The Cape Winelands is not only set up for wining and dining, it is also the perfect backdrop to explore your adventurous side, with the natural elements and lay of the land providing the perfect network of trails for mountain bikers. In fact, the Cape Winelands boasts some of THE best mountain biking trails in the country. The bonus, of course, is that once you have packed your cleats away for the day, you can get to sampling all that food and wine!
Stellenbosch Wine Route
Stellenbosch is largely considered to be the MTB capital of South Africa and with more than 500km of trail to explore, that’s no surprise. Having recently played host to the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup event earlier this year, Stellies is quickly cementing its place as a world cycling destination.
If you’re brave enough, you can take on the track that was cut into the Coetzenburg Mountain for the event – not for rookies or faint of heart! As the country’s MTB mecca, Stellenbosch obviously has a number of trails to explore with some of the more well-known including the G-spot MTB Trail, the Jonkershoek Trails, the Eden / Paradyskloof MTB Route and the Bottelary Hills MTB Trail.
There are plenty of operators in town who can help you navigate which trail suits your needs best, while you can also download the Stellenbosch Cycling Map, which includes all the routes, ratings, and operators in the area.
Franschhoek Wine Route
The Franschhoek Valley is well-known for its incredible wine and world class cuisine, but it is also home to some of the best MTB trails in the country. Like Stellenbosch, Franschhoek has something for everybody, whether you are a beginner rider or an experienced downhill racing snake.
The Robertsvlei Loop is perfect for beginners, cutting through gently undulating farmlands and offering incredible views of the Franschhoek River and mountain, while advanced riders can take on the Franschhoek Pass MTB Route, which will test you with a steady 25km climb to the top of pass, and reward you with an EPIC view of the valley below. The Matoppie MTB Route is a local favourite – a 14km ride that includes a tough climb and a technical contour route – also not recommended for beginner riders.
Namaqua West Coast Wine Route
Despite being one of the lesser-known wine routes in the country, the Namaqua West Coast is quickly showing itself to be a top contender in the wine stakes, and it is also considered one of the best adventure sports regions in the county, with its natural rugged terrain well suited to MTB in particular. The Viswater Mountain Bike Route is circular route that runs 30km from Doring Bay to Papendorp and back again. The route includes a variety of terrain, with everything from soft, ash-coloured sand to rocky single-track, and in some sections you will find yourself within 50m of the ocean. Just as your legs start to wane, the southern wind will push you down the home stretch where you can enjoy an ice-cold beer at the Jetty Restaurant.
Then, for something slightly different, combine your love of riding with the reward of ice cold beer at the Maskam Brewing Company. This 9km loop runs through sandy, rocky terrain with views of the vineyards and Maskam Mountain. View aside, there is also the additional lure of lounging on the lawns after your ride, quaffing a choice of Maskam Brewing’s Blonde Ale, Amber Ale or Weiss. Well worth it!
Paarl Wine Route
Summertime in Paarl is a great time to explore the wide network of trails criss-crossing throughout the famed Paarl Mountains, with a variety of difficulty levels on offer. The Jan Phillips Mountain Road is a great place to start with the longer 35km route and adrenaline-fuelled romp through the second largest granite outcrop in the world, passing three 500-million-year-old granite rocks in the process. The shorter routes range from 4km to 20km and which are perfect for families or inexperienced riders. For more routes around Paarl visit Paarl Mountain Biking routes.
Durbanville Wine Route
There are few places as well set up for mountain biking than Durbanville. It is a renowned mecca of MTB with a huge variety of trails to choose from and home to the largest mountain bike club in the country.
The Tygerberg MTB Club has a goal of setting up 120km of trail throughout the valley and they are already well on their way with a number of wine farms opening up their properties for trails to be built throughout the Durbanville Hills. Day passes are available for select routes, while a full membership with the club gets you access to member only trails. You will be spoilt for choice at Bloemendal with a number of tracks to choose from, for rookies and experienced riders, and for just R50 you can get a day pass to explore.
The Hillcrest Trail has a challenging climb, but the view of Robben Island is just-reward, while Hoogekraal starts with a gentle climb before testing riders with some sweeping singletrack and ‘Beware Alley’ – a 4km climb with some tricky bends and switchbacks. Both are recommended for more experience riders.
Want to know what the pros deal with? Give the Meerendal route a go! Meerendal is the prologue stage for the Absa Cape Epic and with a route made up of three inter-leading trails of 5km, 12km and 18km, you can expect 1-2 hours of riding depending on your ability.
The Cross Cape Cycle Route
The Cross Cape Cycle Route, stretching from Plettenberg Bay to Stellenbosch, encompasses the best of Cape Town and the Western Cape’s natural splendour, passing through a network of tracks that includes the Garden Route, Klein Karoo, Cape Overberg and, of course, the Cape Winelands.
The route caters to all levels of cyclists and incorporates road, mountain trail, jeep and forest tracks, crossing over one of the oldest mountain ranges on the planet and running through one of the richest, and most diverse, floral kingdoms in the world. There are plenty of stops along the route and you can explore at your own leisure as this is a self-catering ride. You map it out beforehand, book your accommodation and choose which sections you want to ride or skip. Just make sure you leave a couple of days spare so you can explore the Cape Winelands - Stellenbosch is your last stop on this epic journey and you don’t want to pass up the opportunity to explore all the farms along this iconic route.