First there was extreme hiking for the adventurous visitors of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. Now, those who dare can swop their two feet or car for two wheels as mountain biking now form part of the activities to keep the energetic busy.
This development, says former park manager Nick De Goede, places the park more firmly on the map as an adventure tourism destination. It is a great addition to the existing Venstervalle hiking trail and the soon to be launched Desert Kayak Trails on the Orange River. More people are choosing adventures as part of holiday options.
The new routes stretch over 35 and 40km respectively but are definitely not for the faint hearted or those that seek a relaxing ride into the sunset. The rocky, desert landscape should in fact only be tackled early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the scorching temperatures.
Because of the extremity of the activity, these tracks even come with warning signs. The tricky, more dangerous parts are indicated with exclamation marks. De Goede says that a lot of the sections are quite technical, so sometimes it is easier to walk while enjoying the beautiful scenery. Relative fitness levels are required to complete the tracks.
There are two options to choose from…
The trail between the De Hoop campsite and Hakiesdoring trail camp covers 35km while a 40km circle route from Sendelingsdrift to the gate will take cyclists past the back of Vyf Susters, a prominent series of five mountains. Cars can be left at the marked starting points.
The cycling tracks were a logical addition to the activities offered in the park. Extreme athletes that partake in the Desert Knights MTB Challenge cycle through these sections of the park, so paths already existed. Now that the tracks are demarcated, they are a definite must for any adventure cyclist. Apart from the spectacular landscapes and vistas of the Richtersveld, the plant life is extremely diverse and game such as klipspringers, springbuck and oryx may be spotted along the way.
The tracks are free to use, apart of course from the daily conservation fee (R70 for adults and R35 for children if they are South African citizens) payable when you enter the park. It is essential to bring your own bicycle, spare parts and enough water.
Written by René de Klerk – SANParks Times Reporter
Content courtesy of SANParks Times: www.sanparkstimes.co.za