When people from all over the world here ‘Africa’ or ‘safari’, the first activities that come to their minds are either game park visits seated in 4×4 vehicle seeing wildlife with their own eyes for the first time, sandy beaches, good weather or exotic and flavorful foods. Well, this continent is known for all those things and a lot more. However, there are other ways to shake things up and have the best time of your life on a safari instead of booking fancy hotels and seeing different places in a tour company van or bus.
Cycling is a recreational activity that serves a number of benefits, including health and leisure ones. It acts as a cherry on the cake if accompanied by a pleasant ride amidst the nature’s grip. It is always worth reading road and mountain bike reviews so see the best places to ride and the best bikes for the terrain before you travel.
Nothing can match the thrill of a safari on a bicycle. It enables you to witness the raw charm of nature and the lively wildlife as offered by the geography and the demographics of Africa.
As much as it is tiring and one might get a scrape here and a bruise there, it is very adventurous and fun! For the whole family. There’s something about cycling in numbers that brings about this feeling of happiness and togetherness. Just like when you were a child and cycling around with friends. If you had that experience when you were young, you know that feeling that comes, the feeling that you can conquer anything and go anywhere.
With that being said, there are many breathtaking places in southern Africa to go mountain biking or on a cycling safari. So get your cycling gear ready and let’s go!
The best cycling safaris in southern Africa –
- Matobo hills, Zimbabwe
- Ride the rift challenge, Albertine rift, Uganda
- Panorama route in Mpumalanga, South Africa
- Cape winelands and Hermanus, South Africa
- South Luangwa national park, Zambia
- Hwange national park, Zimbabwe
- Mashatu game reserve in the Tuli block, Botswana
- Mount Elgon national park, Uganda
- Lake Kivu, Rwanda
- Touring the substantial Zimbabwe Matobo hills by bicycle
The breathtaking cultural landscape mostly known for its granite rock formation and rock art that is found throughout the landscape is quite the sight to behold. Full of history going back a hundred thousand years qualifies it to be one of the best places to go on a cycling safari. The terrain perfectly allows it to be a fun-filled experience as one cycles through places that are considered to have marked important stages in human history and evolution.
Luckily, Amalinda lodge which can be found among the Matobo hills provides an awesome track to cycle blissfully through villages based at the foothills of the striking Matobo national park. This place provides a wonderful opportunity to disconnect from reality and reconnect with family and nature. While cycling, one can choose to visit locals in the area and get more acquainted with their way of life. This is made possible by Mother Africa Trust which Amalinda is a huge donor to among other lodges and camps nearby. It is a charity that ensures that people and communities in the region are assisted. This involves provision of food, school fees for children and also taking care of orphans. They also take part in protecting the endangered rhinos by contributing to the Matobo rhino fence project.
- Ride the rift challenge, Albertine rift, Uganda
The rift is highly popular throughout the continent for the biodiversity of the region. You shall come across a rare species of exotic butterflies and flowers that are exclusive to the region. While riding the bike, you can ask your team to stop while the guide informs you about the sightings and the birds you are intrigued by.
The mountainous region of Uganda serves as the home to the infamous Mount Elgon and Mount Albertine. A bicycle ride through the terrain is no less than an adventure sport. The eagles overhead can be spotted in the clear blue sky. The enchanting view and the diverse wildlife would cater to your wish the best if you take a safari ride on a bicycle.
- Cycling the famous panorama route in Mpumalanga, South Africa
Striking rock formations, immaculate mountain streams and flourishing vegetation covers the beautiful landscapes of Mount Anderson reserve. Now imagine seeing the whole of this scenery while cycling with your family or friends. Amazing, right?
With the wonderful terrain, you can enjoy your cycling safari not forgetting that there is plenty of wildlife and plant life to see. The Krueger national park benefits from the river catchments which are protected by the reserve. They have amazing staff that are well trained and can assist during biking trips. So don’t worry. Child, beginner or pro cyclist, a wonderful time and lots of fun are still guaranteed. They also have support vehicles on standby if there are some areas that can be challenging to cycle through.
- Exploring Cape winelands and Hermanus, South Africa
In best cycling safaris in southern Africa a short driving distance from Cape Town, the beautiful winelands region is a good destination to have a day trip to by cycling. There are also beautiful restaurants around that you can visit on your way. You can also ride to Hermanus (Overberg) region where the southern right whale comes to give birth at the bay after their migration from Antarctica. This place is known for the best whale watching experience. Boat based whale watching is also a service that is provided. It gives you a more intimate visual of the great creatures. Get to see the most amazing plant life and amazing wild flowers not found anywhere else come together in a riveting fashion.
- Cycling in the South Luangwa, Zambia
Bringing in a family atmosphere, Tafika camp located at a bend on the west bank of the Luangwa River found in the park is a beautiful spot to cycle at with family or friends. The staff is very hospitable and the atmosphere is very pleasant. They’ll go out of their way to meet your needs, and will always greet you with a warm smile. As a family-run camp, many of the staff has been with Tafika for years. Their genuine love of their work shows through everything they do, especially the meals. Mealtimes are community based meaning you might eat together with guides and the owners so don’t be bothered by that. They are warm people. The meals are sumptuous, and very accommodating to dietary restrictions, so don’t hesitate to ask.
A bunch of exciting activities are available. From taking safari walks in the morning (with a guide of course) to drives in a 4×4 game drive vehicle, you will enjoy every moment! One can take mountain bikes and cycle to the villages outside the park to meet the locals and interact with them. Zambia flourishes with beautiful wildlife and plant life and naturally the people are warm and social too. You will definitely experience this while cycling through the villages.
- Moving about by bicycle in Hwange national park, Zambia
This renowned beautiful park full of variety of wild life including the big five and other species of mammals should definitely be on your bucket list. The park is home to elephants and is known for regular sightings of cheetah, leopard and lion, as well as one of Africa’s largest populations of the endangered wild dog and rare species such as roan and sable. Birdwatchers will be impressed with the variety of species sighted .Cycling here will increase your adventurous spirit because it’s the wild and the next safari camp or village is a hundred kilometers away.
Jozibanini is a small camp that offers the best “being in the wild” experience. The serene environment being harmoniously synced with the bird songs provides a very calming and tranquil feel. While cycling the landscape is just an amazing place to take in.
- Cycling at the exhilarating Mashatu game reserve, Botswana
This is also one of the best places for cycling safaris in southern Africa. Although relaxation is the main thing here with the very comfortable and elegant lodges, people who desire the more intimate bush experience can lodge at the Mashatu tent camp. There are so many activities including vehicle safaris, feature horse-back safaris, walks in the wild and cycling safaris that can spice up things a bit. With professional guides, you are guaranteed one of the best cycling safaris in southern Africa. If lucky you can come across a herd of elephants grazing nearby during best cycling safaris in southern Africa!
Other unique best cycling safaris in southern Africa
Other than southern Africa, there are other places in Africa that can also give the best cycling safaris that I believe are worth mentioning.
During the safari to Rwanda, you shall spend an amazing day, cycling through the parks and exploring the nearby villages. You might want to interact with the villagers and the local fishermen and get to know the place better. A tour that is recreational as well as informative is what is desired my most. You shall visit the lake and the uninhabited islands for a picnic for relaxation after a hectic safari trip.
- Mount Elgon national park, Uganda–
It is the continent’s eighth largest mountain and is renowned for dense vegetation and lush green forests. While riding a bike, you shall encounter a diverse collection of flora and fauna that you might slow down to admire.
Cycle on Mount Elgon and through the Albertine rift while taking in the breathtaking landscape. If you are interested in something upbeat, why not take part in the Elgon Enduro or the Ride the Rift Challenge.
- Lake Kivu, Rwanda–
Spend your day cycling through villages along between villages along the coastline of Lake Kivu as you socialize with the locals and fishermen on your way. Kayaking around the shore of the lake or having a picnic on an uninhabited island is also a good way of finishing your day.
It is one of the African Great Lakes and is located in the Albertine Rift. This magnificent lake has been tourists’ attraction since time immemorial. One shall take a bicycle ride along the lake and experience the bedazzling creation of Mother Nature. You shall come across a number of rare migratory birds too.
Southern Africa is a home to a number of rare and unknown species of flora and fauna. Cycling through the realms of nature, under the clear blue sky on a bright sunny day, might be the recreational activity you needed. Travelling to Southern Africa is incomplete if you do not go on a safari ride on your bicycle. An experienced guide shall lead you through the tours. In order to ensure safety, you must take necessary precautions and abide by the guide’s instructions.
A trip is best cycling safaris in southern Africa to Southern Africa can present you with a number of introspective opportunities and if planned efficiently, you shall not be disappointed. The enchanting creation of nature cannot be truly witnessed until you visit Africa. The Southern region is versatile and shall suit your expectations.
Well, with all the information laid out, you are now all set for your safaris and embracing cycling safaris as a new activity! Always remember to have fun. Whether it is on the slopes of the Matobo hills or the coastline of Lake Kivu, just have a good time while cycling. Africa is also a beautiful vast continent that has man other places for cycling safaris that has not been mentioned here so feel free to also check out other places that have not been mentioned.