retreat, looking to take it easy. Knysna routes are specifically ethereal, taking you through the indigenous forest on the Hamtini Mountain Bike Trail. 

Port Elizabeth is home to some superb Wild Coast rides, taking you through green landscapes and rolling hills into the city. Further north, you’ll find that KwaZulu-Natal is undoubtedly MTB heaven. The Drakensberg and Midlands trails are internationally acclaimed and immensely popular, testing fitness levels and driving adrenaline junkies up intense terrains. 

Johannesburg has a big MTB community, with lots of interconnected trails throughout the region. The Free State has seriously advanced trails that are suited to the experts of the game - think hardcore cranking!

Mpumalanga and Limpopo’s routes go through natural lush scenery, while the Northern Cape offers trails that take you through the arid desert, wildflowers and rolling landscapes of the Kalahari. 

Hidden Gems

©Jacques Marais
©Jacques Marais

Although most big regions of South Africa offer great mountain biking experiences, there are a few hidden gems scattered around the country that are bound to entice any rider. 

The West Coast is host to an array of trails that range from beginner to advanced. Starting on the coastal side, riders can discover the beauty of the West Coast Fossil Park. The sandy tracks of Saldanha are definitely worth the crank, and trails through Citrusdal are a great opportunity to discover the region’s fauna and flora, leading to Cederberg trails. Riders will also find that the Klein Karoo has a lot of exciting routes to choose from. 

Hogsback in the Eastern Cape is home to lovely MTB routes with breathtaking vistas of forests, valleys and mountain ranges. Up north, the Waterberg Biosphere in Limpopo is a gorgeous crank alongside rocky cliffs, riverines and indigenous fauna. Gariep Dam in the Free State offers off-the-beaten-track trails, perfect for quiet game viewing. 

Giba Gorge in KwaZulu-Natal is a dedicated bike park that will make any biker feel like a kid in a candy store - hectares of red soil, beautiful views and uphill climbs. Waterval Boven in Mpumalanga has trails suited to all skill levels, ideal for family fun while on holiday. The Richtersveld in the Northern Cape is one of the must-do routes of SA mountain biking. It’s challenging but it’s accompanied by great views and spectacular Kalahari nature.

By Carla Lottering