10 Cycle Tours in South Africa

26.June 2014

Our Journey

Cycling is an increasingly popular sport in South Africa, as witnessed by the thousands of Sunday cyclists. There are many clubs to join, although it is just as easy to team up with friends, office colleagues, or even the family and head off on a Sunday cycle. Grab your mountain bike or road bike and check out these top 10 cycle tours of South Africa.

South Africa is blessed with good provincial roads for the longer cycles, fantastic scenery to take in, and almost constant incredible weather. One drawback though is that South African motorcar drivers have very poor culture and attitude towards cyclists and pedestrians alike, who mostly need to fend for themselves when out on the country’s roads. The net result is that cycling can be a dangerous hobby and sport, highlighted none more so than the tragic recent death of South Africa’s leading cross-country cyclist in a collision with a vehicle while on a neighbourhood training run.

So adopt the safety-in-numbers rule when heading out onto the road, and be sure to use safer roads with broad lanes. There are three ‘must do’ cycle tours on every cyclist’s list, as well as some spectacular additional tours. Here then are some of South Africa’s most spectacular and scenic bicycle routes.

The first ‘must do’ is the Cape Argus, which is the largest individually timed cycle race in the world. It runs though Cape Town and its environs in March every year, is 109 km long, and has around 35 000 participants.

Also located in Cape Town is the Cape Epic, which is a marathon of a race and much tougher than the Argus as it heads off into the wine lands district with steep climbs and often hot conditions. It is very popular amongst foreign rides and a great many nationalities participate when it gets underway also in March each year, with a different course layout each year.

The third of the big three is the 94.7 Cycle Challenge, a radio station-backed Johannesburg race that takes place in the spring in November. It is popular amongst all cyclists and a great tour through this large, sprawling city.

In KwaZulu-Natal is the pretty Midlands Meander cycle tour taking about two days along the R103. This tour goes from Estcourt to Howick through picturesque scenery and small towns, including the Howick and Karkloof Falls with undulating hills and sugar cane plantations.

For a cycle in a nature reserve, you can head for the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve near Heidelberg outside Johannesburg with over 60 km of trails, both tarred and off-road, offering excellent views of birds and animals.

Table Mountain in Cape Town offers a wide range of cycle trails, and the scenery is naturally stunning. In the Cape Winelands area is also the challenging Hellshoogte Pass, a fabulous cycle tour between Stellenbosch and the R45 that is on the main Winelands route. The scenery is classic Cape, and the road is in excellent condition.

In the Eastern Cape, you can take the Owl House Cycle Route, which is around 50 km long, taking in the famous Owl House artwork with splendid natural scenery. The Garden Route Tour offers a range of short and long cycle opportunities through its fabulous natural surroundings and small towns.

The South Coast cycle route from Durban to Port Edward offers stunning sea views and rural Zulu villages, while overnighting is a breeze in this holiday coastal strip along the warm Indian Ocean.

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