KwaZulu Natal is dominated by the Zulu nation where most still live rural lives tending the soil and their livestock. 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, where both amazing trails and rural culture abound. So it’s a microcosm of rural Zulu life with endless opportunities to ride while interacting with the folk who live here and learning more of their culture.
|TOUR GRADE||2 to 3: ACTIVE LEISURE
This is a recreational ride for the not so regular mountain bikers and reasonably fit non-riders.
|WHY YOU SHOULD DO THIS RIDE||
SUMMARY OF ITINERARY
|1||Transfer in & Warm up||10km||Not much||Not Much||D|
|2||Mission Rapid Trail & Shisa Nyama||30km||500m||500m||BD|
|3||Confluence Trail & Village Experience||25km||600m||700m||BLD|
|4||Mfula Trails & River Chill||20km||600m||550m||BLD|
|5||Inanda Trail & Exit||25km||400m||400m||B|
Day 1: Arrival at Nagle Dam
Meet around midday at a central location in Durban for a bus ride into the Valley of 1000 Hills and Nagle Dam on the uMgeni River. Once settled in to our comfortable tented accommodation, there’s time for a short warm-up ride in the Nagle area or riders can choose to relax and take in the dam and its surrounds. The evening is spent around the braai chatting and getting to know each other better while hearing more of what is in store, before retiring for a good night’s sleep.
Day 2: Mission Rapid Trail
Stats: 30 km, ascent 500m, descent 500m
It’s a few kilometres of tar, or we take a short trip in the Mothership to the start of the trail. It’s immediately onto raw trails along the uMsundisi River for the first real taste of the type of riding that will characterise the next few days.
While the trail is actually a big loop following the river, it doesn’t feel anything like it as it snakes here and there with a big variation in trail type from dirt road to smooth single track to rough single track, etc.
After a morning of some of the most challenging and rewarding trails that recreational cross country mountain bikers will have experienced, we will arrive at Thuthuka Shebeen for beers and a traditional shisa nyama lunch (own account). This is right into the culture of the Zulu. As we get into the swing of it, the number of beers doesn’t matter as it’s the short transfer back to Nagle Dam.
Day 3: Confluence Trail
Stats: 25 km, 600m ascent, 700m descent
It’s time to leave the upper uMgeni and follow the river downstream on cattle paths through a couple of homesteads down to the confluence with the uMsundusi River, a major landmark for the canoeists who annually race down these rivers.
After a few kilometres of riding upstream, the trail crosses the river on ‘scary bridge’, a nerve wracking crossing for anyone afraid of heights! The trail is then a walking path following a water pipeline to a main village, back to the river and on to iSithumba Village, the destination.
Once refreshed, the group will go on a guided village walk to meet the local Inkosi (Chief), a Sangoma (witch doctor) who will commune with his ancestors and devine by throwing bones. There will be a home visit for tea and an opportunity to chat to the locals about their way of life. The village walk ends at the village shebeen where the brave trying umqomboti, the traditional brew.
The night is in the village with each rider (or two) allocated to a family. Much fun will be had trying to communicate and experience Zulu culture ’up close and personal’ as the riders share a traditional meal with their hosts before turning in for the night.
Day 4: Mfula Trail
Stats: 40km, ascent 600m, descent 550m
With the trail heading downstream, riders will be surprised by climbs such as Ngumeni Hill as they are continuously reminded that they are in the Valley of 1000 Hills!
There is an option to ride dirt roads, but not all hills can be avoided! We’ll make the choices when we get there. However what goes up must come down, so there’s a really rewarding fast dirt road descent down to the day’s destination at Mfula.
In keeping with the active leisure approach of this adventure, lunch will be at some amazing rock pools on the Mpeku River. Most of the riders will no doubt spend a couple of leisurely hours in the pools before returning to Mfula.
At dinner around the braai, there is sure to be a lot of chatter about the unique overnight experience with a Zulu family. But riders will also have their last opportunity to savour the silence and amazing stars that comes with being in rural Africa while contemplating their cultural experience.
Day 5: Inanda Trail
Stats: 25km, 400m ascent, 40m descent
The trail is a mix of walking and cattle tracks and rough dirt tracks criss-crossing the river as the riders wend their way downstream to Inanda Dam, one of the main water storage dams for the city of Durban.
There are routes on either side of the dam, so we’ll choose which depending on how the group of riders has fared up to this point.
At the end of the trail, bikes are loaded and everyone climbs onto the Mothership for the drive out of the valley back to Durban. Usually, the group elects to stop somewhere for a celebratory lunch before bidding their final farewells.
R 9000 (inc. VAT) per person sharing, there is a single supplement additional charge of 30% if you require a single room.
MINIMUM NUMBER OF RIDERS: 6