The Wild Coast is ideal territory for Mountain Bikers. There are long sandy beaches, challenging single tracks and gravel roads in abundance. There are several marked routes and trails, but with so much wide open space, it's best just to explore and enjoy the scenery. Please respect the fact that you are riding through the land of the Xhosa & Pondo people, always greet and don't drop your litter or harrass their livestock.
The Imana Wild Ride
The Imana Wild Ride is South Africa's original mountain biking stage race, having begun in 2000 with a humble beginnings of thirty-five (2-man) teams. The race takes place along one of the world's most pristine and rural coastlines with an abundance of fuana, flora, marine life and breathtaking scenery against a backdrop of Xhosa customs and traditions.
The event starts at the Great Kei River; about 80km north of East London on the eastern shoreline of South Africa and finishes four days and nearly 200km later at the award winning family resort of Umngazi River Bungalows.
Due to the nature of the region and it's remoteness, it is not logistically possible to mark the route. However, teams are provided with detailed instructions on specially laminated route cards for each day's stage as well as hiker's maps of the coastline. Riders are encouraged to stay as close to the coastline as possible and although some faster route options have been discovered inland, the idea of the race is to 'race the tide' and hence – stay within the coastal strip.
Where the terrain does not allow for riding (and in some cases portaging), it may be necessary to head inland. You can be sure that you will question your direction at least once every day and more than likely get lost at some stage over the four days – but you are "Out there alone, racing the tide".
While the event affords the limited entry a unique and incomparable opportunity to cycle one of the most beautiful, unspoilt coastlines anywhere in the world - a more important aspect to the race is the relationship which has evolved between 'the riders' and the local peoples of the Wild Coast.
Together with title sponsor Imana Foods, the event organizers have worked closely with the community in building classrooms and providing improved learning facilities in an effort to make a difference to a beautiful part of the world that we are privileged to enjoy. We are proud to have built ten classrooms to date and with momentum growing on the fund-raising front, the plan is to continue to make a difference.
The 2012 IMANA Wild Ride takes place between Monday 30th July - Thursday 2nd August. website: www.wildride.co.za
Mazeppa Bay MTB Route
This route takes you back up the hill out of Mazeppa Bay and up towards the Manubi Forest. The route then heads through the middle of the forest and comes out on the other side, where cattle trails take you down to the Ngqwara river. Once across the river, head up the hill past the huts and join up with the gravel road that takes you back to the main road, and on to Mazeppa Bay.
Cwebe Nature Reserve MTB Route
The Cwebe Nature Reserve Mountain Bike route takes you in a circular path through the densely forested reserve, with a few detours to interesting sights like the Mangrove Forest at the Mbashe River mouth and the Banyane Falls. Most of the route is on very good jeep-track, with single track down to the waterfall and technical climbing on the way back up. From there it's a nice downhill through the forest to the bridge over the kuBula River. From there it's uphill again as you climb out of the forest and take an off-shoot to your right that takes you down the hill to the kuBula River Mouth. Cross the beach and ride past the holiday cottages and Lighthouse on your left until you get back to the start.
Mbotyi MTB Routes
Mbotyi has two routes that can be combined into one (see map). The first takes you through the Magwa Tea Plantation to the spectacular Magwa Falls. The second is a loop out of Mbotyi through rural villages and some awesome downhills.
1.) Ride out of Mbotyi along the main road through the Magwa Tea Plantation. Turn left after 12.5km. Cycle on for another 3.5km and take the right-hand fork in the road, which will take you all the way to Magwa Falls. Rest a while and enjoy the awesome beauty of the falls, before heading back the way you came. Make sure to pack your camera for this trip.
2.) The second route is a loop that takes you up the same hill out of Mbotyi as the first, except that here you turn off to the right after 10km. This route takes you past Angel Falls, before slowly turning through 180° and accelerating you down toward the coast on an amazing downhill. The route evens out as you pass through a village and a past radio mast, then heads downhill again as you negotiate footpaths down to the beach. From here it's across a small lagoon and back to the start.
Mkambati Mountain Bike Route
Want to explore the beauty of the Wild Coast in a reserve surrounded by Eland, Zebra, Bushbuck and Wildebeest? Then Mkambati Nature Reserve is the place to go. The reserve has great potential for mountain bikers and is made up of gravel roads, jeep-tracks and single track.
The Mkambati Nature Reserve Mountain Bike Route takes you the length of the reserve and back, with several detours and stops at interesting spots along the way. From the start, head out along the main entrance road and turn right after a short distance. Follow this road and take the next fork to the right, which will lead you down to the beach at South Sand Bluff. After a short rest to take in the view, head back up to the fork and turn right. Follow the road for almost 2km and take the jeep-track that heads straight on, where the main road curves to the right. The track takes you all the way to the Mkambati Falls where you can have a refreshing dip, before heading on to the Mtentu River mouth. Once you've taken in the view, return the way you came all the way back to where the jeep-track left the road. Turn left and follow the road down to the Gwe-Gwe Camp. Then head south along the coastal path for about 3km before turning inland to rejoin the main road back to the start.