Cycle South Africa

Resort:Cycle South Africa
Operator: Explore
Destination: Africa, South Africa
Price From: £1735.00

Over View

Cycle the rugged coastline and beautiful winelands of the Western Cape on this cycling holiday through South Africa. Ride on the side of the iconic Table Mountain and along the famous garden route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth.

Stellenbosch winelands – Cycle through stunningly beautiful vineyards and farmlands

Oudtshoorn – Freewheel down the dramatic Swartberg pass

Cape Agulhas – Cycle to the southernmost point of Africa.


Day 1 Join trip Cape Town; optional introductory ride

Arrive in the wonderful city of Cape Town. Cape Town embodies the feeling of energy and hope that South Africans feel for the future of their country – with its spectacular natural assets, modern high-tech city centre and mixed population. Cape fur seals can often be seen playfully frolicking in the harbour waters.

For those arriving on time today our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 2pm for the welcome meeting and to take us on our first bike ride. The ride will most likely be on the face of Table Mountain for spectacular views, then back to our hotel. This will be our first encounter with some of the unique and colourful flowers from the Cape Floral Kingdom, which has more indigenous plant species per square metre than anywhere else on earth.

If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you’ll need to arrive into Cape Town International Airport (CPT), which is a twenty minute drive from the hotel.

Please note that if you wish to join the bike ride today, you must be ready to leave the hotel by 2pm. If you are booking your own flights, we recommend giving yourself at least one hour to clear the airport. From the airport to the hotel is around twenty minute drive, so therefore the latest your flight can arrive is 12pm. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 12 kilometres with 200 metres total ascent (optional).

Day 2 Drive to Cape Point Nature Reserve via Hout Bay; cycle to Kommetjie, or Simon’s Town

The focus of our activities today is the area of the Cape Peninsula. The Cape of Good Hope was first seen by a European in 1488 when Diaz sailed round it on his search for a sea route to the East Indies. A century later Sir Francis Drake described it as ‘the fairest cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth’, but it was another century before the Dutch East Indies Trading Company established a permanent settlement to supply ships with cattle and water traded from the indigenous Khoi who reared livestock in the land around the coast. In Hout Bay, weather permitting, you have the option to take a boat ride to view Seal Island, where a population (7,000 approx!) of Cape Fur Seals have made their home. There might be whales or even pods of porpoises there too. From Hout Bay we drive over Chapman’s Peak to Cape Boulders beach where we get a close up view of Africa’s only resident penguin species, the African Penguin. From here we continue by bus for around one hour to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope for lunch and a chance to explore this stunning wild place. After lunch we cycle back through the Nature Reserve and head out along the Atlantic seaboard to the seaside village of Simon’s Town or Kommetjie, depending on the wind direction. Finally we drive back to our accommodation in Cape Town, with time to relax this evening.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 33 kilometres, with 250 metres total ascent.

Day 3 Drive to Stellenbosch; cycle through wine farms to Jonkershoek Reserve

An early start today enables us to walk up Table Mountain (cable car optional) before heading out of Cape Town to explore the Stellenbosch region. To the north and east of Cape Town are the Cape Winelands, whose rugged mountains rise steeply from rolling green valleys, neatly planted with vineyards and dotted with whitewashed manor houses. This is an image more reminiscent of a central European fairy tale than ‘Darkest Africa’! A settlement was first established in Stellenbosch in 1679 following the discovery of a river running through a fertile, green valley by Simon van der Stel, then Governor of the Cape. Grapes were planted in the fertile valleys and soon Stellenbosch became the centre of the wine industry. It now produces some of the finest New World wines that have been honed over several centuries by the Afrikaans wine growers. We cycle today from Lazerac to Jonkershoek Nature reserve firstly along tarmac roads and then on gravel tracks through the forest, before returning to Lanerac. After enjoying a cycle ride through the stunning scenery you may like to reward yourself by sampling some of the latest vintages with an optional wine tasting. After wine tasting we have a short drive to our hotel in Stellenbosch.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 18 kilometres, with 250 metres total ascent. There is the option to extend the cycling for another 7 kilometres (150 metres additional total ascent).

Day 4 Visit Cape Agulhas; evening at a river camp

We start early with a two and a half hour drive to the wild and dramatic Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point in Africa. Now marked by a stone plaque, the ‘Cape of Needles’ was once a point of grave danger to European navigators and is now home to the resulting shipwrecks. From here we will get on our bikes and continue towards Swellendam. The route takes in fantastic open farmland, indigenous fynbos (shrubland) and other types of vegetation. After approximately 40 kilometres on the bike we will drive to Bredasdorp for a lunch stop. After lunch we continue by bus for one hour to Malgas where we once again get on the bike, leaving the main road to follow a gravel track to our river camp where rustic, wooden A-frame huts line the banks of the Breede River. This accommodation offers a chance to enjoy the surrounding nature. Many of the team here come from the nearby town and offer a real insight into their life on the Western Cape. You can chat with the friendly team at the bar or around this evening’s camp fire, or find a relaxing spot along the riverbank to enjoy the peace and quiet.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 60 kilometres, with 119 metres total ascent.

Day 5 Visit Cango caves; Cycle Swartberg Pass

We start today with a scenic three hour drive along Route 62 to the Little Karoo and a visit to the huge, limestone caverns of the Cango Caves. These caves are an underground wonderland of extraordinary structures, millions of years old. The combination of dripping rainwater and limestone has led to the creation of ancient stalactites, stalagmites and mighty rock columns. Allegedly, a local European farmer first discovered the caves late in the 18th century; however, there is research which proves these caves have been used by humankind as far back as the Early Stone Age. En route we pass through the heart of the verdant Breede River Valley, the largest of the Western Cape’s fruit and wine producing valleys. As we continue eastwards along the world’s longest wine route, passing through Barrydale and Ladismith the scenery changes dramatically to the stark and arid landscapes of the Little Karoo. After our visit we drive into the beautiful Red Stone Hills at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains. Here we take to our bikes and explore the area on gravel tracks with some steep sections, marvelling at the dramatic panorama of ancient red and orange sandstone the area is famed for. From Cango we are driven with our bikes as far up the Swartberg Pass as possible and from here we descend back to Cango and cycle to De Poort where we spend the next two nights.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 46 kilometres, with 840 metres total ascent (Swartberg pass), an easier option of 30 kilometres and 250 metres total ascent is available.
Please note: in high summer this ride can be very hot and exposed. Your Explore Leader may substitute another route if necessary.

Day 6 Cycle the Meiringspoort Pass; gorge ride with waterfall stop

After a 30 minute drive out of De Poort we jump on our bikes and explore the Mieringspoort Pass where soaring cliff walls with spectacular rock formations line the 25 km tarred road which winds along the floor of the gorge, crossing the Groot River 25 times. Each crossing, or drift, has its own name and story – we stop and rest to learn more at the Waterfall information site. The road is a remarkable engineering feat, but the overwhelming features are the wonders of nature. The folds of the Table Mountain sandstone strata tower above the road, constantly changing colour as you move through sunlight and shade. Hardy plants, including indigenous pelargoniums, cling to the precarious rock faces while birds, baboons and smaller fauna abound in the protected Kloofs and crevices. We return by bike to De Poort for our second night.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 36 kilometres, with 200 metres total ascent.

Day 7 Drive to the foot of the Prins Alfred Pass; cycle and drive to Knysna

Today starts with a two hour drive to the foot of Prins Alfred’s Pass, a well-travelled road for both South Africans and international tourists linking the Little Karoo with the coast. With four biomes on the pass it provides a home to an abundance of indigenous fauna and flora. The road crosses the river 7 times while winding through the mountains. This spectacular 88km mountain pass route is also the home of the Middle Keurbooms Conservancy. Concerned landowners started the conservancy in June 2006. Today it covers more than 30,000 hectares, protecting indigenous fauna and flora and participating in various eco-tourism and eco-farming activities. It is the only pass in South Africa where people live alongside the road and trade in the pass. We explore approximately 58 kilometres of this lovely winding road by bike; be warned that you will be charmed by its beauty. We continue the last few kilometres our journey to the quaint seaside town of Knysna by bus which will take approximately one hour.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 58 kilometres

Day 8 Explore Knysna; drive and cycle to Tsitsikama National Park

Knysna was originally a harbour, as well as a forestry and mining centre. Today it is noteworthy as an artists’ retreat and adventure activity base. After some exploration and lunch here we have an exciting ride through part of the indigenous Harkerville Forest and on to our rustic camp at Storms River in Tsitsikama National Park. Tsitsikamma NP is a pristine marine and forest reserve stretching for 50 kilometres from Nature’s Valley across to the mouth of the Groot River. This evening’s simple chalets are nestled amongst the trees just minutes from the sea front and there will be ample time to try some fresh seafood in the restaurant or cook up a traditional braai at one of the communal barbeque areas by the water.

The forest huts consist of 2 single beds, communal ablutions and communal kitchen. The communal ablutions, which are serviced daily, are kept neat and tidy with private shower cubicles. Male and Female ablutions are kept separate.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 12 kilometres, with 200 metres total ascent. Optional additional 30 kilometres cycle ride (200 metres total additional ascent).

Day 9 Circular ride in Tsitsikama National Park

Today’s circular ride lets us explore Tsitsikamma National Park and Storms River. We ride through the magnificent Tsitsikamma Forest along the Bloukrans and Nature’s Valley Passes. The descents through the forest are a real highlight of the trip. Tsitsikamma, South Africa’s first coastal National Park, is an area renowned for its astonishing variety of marine and bird life. From within the park we are able to view where Storms River cuts through the Outeniqua Mountains on its journey to the Indian Ocean. In a relatively small area we have waves crashing against rock pools, sugar white sand, plunging water-falls and towering forests filled with a tremendous variety of trees, the most well-known being the Outeniqua Yellowwood. Wherever you stand in Tsitsikamma there is nothing in front of you but the sea rolling in with the tide, the breath-taking backdrop of the Outeniqua Mountains and the unending cacophony of birdsong.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 65 kilometres.

Day 10 Drive to Port Elizabeth where our trip ends

Departing Natures Valley Rest Camp this morning we drive two and a half hours to Port Elizabeth Airport (PLZ), where we will arrive at about 12pm and this is where our trip ends. The earliest your flight can depart is 3pm.