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, 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 while interacting with the folk who live here.
|TOUR GRADE|| 3/4: MODERATE – CHALLENGING
This ride is for regular mountain bikers, who have a degree of off road experience. Routes include some moderate to difficult technical sections & sharp climbs
|BEST TIME OF THE YEAR||April – September|
|WHY YOU SHOULD DO THIS RIDE||
SUMMARY OF ITINERARY
|1||Transfer in & warm up||15km||Not much||Not Much||D|
|2||Thuthuka Mission Rapid Trail||35km||600m||600m||BD|
|3||‘Om Die Dam’ Nagle Trail||30km||1200m||1200m||BLD|
|5||Mfula Trail & Exit||40km||800m||800m||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 while hearing more of what is in store, before retiring for a good night’s sleep.
Day 2: Thuthuka Mission Rapid Trail
Stats: 35 km, ascent 600m, descent 600m
In order to avoid riding on tar, 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 figure of eight 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 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 are it’s the short transfer back to Nagle Dam.
Day 3: ‘Om Die Dam’ Nagle Trail
Stats: 30km, 1500m ascent, 1500m descent
Riders must not be fooled by the relatively short distance as Nagle Dam is sandwiched in a steep valley between two large ‘table’ mountains. There are some steep climbs with rewarding helter-skelter descents which scare or exhilarate depending on your trail likes. There’s also a river crossing which can be relatively easy or quite challenging depending on the flow.
Regardless of the type of rider you are, this will be a memorable day. Riders are likely to be lucky enough to spot some game as part of the trail is through a small nature reserve which has various types of buck, wildebeest, zebra and giraffe. There’s sure to be some lively chatter about the day as riders relax around the camp fire before turning in.
Day 4: Confluence Trail
Stats: 40 km, 800 ascent, 800m 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 and back to the river.
There’s a long climb through the village to the top of a sublime trail descending through the forest. Once at the uMgeni again, it’s a short hop on single track along the river to iSithumba Village, the destination.
Once refreshed, the riders have the opportunity to explore the village and learn about customary life. No doubt most will end up at the village shebeen drinking beer with only the brave trying umqomboti, the traditional brew.
Day 5: Mfula Trail & Exit
Stats: 40km, ascent 800m, descent 800m
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!
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.
Expect to pay around R 8500 (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