Africa is known for its splendid alpine landscapes that offer the best trails for holidaymakers and sports people, especially daring mountain bikers. Most of these routes are as natural and wild as they can get, giving backpackers and bikers the best mountain biking experience.
Along these beaten paths, riders get to see all kinds of wildlife, including herds of elephants, indigenous trees and plants, as well as tribal villages and other cultural wonders. Here are the top six mountain biking spots in Africa.
1. Nalut, Libya
Located between the Libyan capital Tripoli and Ghadames City, on the western side of the Nafusa Mountains, Nalut District is often regarded as the mountain bike heaven. The region is blessed with extensive trails, snaking around humongous sand hills that spread all the way to the horizon.
The weather too is perfect – clear skies without humidity. This accompanied by the elevations offers the ideal spot for mountain bikers. The area is also dotted with many spectacular tourist sites, including the ancient Berber granaries, castles, and the mythical Ghadames.
2. Garden Route, South Africa
Extending from Mossel Bay in Western Cape Town to the Storms River in the Eastern Cape, the Garden Route is home to grassy and geologically diverse vegetation surrounded by various lagoons, mountains, hills and lakes scattered along the coast.
Its oceanic climate, with temperatures hardly falling below 10 degrees in winter and rarely rising beyond 28 degrees in summer, Garden Route is a perfect destination for mountain bikers. The trails are sandwiched between the mountains and the Indian Ocean, offering the riders a rare opportunity to explore the real African wildernesses.
3.High Atlas Mountain, Morocco
Stretching to the eastern direction of the Moroccan-Algerian border, the High Atlas Mountain is divided into three extensive mountain ranges: Western High Atlas, Central High Atlas and Eastern High Atlas. The mountain rises in the west at the Atlantic Ocean and drops abruptly to the southwest, making a remarkable conversion to the coast and the Anti-Atlas range.
The High Atlas forms the basis for several river systems, most of which flow all year round, attracting human settlements in the area. These off-road trails wind their way back and forth steeply up the slopes, crossing paths with blue babbling streams and scented long forests. It’s a perfect spot for mountain bikers, especially adrenaline junkies.
4. Makgadikgadi Pan, Botswana
Situated in northeastern Botswana, right at the heart of the arid savanna, the Makgadikgadi Pan is one of the largest salt pans in the world. The pan is a remnant of the formerly vast Lake Makgadikgadi, which was once larger than Switzerland but dried up hundreds of years ago.
When the ancestral lake shrank, it left relic shorelines that can be seen clearly from the southwestern part of the basin. The shorelines, which are elevated to 3100ft, offer the best trails for mountain bikers. The pan also consists of igneous rock islands, which contain several baobab trees and are protected as national monuments.
5. Kilimanjaro and Ngorongo Crater, Tanzania
Located in Northern Tanzania near the Tanzanian-Kenyan border, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, rising approximately 4,900 meters from its base and 5,895 meters above sea level. The mountain is part of the famous Kilimanjaro National Park and is a perfect destination for mountain bikers and hikers.
Many travel companies in Tanzania always engage their visitors in a Kilimanjaro to Ngorongo Crater biking challenge, which gives bikers a chance to cycle hundreds of kilometres across a real African savannah against the background of Africa’s tallest free-standing mountain. Bikers also pass through native villages where they get an opportunity to interact with the indigenous people, the majority of whom belong to the Maasai community.
Mpumalanga, South Africa
Tacked on the eastern side of South Africa, Mpumalanga offers some of the finest mountain biking trails in Africa. From Mankele Mountain to The Queen Rose trails, Mpumalanga is certainly a perfect spot for bikers and backpackers. Riders get an opportunity to test their strength and perseverance by ascending the steep Barberton on the Queen Rose trail, which increases in difficulty as you go up.
And for those who are looking for a mixture of a gruelling and luxurious biking expedition, the Misty Valley Mountain, which is part of Mpumalanga province, is an ideal choice. The valley is a serene spot surrounded by lavish resorts, forests and game – every mountain biker’s dream. It also offers exotic ravines, steep crossings, bridges and single tracks for daring bikers.
So, the next time you are looking for a perfect spot for your mountain biking expeditions, remember that Africa has plenty of trails to explore.