About the challenge
South Africa is a land of incredible contrast and beauty. It possesses a vast array of landscapes; from dense tropical bush to open desert. Our ride takes us along the stunning Garden Route beginning in Tsitsikamma National Park to Mossel Bay; we then head for the most southerly point in Africa at Cape Agulhas and the famous Cape of Good Hope, the most south-westerly point of the continent. We will cycle around 400 km through indigenous forest, farmland, high mountains and alongside deserted white beaches.
Day 1: Depart UK
Day 2: Port Elizabeth – Tsitsikamma National Park
Arrive Johannesburg early in the morning and take connecting flight to Port Elizabeth. Transfer to Tsitsikamma National Park, where we overnight in forest chalets stunningly set on the Indian Ocean at Storms River. We then have a detailed trip briefing, sort out the bikes and relax! Night chalet.
Day 3: Tsitsikamma National Park – Plettenberg Bay
Cycle approx 85km
After a good breakfast we begin our cycle from Tsitsikamma to Plettenberg Bay, heading west through forest and below the Kougaberge Mountains. After a short distance we turn onto a small road and cycle to the beautiful and unspoilt Nature’s Valley on the coast for lunch. The exciting 4km descent into the valley means we have a steep 4km climb through bush back out! Back on the main Garden Route, we head towards Plettenberg Bay. Our first view is stunning; the huge bay stretches out before us. This is a great place to see dolphins and possibly southern right whales. We stay just outside Plettenberg. Night lodge.
Day 4: Plettenberg Bay – Knysna
Cycle approx 65km
Our destination today is Knysna, a charming coastal resort renowned for its wooden furniture, clocks & carvings. We begin our ride out of Plettenberg by climbing steadily for 32km along the Seven Passes Road into the indigenous forest for which Knysna and its elusive elephants are famous. Our final exertion is a strenuous 3km uphill, followed by a well-deserved 30km downhill cruise into Knysna. Night chalets on lagoon.
Day 5: Knysna – Wilderness Cycle approx 78km
Our destination today is Wilderness, a wild and beautiful area of the Garden Route set behind a long beach with crashing surf. A steep climb awaits us as we leave Knysna, followed by an undulating ride through lush farmland and woodland to our evening’s destination. Night chalets.
Day 6: Wilderness – Mossel Bay Cycle approx 65km
Today’s ride is slightly shorter as we head to the small coastal town of Mossel Bay. Our route takes us across open farmland and through forest, and finally down a superb long descent to the coast with great views across the bay. We will pass a couple of ostrich farms along the way; a strange sight when in the same field as a dairy cow! The final section takes us along the coast to our chalets where we will be staying. Night chalets.
Day 7: Mossel Bay – Cape Agulhas
Drive approx 4 hrs; Cycle approx 45km
Destination: the most southerly point in Africa! It is a 4-hour transfer to Bredasdorp; our drive takes us across open farmland and through several small towns. For much of the drive the Langeberg Mountains lie on the horizon, but eventually we come right up to them and see how impressive they really are! Turning off the main road, we head south towards Bredasdorp and Cape Agulhas. After lunch we cycle the last 40km to the Cape. The road is flat and very straight, with only the occasional bend. It can be very windy! We arrive at the small village of Struisbaai and cycle the last section to the Cape. Standing below the lighthouse at Cape Agulhas, you are at the most southerly point on the continental Africa: the Atlantic Ocean is on one side, the Indian Ocean on the other and of course Antarctica straight ahead! Night chalets.
Day 8: Cape Agulhas – Cape Town
Cycle approx 45km
Leaving Cape Agulhas behind us, we head for the wonderful Cape of Good Hope National Park and of course the Cape itself – the most south-westerly point in Africa. The morning’s drive to Simon’s Town is very varied and interesting. The afternoon’s ride – along the Cape peninsula with False Bay to our left and mountains to the right – is incredible! The wind whistles over the mountains, and cloud caps the summits for much of the time. The ride to the Cape is across windswept heath-land and alongside remote and stunning beaches. We will see baboons in the reserve and possibly whales that almost come ashore in their quest for shallow bays where they like to tickle their bellies on the pebbles. After a final photo stop at the very south-western tip of Africa we transfer to the centre of Cape Town for our huge celebration. Night hotel. (Celebration Dinner at Africa Café included)
Day 9: Depart Cape Town
After a free morning, we transfer to the airport for our flight back to the UK. (Lunch not included if not in-flight)
Day 10: Arrive UK
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The cost includes all accommodation as well as all flights and transport, accommodation, all meals except 1 or 2 as specified in the itinerary and entrance to any sites visited as part of the itinerary. A bike can also be provided if you wish. The tour cost also includes full trip support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders/mechanics and medics; local guides, drivers and cooks.
The tour cost does not include airport departure tax (if applicable), any extra meals as specified, drinks and personal expenses, and entry to other tourist sites you may wish to visit in your free time. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights) and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with South African Airlines or British Airways and Comair, however, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.
Accommodation on the cycle will be in simple chalets/lodges with basic washing facilities (mainly en-suite but occasionally shared facilities). Please do not expect the same standards as you would in the UK! In Cape Town we stay in a good 4* hotel.
All food is included when cycling. The food is great, will give you plenty of energy, and there is plenty of it! 1 meal (or 2 depending on flight times) as detailed in itinerary are not included.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not be able to meet your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are.
Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic, who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. At least one leader will be an experienced bike mechanic. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but at Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: cyclist ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Local Support Crew
Our local support crew is made up of local guides, drivers and cooks. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Drivers and cooks do not always speak English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely.
Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your cycle ride. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in this country is far below what you would spend on a normal night out.
The support vehicles are with the group all the time. All luggage and spares will be carried in them. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. Bikes can be transported on flights in bike bags or – a much cheaper option – cardboard bike boxes: ask your local bike shop if they have any. You should also bring a small daypack or large waist-pack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
Distances vary from approx 40-85km. Roads are predominantly tarmac with unsealed edges; Terrain is undulating with some steep hills. It is rarely flat and there are occasional graded gravel sections. Traffic is usually light and we will cycle at our own pace, but when we pass through a large town we go through as a group. We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
There will be a range of spares in the vehicle along with a full tool kit; however, it is impossible for us to carry spares for every eventuality. It is vital that if you bring your own bike it is in excellent working order before departure. We will be using 21-speed mountain bikes fitted with semi- slick tyres.
Clothing & Equipment
We are travelling through remote regions where we could be exposed to bad weather at any times so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. It is a condition of travel that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with the straps done up.
It is generally hot during the day, though it can be cooler in the hills and at night. Climate is influenced by the mountains and the coast and can change rapidly.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential for travel in South Africa and must be valid for at least 1 month after entry into the country. There is no visa requirement for UK citizens. Other nationalities should check entry requirements.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Malaria is not prevalent in South Africa.
You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! Travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow cyclists and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with The Conservation Volunteers and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org.uk or call 01302 388883.