This is a huge opportunity for mountain biking on raw natural trails that are sculpted through the ages by these rural peopled as they go about their daily lives. Just a stone’s throw away from the city of Durban is the fabled Valley of 1000 Hills, the nearest rural area which is dominated by the uMsundusi and uMgeni Rivers and hill after hill extending from the river valleys, making it a microcosm of rural Zulu life with endless opportunities to ride.
|BEST TIME OF THE YEAR||ALL YEAR ROUND|
|TOUR GRADE||3: MODERATE
This ride is for regular mountain bikers, who have a degree of off road experience. Routes include some moderate to difficult technical sections.
|MORE INFORMATION||Colonization of the world by the British was fueled by a few arrogant, ignorant men, one of whom was Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere. He was an archetypical Victorian colonial administrator whose belief in the British Empire was as absolute as his disregard for its inhabitants. This attitude had disastrous implications in SA when he became High Commissioner in 1877.
Despite many years of Zulu and Brit living in relative peace and harmony, Frère had concluded that Natal could not exist safely and peacefully alongside the Zulu nation under King Cetshwayo. After some devious maneuverings, which failed to initiate war, he had an ultimatum delivered to Cetshwayo at the Ultimatum Tree. The demands were impossible by design.
Cetshwayo sent a message to Frere, in the words of historian David Rattray, “begging his British friends not to go to war, and warning him that if the Great White Queen sent her red soldiers into Zululand, his aMabutho would eat those red soldiers up. The die was cast.”
The British invaded Zululand on 1st January 1879 in the first act of aggression of the Anglo-Zulu War and the battles of Isandlwana (22nd January) and Rorke’s Drift (23rd January) ensued.
SUMMARY OF ITINERARY
|1||Travel from Durban & warm up||20km||300m||300m||D|
|2||Isandlwana (Chelmsford’s Folly)||55km||1050m||1150m||BLD|
|4||Wagon Trail & Return to DBN||24km||300m||1800m||BL|
Day 1: Arrival in Anglo-Zulu Battlefields & Camp Buffalo Saunter
Stats: 20-25 km, ascent 300m, descent 300m
The group will leave Durban in time to arrive at the base by 15h00. After quickly checking in and preparing to ride, riders will leave for a ‘warm-up’ ride into Camp Buffalo Reserve to search for the only known Bushman paintings in the area and do some game viewing by bike. The probability of seeing plains game such as Wildebeest, Zebra, Kudu, Giraffe and many others is high. While not flat, this ride is a relatively gentle introduction into riding in the area.
Day 2: ISANDLWANA (Chelmsford’s Folly) – Arrogance personified
Stats: 55 km, ascent 1050m, descent 1150m
This is a full day of riding activity and history lessons as we hear the stories of the Battle of Isandlwana as regaled by the raconteur.
After a good breakfast the journey begins with a transfer to the Isandlwana area where the riders gear up to take on the challenges of the day. The riding is characterized by sequences of rock gardens, cattle tracks, gullies, dongas and local villages creating raw, natural trails sculpted by the rural communities as they go about their daily lives.
Just after Chelmsford’s breakfast spot (where he was when ‘all hell broke loose’ at Isandlwana), as is typical in mountain biking, there is a climb and an awesome flowing descent to Mangeni Falls and a tea stop.
The riders approach the battle site of Isandlwana from the east to meet the support crew for welcome refreshments and lunch before settling in to hear the story of the battle. After the lunch, the riders will transfer back to base.
After a few hours of relaxing, the riders congregate around the camp fire where many a story of the day will roll off lubricated tongues as we quench our thirst.
Day 3: Rorke's Drift (11 Victoria Crosses)
Stats: 40 km, 1000 ascent, 750m descent
This is another full day of riding and history. The riders find their way from base through iSibindi Eco Reserve for more game viewing and some nice rough dirt roads. It is a privilege to access this private land.
We will exit iSibindi under their game fence in a riverbed. The next trails are in communal land, so are typically footpaths as the riders work their way out of the valley, over the ridge and down to the Buffalo River.
After crossing the Buffalo, the trails continue on tribal land, meandering up towards Isandlwana, where the riders will connect with paths used by many British soldiers as they fled the battle towards Rorke’s Drift as they were by Zulu warriors.
The ride to Rorke’s Drift attempts to follow these and then links with the wagon trail used by traders and the British as they moved supplies into Zululand, finally crossing on the bridge at the original Rorke’s Drift and makes its way to the trading post.
After refreshments and lunch, the raconteur will keep the riders spellbound with the stories of incredible bravery (and desperation) shown by the small band of around 150 soldiers who defended the trading post building (which was a make-shift hospital) against some 4000 Zulu warriors.
To this day, the highest number of Victoria Crosses ever awarded at a single battle is the 11 awarded by the British to their heroes of Rorke’s Drift.
Riders will transfer back to base, but there is the option for any hardy (or stupid) riders to ride the 15 km odd.
Again, there will be many stories told around the camp fire.
Day 4: Wagon Trail
Stats: 24 km, ascent 300m, descent 1800m
With the history lessons over and the riders by now comfortable on raw, natural trails, something interesting is thrown into the mix to top off the great riding – the Helpmekaar Wagon Trail.
It’s a short transfer up to the escarpment, where the riders enter private farmland to ride the old wagon trail dropping of the escarpment from Helpmekaar to Rorke’s Drift. There are some exciting bits of trail as it winds its way down to the valley below. This is a must for all riders as not only is the ride challenging, anyone who walks a little will still appreciate the awesome views.
Once off the escarpment the trail is on farm roads, interspersed with the occasional cattle track before meeting a district road for a short amble back to base. The last section on farmland is an exciting long, smooth descent to the district road, a perfect way to celebrate an exciting journey.
After lunch and packing up, the riders will bid farewell to this fascinating area and transfer back to Durban.
Expect to pay around R 7500 (inc. VAT) per person sharing, there is a single supplement additional charge of 30% if you require a single room.
MINIMUM NUMBER OF RIDERS: 8