Adventure cycle offers ride of a lifetime through EC nature reserve

Alex Frenkel

CYCLISTS are being offered the rare opportunity of taking part in an adventure ride through a nature reserve, at the same time as raising funds for endangered rhinos, just before Christmas.

The SlowRiding Secret Safari takes place from December 19 to 22 and cyclists will be exploring the secret trails of the Great Fish Nature Reserve near Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has been made possible with the help of the game park administration and game ranger staff – who will look after the cyclists and ensure their comfort and safety.

The “SlowRiders” will also experience a taste of the luxurious private game reserve experience, which will be hosted by the park’s neighbours – Bucklands Private Game Reserve.

The ride route will loop across The Great Fish Nature Reserve – an area of 45000ha formed by the consolidation of three historical adjacent reserves – the Double Drift Reserve, the Sam Knott Nature Reserve and the Andries Vosloo Kudu Reserve.

The total area encompasses diverse habitats and panoramic views, with the land area bisected by two of the Eastern Cape’s great rivers – the Kei and the Great Fish.

An abundance of game – including Cape buffalo, hippo, kudu, Hartbees, black rhino, elephant, a plethora of smaller indigenous antelope species and wild warthogs – make a visit to this relatively unknown park worthwhile.

The Great Fish Nature Reserve is managed by Eastern Cape Parks, which has contributed to putting the cycling adventure event together.

The route will take cyclists on a challenge, riding on private trails through the bush and across the rivers of the old colonial Frontier Country – the site of many battles between the British and amaXhosa.

The biome offers visitors a unique bushveld experience – being the largest single tract of sub-tropical thicket in South Africa, its spekboom plants are one of Earth’s biggest scrubbers of carbon, and the conservation of this entire unique regional ecosystem is a priority to the caretakers of the reserve.

Cyclists will wade through the Great Fish River over low-level bridge crossings, visit spectacular viewpoints and an old fort, take part in a riverside hippo walk, and enjoy a night drive and a dining experience under the stars.

Participants will taste a warthog spit braai at the riverside boma of the Mvubu Lodge where they will be overnighting (vegetarians will also be catered for). To top it off will be a traditional amaXhosa evening of food, music dance and storytelling hosted by the local Ngushwa people.

Experienced and super-fit professionals can ride some of the more challenging tracks, while tour support crews will help less experienced riders on this family-friendly cycle ride.

By taking part, cyclists will be making a difference to local communities, as well as supporting the struggle against poaching, as R1000 of every booked ride entry fee will be handed over to Stop Rhino Poaching Now.

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