Olifants Camp, situated high on a rocky outcrop and overlooking the Olifants River, is home to an exiting adventure activity in the Kruger National Park. Cyclists now have the opportunity to combine their cycling skills with a wilderness experience. The three mountain bike trails offered are designed to bring cyclists closer to nature than the more usual Kruger game drive experience.
Departure times for the Mountain Bike Trails must be confirmed with Olifants Camp reception as departing times and days vary depending on the season. Currently on offer is a Morning and Afternoon excursion that varies between 3 and 4 hours in time depending on the route taken. Full day trails, that takes about 7 hours, are also available.
No persons under the age of 16 years are permitted on the Mountain Bike Trails.
At this stage, 3 different routes (trails) can be done (guides determine the trail taken due to weather conditions, trail service condition (rain) and the level of fitness of all participants. If there are requests for a specific trail, then the entire 6 places must be reserved). A maximum of 6 participants can be accommodated per trail. Olifants Camp supplies the mountain bikes, backpacks, water bottles, bicycle helmets and snacks for use during the trail. The trails are graded according to the level of difficulty and technicality by a colour coding system with Green being of moderate length and terrain and Black being technically advanced and strenuous. Two fully trained and skilled field guides lead the trails. Trails should not be seen as a race, as a full bush interpretation will be done whilst on the trail, pointing out interesting nature signs and wild life sightings.
You will be transported to the start of each trail with your guides, in an open game-viewing vehicle. A dedicated and specially designed mountain bike trailer carries the bikes behind the vehicle. All safety drills and aspects regarding the trail will be demonstrated and communicated by the guides prior the trail. It is compulsory to wear cycling helmets during all Mountain Bike Trails. Indemnity forms must be completed before commencing the trail.
Hardekool Draai Trail (green rating)
The recommended trail for beginners and the not-so-experienced rider is the Hardekool Draai trail. The trail starts at Hardekool-Draai (the name originated from a huge Lead Wood tree, (Combretum imberbi), on the banks of the Olifants River) and leads through Mopane veld, with the occasional view of the Olifants River. On the route you will cross many a game path, constantly used by hippo and other general game, walking to and from the river. After about 5 km of cycling the bikes are left and a short walk down to the river will have any wildlife enthusiast excited. The guides are armed and have excellent knowledge of the area’s fauna and flora.
The trail then continues over rocky terrain, superb for mountain biking for a further 5,7 km where a small hippo path turns to the south, towards the Olifants River. There the guide will stop for you to enjoy snacks under a huge Sycamore Fig tree, overlooking grunting hippo wallowing in the Olifants River below. There are plenty of crocodile, elephant, buffalo and general game in this area. The bird life along the river is also outstanding. After snacks you cycle the 10,7km back to the game drive vehicle to end the trail.
The cycle distance of this trail is 21,4 kilometres. This is a long trail and a certain degree of fitness is necessary.
Olifants / Letaba River Confluence Trail (black rating and XXX rated)
The second trail is reached by driving from the base camp to the Vutamolelo road, north-east of Olifants Camp, which is normally not accessible to the general public. You will find the Olifants / Letaba River Confluence Trail about 10 km from Olifants camp, where the vehicle is left and the bikes are saddled.
On this route you will pass some of the best scenery in the Kruger National Park while you cycle between the Letaba River on your left and the Olifants River on your right. For 6.1km along the rocky outcrops of the region, one can expect to see various species of mammals, abundant bird life and large Baobab trees (Adasonia digitata). Enjoy your breakfast packs on the banks of these two rivers after which your armed guides will take the group on short walks along the rivers before you start the 6-km cycle back to the game drive vehicle.
The trip is very strenuous taking into account the time frame. It is compulsory to be an experienced rider if you want to enjoy this trail to it’s full potential as loose rocks and branches necessitate concentration on riding conditions. The cycle distance of this trial is 12,2 km.
Klipkoppies Mozambique Border Trail (XXX rating)
The third Mountain Bike Trail is the longest of the three trails available from Olifants camp and takes you right up to the border of Mozambique, approximately 22 km from the base camp.
Cycling starts early morning, straight into the sunrise for 9,6 km through the scenery of the Kruger National Park. At a fork in the road, the guides will lead you south-east for 2,8 km to the border between South Africa and Mozambique, where you will enjoy your snacks on a hill, overlooking the Olifants River in the distance with Mozambique to the east. At this stage the more adventurous participants are known to put a hand through the fence to touch foreign soil! The end of the trail is reached by cycling back down towards the Letaba River, enjoying the wonderful vista of unspoiled wilderness.
The cycle distance of this trail is 24,8 km. A fair level of skill and fitness is required for this Border Trail that can be extended to the Gorge to make it a full day adventure. If the latter option is chosen, reservations for all 6 participants need to be made. Please note that full day trails is only suitable for very fit and experienced cyclists.