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TThe Freedom Trail is a mountain bike route that traverses South Africa. It’s incredibly scenic, passing mountains, criss-crossing valleys and venturing into untouched wilderness areas. It includes dozens of historical and palaeontological sites, making it a fascinating way to see the country’s many highlights.
The Freedom Trail runs for 2 350km from Durban on the East Coast to Cape Town on the Atlantic seaboard.
It’s a highly celebrated South African mountain-biking trail, as it includes some of the most awe-inspiring scenery, combined with the warm hospitality for which the country is renowned.
You’ll see amazing geological and natural diversity along the route. Covering seven terrestrial biomes, six mountain ranges, two national parks, one transfrontier national park and several provincial nature reserves, it offers an ever-changing, fascinating landscape.
The Freedom Trail is open all year round, allowing riders to tackle all or parts of it at their leisure. You can ride alone or as part of a group, self-guided or supported with the assistance of accredited tour operators. Either way, you can tailor-make the route to include the areas you’d most like to visit.
There are a number of tour options to choose, all of which are based on daily riding times of 6 to 8 hours, allowing for adequate rests along the way and mid-afternoon finishes at designated overnight stops.
These include the complete Freedom Trail (27 nights), Port Elizabeth to Cape Town (14 nights), Pietermaritzburg to Swartberg (5 nights), Pietermaritzburg to Rhodes (9 nights) and Port Elizabeth to Prince Albert (7 nights).
Accommodation en route ranges from fully serviced cottages in nature reserves, to B&Bs, country hotels and game lodges. There’s even a refurbished cave and a South African War blockhouse.
Hearty South African meals are provided at all accommodation stops, including dinner, breakfast and a packed lunch for the route that lies ahead. Water is available every two to three hours on the trail.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
The Freedom Trail
Tel: +27 (0)76 571 5990
How to get here
You can pick up the trail at any of the towns along the route, which can all be accessed by major highways. Travel to the start of the trail in Pietermaritzburg via the N3 from Durban, the N3/N5 from Bloemfontein or the N2 from Eastern Cape. Access the other end of trail from Cape Town.
Best time to visit
The Freedom Trail is open all year round. Autumn (March – May) and spring (September – early November) are the best months to ride, as summers (November – February) are very hot and winters (June – August) very cold, with frequent snowfalls along the route.
Around the area
While in KwaZulu-Natal, tour the historic battlefields, Drakensberg Mountains and the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands on the Midlands Meander. In Eastern Cape, visit the Addo Elephant National Park and Baviaanskloof, and in Western Cape, make sure you tour the Winelands region, where the trail ends.
What to eat
You will be served traditional South African food at the various accommodation establishments along the way, including traditional African fare at the homestays in local communities. Popular dishes here would include potjiekos (stew made in a cast-iron pot) and bobotie (Cape Malay curry).