Mountain Bike Magazine SANI - Autumn 2018 - Page 121

Way up high in the Northern Cape – along a stretch of wild country where the desert meets the ocean – you will find the Namaqua Coastal Route. Better bring your bike, because here you can ride for days. WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY JACQUES MARAIS to ocean he Namaqua region is a place of breath taking divergence and jaw-dropping contrasts. Set upon the tipping point between the coastal plains and arid inland escarpment, it constitutes a minimalist landscape strafed by a vigorous climate, and over the aeons, the onslaught of these extreme elements shaped a space rugged beyond belief. Terra fi rma bristles with a profusion of bulbs and succulents, while quiver trees and enormous granite outcrops spike against the blue yonder. During spring, and seemingly overnight, the dusty valleys of Namaqualand are transformed into a fl oral wonderland with the arrival of a full-on fl ower bloom, while autumn reigns supreme as the secret “Green Season”. Beyond the arid Northern Cape plains and outcrops – abundant with semiprecious stones, crystals and other geological treasures – the icy Atlantic Ocean awaits. This underwater paradise unfolds along a spectacular coastline, dotted with quirky villages such as Kleinzee, Koiingnaas and the fabled Hondeklip Bay. Also known as “Eenkantland” or the “Land Left Out”, Namaqua brims with a myriad life forms, all superbly adapted to this harsh and minimalist habitat, and many wonders await visitors along the fascinating Namaqua Coastal Route. The best way to experience the striking landscapes, fresh air and star-studded night skies are from the saddle of a mountain bike. Here are a handful of places you simply must visit… rugged riding | MTB | 121