Tired of the morning gridlock? Longing for a vast stretch of single-track trail to stretch your legs? Dreaming of paddling the big blue ocean? Then it’s time to pack up your car and reclaim the road-trip. Stow your gear, pack the padkos and light out for Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route – arguably the best place in South Africa for mountain biking, trail running and paddling.
Plett is an adventurers paradise: from the dizzying heights of Peak Formosa and the Bloukrans Bungy to the deep blue rock pools and colourful reefs of the bay – there’s no need to be indoors a moment longer than you have to – the waterways and trails are calling.
The areas around Plettenberg Bay, including Knysna and Tsitsikamma, are well-known to local and visiting riders as some of the best in the country. Here’s a taste:
MTB Trail Pass
Garden Route Trail Pass is a partnership between Club 100 Plettenberg Bay, MTO, other landowners, local bike shops and sponsors to develop a system of MTB trails on the Garden Route that allows riders an almost all-access pass to some seriously superb rides. For a single fee, riders can access the following properties: MTO’s Kruisfontein Forest, Buffelsnek Forest and Keurbooms Forest, Cairnbrogie Dairy Farm (coastal route), the Smith family property and Protea Wilds Retreat. Find out more: www.mtbtrailpass.co.za
Take a hair-raising trip down the pass into Nature’s Valley, embrace deep nature along Petrus se Brand or take a coastal meander along the Harkerville trails, this is Garden Route National Park country and it’s magnificent. Find out more: www.sanparks.org
Harkerville & Kranshoek
As above, the forest and coastline between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay is quite pristine, offering trails through pine forest, cool indigenous forest and along the cliffs of this dramatic stretch of coastline. It’s a mountain-bikers dream come true. In addition to the national parks’ routes, Cairnbrogie Dairy Farm is a secret that locals love to share. This beautiful farm stretches along the coastline and offers hikers, riders and horseback riders the most breathtaking views of endless ocean, endemic fynbos and birdlife. They have a coffee shop and pump track too. Find out more: www.cairnbrogie.co.za
Dr Evil Classic 2021
Plett’s favourite MTB race is designed by the famous Dr Evil himself, Leon Evans. It’s three days of epic trails – each in a different location and is known as one of the best-run stage races around. Day one traverses Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve where riders encounter magnificent wildlife like zebra, wildebeest and possibly even elephants. Day two moves over to the lovely Kurland Estate at the foot of the Tsitsikamma Mountains for a day of forest riding through indigenous and plantation forests. And, finally, day three takes riders to the popular Cairnbrogie Farm for that fabulous coastal scenery. This year’s dates are: 23 – 25 September 2021, so book early to avoid missing out. www.drevilclassic.com
For paddlers, there are three choices: ocean, river or lagoon? And, quite frankly any one will provide an incredibly immersive natural adventure.
Choose from Nature’s Valley or Keurbooms, or Knysna if you’d like to go a bit further afield. Both lagoons are fantastic for bird watching; Keurbooms is fortunate to have annual flamingo visitors and a single black swan. Occasionally, paddlers may encounter seals or even small sand-sharks on their excursions. While Nature’s Valley has a blind river mouth and is often closed to the ocean, Keurbooms is tidal, so please do watch out for currents.
The Keurbooms and Bitou rivers are our most popular, and they both feed into the Keurbooms Lagoon. Salt River at Nature’s Valley is a bit of a walk but quite lovely and Untouched Adventures at Storms River will provide an unforgettable kayak-and-lilo trip into the great gorge. But, back to Keurbooms and Bitou: Bitou is the smaller, narrower of the two and traverses the Bitou Wetland providing birders and nature-lovers with a simple, wonderful paddle. Keurbooms and the Keurbooms Nature Reserve is much larger and wider, super for a family trip and a long, sun-kissed day on the water. Both offer guided kayak trips and there is a Keurbooms stand-up paddling and champagne cruise too ;)
In Plett, our ocean seldom disappoints when it comes to watersports and regular paddlers will be astounded by the sunrise and sunset colours on an early morning or evening paddle. Paddlers can book a guided trip out to Robberg to visit the seal colony with possible sightings of dolphins and whales along the way! PLEASE NOTE: Although Plettenberg Bay is a bay and is relatively sheltered, it is still the open ocean. Please evaluate sea conditions before paddling or book a guided trip. Always let someone know when you’ll be expected back.
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