Most of us hate to admit it but we all know that exercise is the answer to most of our issues – be it physical or mental. Once your heart rate is up and the blood is flowing, everything suddenly seems clear. We might hate it while in the moment but still always find ourselves saying afterwards, “Wow, I should really do that more often”.
So why not make your exercise routine that much more exciting and explore beautiful South Africa on a bike?
The Baakens River MTB trail
If you live in or near Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), Eastern Cape, you’re in for a treat! There are no more excuses because you have an amazing MTB trail between beautiful nature right in the middle of the city. Baakens Valley is a narrow green belt wedged within the heart of Gqeberha and stretches from east to west. In other words, from just above the harbour to the outlying suburbs along the western edge of the city.
The route can take between 3 -4 hours. And the full MTB trail measures around 23km in total as riders ride along the Baakens River. Sandy contour paths and gravel jeep tracks can be expected. And riders can definitely expect to be tested on technical skills as the route varies between sharp climbs to downhills, complete with natural obstacles in between.
Furthermore, when riders reach the top, they can appreciate the contrasting views of the city and nature. And as the rest of the park gets explored, riders can be on the lookout for animals such as guinea fowl, tortoises, mongoose and the occasional grysbok or Knysna turaco.
What to keep in mind
The best place to start this MTB journey is at Cyclo Pro, which is at the Elliot Centre. From there, riders can decide on the lower Guinea Fowl route or the upper Baakens Valley route.
At the starting point, there is safe, sufficient parking, a cycling shop and options for refreshments.
Even the most experienced riders should take care on this route when crossing the river – especially after rain. And for personal safety, it is always recommended that riders cycle the route with a friend or two.
What to do off the bike
For those who are visitors to the area and would like to explore more of the city, we have a few suggestions.
One of the city’s great assets is its beautiful beaches – ideal for swimming, surfing, snorkelling, windsurfing, etc.
And at various points quad-biking, 4X4, as well as hiking trails, are also available.
And lastly, a great family outing to the Addo Elephant National Park is also a must.