Mountain Bike Magazine SANI - Autumn 2018 - Page 103

EAT AND STAY Utshwayelo Lodge Camp offers en-suite rustic chalets, 4-star en-suite tents, a tented camp and private camp sites. There is access to a communal kitchen on site, and drinks and meals can be enjoyed next to the pool or at the Fish Trap Bar. GETTING THERE From Durban, follow the N2 north past Empangeni, then turn right to Hluhluwe / Sodwana Bay, continuing on the R22 to Mbazwana. Keep going for 45km to a traffic circle, where you turn right to KaNgwanase / Kosibay and Farazella Border Post. Drive 20km past Emanguzi towards the Mozambique border, but turn right onto a good gravel road 600m before border post. Another 4.5 km will get you to the Utshwayelo Lodge and Camp. Route #3 Hluhluwe & Surrounds  T he iSimangaliso Wetland Park rates as the largest natural World Heritage Site on Planet Earth, and stretches an astounding 230km from north to south, encapsulating no less than 8% of South Africa’s total coastline. This spectacular wilderness area encompasses half a dozen unique ecosystems, making it one of South Africa’s most diverse nature regions. The False Bay section can be found at the widest part of the Saint Lucia estuary, spanning the water body between the Nhlozi and Nibela peninsulas. This unique part of iSimangaliso allows visitors to experience some of the best riding in this “Place of Miracles and Wonders” – SA’s first official World Heritage Site since 1999. False Bay brims with biodiversity, including a range of ecosystems ranging from woodland and thorn veld, to open savannah, wetland and pockets of old-growth sand forest. The Hluhluwe River Lodge property borders on the western boundary of the wetland park, and makes for an ideal base for mountain bikers and adventurers keen to explore the area by bike or on foot. Thatched chalets are scattered in the shade of indigenous forest, with the Red Duiker Trail right on your doorstep. Nyala can often be seen browsing amidst the bungalows or in the expansive gardens, and guests can enjoy magnificent views over Lake St Lucia. The bird-watching here is superb. False Bay rightly rates as one of the “Ten Jewels’ of iSimangaliso”, and the lake- shore riding here rates as one of the best MTB adventures. GO FIND A RIDE There are four existing trails in the False Bay section, making for a solid day of cranking on both single track and gravel roads. Start off on the Dugandlovu Trail from the False Bay entrance gate, then turn south off the tar after 30m onto a sandy jeep track for 6km. Keep left where the track forks onto a gravel road to Dugandlovu Camp. Turn sharp left turn onto Transect 10 road and follow single track onto the lakeshore, then pedal north along scenic, hard-packed hippo trails for an exhilarating ride, taking in the dramatic views of Hells Gate. After 2km, you’ll notice some “wooden ladders” in places to counter the sand, but a fat bike or wider tread will stand you in good stead. Stay on the lake track until you reach the picnic sites (Sandy Point), where you rejoin the dual-track route. Look out for vehicle traffic as the track joins the main tar road to the gate. Excellent birding off the bike is a bonus, and you need to constantly be aware of the potential danger of hippos (never ride at sunrise or sunset). tropical time | MTB | 103