Need a road trip on your bike? Here are 6 popular routes in SA

Dries van der Walt
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 THROUGH SA ON A BIKE: Each of South Africa's provinces offer something unique to bikers. And that something is mountain passes of note. Image: Dries van der Walt ~ Wheels24

Cape Town - With its variety of scenery, almost perfect weather and extensive road infrastructure, South Africa is definitely among the world’s top biking countries.

Although road maintenance is not always up to par (to put it mildly), there are very nice routes within a reasonable distance from most major cities.

In this article, I’m going to look at a few that I have personal experience of:

1 Western Cape - Bain’s Kloof Pass

Those living in the Western Cape are spoilt for choice, with several mountain passes and scenic coastal routes in close proximity of Cape Town. But if you want to venture a little further afield, I would definitely recommend the Bain’s Kloof Pass on the R301 between Wellington and Ceres.

The road surface is a little iffy, and I wouldn’t suggest tackling it with a sport bike, but for a rider on a tourer or adventure bike it offers 28km of beautiful scenery and challenging curves. 

Image: Dries van der Walt

2 Eastern Cape - Baviaanskloof

If you find yourself in the Eastern Cape and you are feeling adventurous, Baviaanskloof should be on your itinerary. Stretching almost 200km from Patensie to Willowmore, the untarred road takes you through almost pristine wilderness and offers spectacular views.

However, some sections of this road are very technical, and I wouldn’t recommend for riders with limited or no off-road experience. Due to the roughness of the road, especially in the mountainous sections, this route is best suited to adventure bikes.

Image: Dries van der Walt

3 Free State - Golden Gate

Although most of the Free State is notoriously flat, the eastern portion of this province offers fun riding. One of my favourites in this province is the R712 between Harrismith and Clarens. The route takes you through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, and offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.

There are also a myriad of looping side roads to explore, most of which are tarred – you’ll be able to enjoy the area irrespective of what bike you ride.

Image: Dries van der Walt

4 Kwazulu-Natal - Midlands Meander

KZN is renowned for its warm ocean and golden beaches, but the Midlands offer good biking roads for when you visit the province on two wheels.

The Midlands Meander, situated between Pietermaritzburg in the east and the Drakensberg in the west, offers beautiful rolling hills and reasonably good roads with long sweeping curves, interspersed with plethora of accommodation facilities and restaurants. Although suitable to any kind of bike, it is probably best experienced at a slow pace on a cruiser or tourer.

Image: Dries van der Walt

5 Gauteng - Cradle of Humankind

One of the most popular bike routes for Gauteng riders is the Cradle of Humankind. Within spitting dis-tance of both Pretoria and Joburg, the Cradle offers a good riding experience in addition to being an area of archeological importance.

A breakfast run to Magalliesburg or any of the restaurants around Hartebeestpoort Dam, followed by a ride through the area’s curvy roads and terminating in a visit to Maropeng, the Cradle’s visitor centre is one of the best ways to while away a Sunday morning.

Image: Dries van der Walt

6 Eastern Mpumalanga - escarpment edge

The escarpment edge in Eastern Mpumalanga is another popular biker destination, and with good reason. It hosts a number of exciting passes, such as Long Tom Pass, Robber’s Pass and Koewyns Pass, as well as the “Twenty Two”, the popular collection of twisties between Sabie and Hazyview.

Apart from great riding, there is much to see in this area, such as the historic hamlet of Pilgrims Rest, the sheer drop of God’s Window and the wild horses at Kaapse Hoop. From twisties to sweeping curves to plantation roads, this area offers something for almost every kind of bike, plus some of the best scenery in the country.

Image: Dries van der Walt

So, there you have it: a summary of some of my favourite biking roads. What are yours? Let us know on Facebook, and who knows, we might feature your route in a future article.