Cycle a desert moonscape in /Ai /Ais-Richtersveld Transfontier Park

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Most visitors to the Richtersveld return to the real world with tales of eerily quiet valleys, magnificent mountains and halfmens succulents clinging to the slopes. While hauling a hardy 4×4 over tricky tracks between geological masterpieces, it can be difficult to get in touch with the finer aspects of this landscape. Those keen to tackle the desert at a slower pace are now able to do so on a bicycle, to immerse themselves in this otherworldly space.

Cycling the Richtersveld is not for sissies, but Desert Knights-inspired trails are now open to all who dare traverse the tricky terrain. Image by Roland Vorwerk

Three new cycling trails – open to hikers and runners too – starting at Sendelingsdrift have recently been introduced after the many successes of the Desert Knights mountain-bike adventures hosted in the park. Along the trails, riders will see iconic quiver trees, boulders the size of cars and, while stopping for a break, delicate succulents sprouting from the ground. The seven-kilometre Moonscape Trail has a few technical sections but is not too far from the camp, so a great option for casual cyclists.

The more challenging nine-kilometre Gambler Trail is a bit tricky and rated blue for mountain bikers, with some steep climbs before a relaxed descent. The 15-kilometre Impaler Trail, rated red, is not for the faint-hearted; it features a few rises, challenging paths, and steeper climbs and drops than the Moonscape. (If you’re a daredevil, ask about the short drop-off burst on Helskloof, which has views of the Namib Desert over the border.)

Cost

Free entrance. Conservation fee R71 per person.

Do it

Riders must bring their own bikes, protective gear and plenty of water. These brand-new trails are clearly raked; phone ahead to let the park know you want to ride and they will assist with directions and pointers. Only groups of two or more are allowed (no riding alone permitted). 0278311506

Words: Taryn Arnott 

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