Mountain bikers of all ages and skills are heading towards the Nelspruit area to experience SA’s newest and most breathtaking trails.
The area around Nelspruit and White River is one of the most stunning areas in South Africa. Home to some of the country’s unique natural wonders, such as the Blyde River Canyon and the Kruger National Park, it is a paradise for nature lovers – and now for sports enthusiasts as well.
Officially launched in February by the MTO Group, the area is also home to the White River MTB Trails, a new addition to South Africa’s fast growing world-class off-road cycling spots. Located across MTO’s forestry lands, among rolling hills, the trail has already been attracting local and international attention for its stunning beauty, relaxing atmosphere and incredible trails.
“These are some of the most beautiful areas in the country,” said Guy Turner, who along with Francois Lourens and André Visagie are among the local riders who helped design the trails. “What’s nice is through these initiatives you are allowing South Africans to see some really stunning secrets of nature. You just can’t access these by cars.”
The trail consists of over 40 kilometers of loops, from which numerous single-track trails snake off and back on again. These have been handpicked with care. Turner is part of a group of local mountain bikers who have been exploring the areas for years, discovering new areas and potential tracks. This was done unofficially, yet when MTO learned of their adventures, it didn’t shut them down. Instead it teamed up to formalise the tracks.
“Forestry companies are the custodians of huge tracts of land in South Africa,” said Lawrence Polkinghorne, MTO Group CEO. “We are privileged to be able to share our forests with our communities: there is endless beauty to see, with magnificent natural scenes that rival the best in the world. When you meet guys like Guy, who are really passionate about trails and community, and have a deep respect for the land, there is obvious synergy. We appreciate this – working with people that have a passion for their trade is part of MTO’s value proposition, and we look forward to developing world class and exceptional experiences for everyone to enjoy.”
It was inevitable that the area would attract mountain bikers and other nature enthusiasts. Covering over 20,000 hectares and incorporating rivers and hillsides, it’s filled with variety and unique wonders. “This proved to be too tempting for our local MTB community and outdoor enthusiasts, who havespent much of their time sussing out potential trails”, Turner added. “Sometimes you’d work your way through only to end up at the edge of a cliff! But other times you reach some incredible places. We even had a hardcore trail runner here who would look for steep tracks up the hills. We’d follow him and then try to take the track down again on our bikes.”
The tracks are an eclectic mixture that suit anyone from beginners to pros. Casual riders can take in the natural beauty as they cycle across the main dirt roads and jeep tracks of the primary loops. More adventurous riders and runners can tackle the side tracks, heading deep into unchartered territory: the area includes trails to challenge experienced riders who continually look to push the envelope.
“We have a unique blend of trails, mostly discovered by the local riders, that flow up and down the rolling hills, with fantastic flow sections and exhilarating downhill runs, enough excitement to cater for all!”
He isn’t alone in this opinion. Since opening its doors, the trails have received a surge of visitors from across the country and is fast attracting the attention of international visitors. Riders routinely call it one of the best MTB trails they have experienced yet!.
Permits are required to access the trail: these can be bought at the Pull Scar offices in White River, by calling 0860 MTO MTO (686 686), or soon online at www.mtotrails.co.za.
Author: Tanja Schmitz
Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.