Ride in the Wild
Words Romi Boom, pics courtesy of Naturesport Company
Imagine pedalling along a famous game corridor as you make your way from Addo to the Garden Route. That’s what awaits on the Wild Corridor MTB Tour, a new initiative that brings together cycling and conservation. Romi Boom questions Wild Card programme manager Hein Grobler about the ride.
Q. What does “corridor” mean?
A. A biodiversity corridor is a strip of land that expands and links protected areas. Corridors act as passages for plants, animals, insects, birds to move from one region to the next. The aim of a biodiversity corridor is to conserve threatened and endemic species, to annex a stretch of land in which mammals can migrate and wander across, restoring the natural balance of things. In light of climate change, they also play a vital role in allowing species to move from a warmer to a cooler region, and the other way around.
Q. What is the Addo to Eden Biodiversity Corridor?
A. It links the Garden Route National Park, the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve and the Addo Elephant National Park along natural corridors. The way humans fragment and divide land has led to a decrease of biodiversity and death of species. The corridor seeks to connect species and communities, hopefully reversing the local extinction of species. A far-reaching dream underlies the project, that is to restore the ancient elephant migration paths across the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, and to see the effects this would have on the ecological balance of the region.
Corridors are a way to forge a bond between conservation and agriculture. Conservation bodies assist landowners to improve the way they manage the economic, social and ecological aspects of their environment. Healthy, connected landscapes and habitats improve well-being in local communities and develop local economies. But to get buy-in from these communities for corridors, education about conservation is key.
Q. How does mountain biking help?
A. The Wild Corridor Mountain Bike Ride is a five-day cycling extravaganza both for and about conservation, traversing a unique route through some of the most biodiverse terrain on the planet. The event is linked with social upliftment and conservation while also creating awareness of the Wild brand and its conservation mission. In addition, the tour will be twinning with schools along the route to raise awareness and leave a legacy of conservation through education. There is passion behind the pedal!
Q. Is this event a spin-off from mountain-bike trails in Kruger National Park?
A. In a way, yes. I have long nurtured a passion for mountain biking and was involved in the launch of the mountain bike trails from Olifants Camp in September 2003. The procedure for bike trails in Kruger is very similar to the guided bush walks. Two qualified and armed field guides lead the trails. Olifants Camp supplies the mountain bikes along with backpacks, water bottles, bicycle helmets and snacks. Full bush interpretation is done on the trail and guides discuss interesting nature signs and wildlife sightings. Participants on the Corridor ride will get to enjoy five days of incredible scenery and wildlife.
Q. What can you tell us about the route?
A. Starting outside Addo Elephant park in the Springbokvlakte, the tour covers 400 km over five days. Participants will cycle over the breathtaking Cockscomb into Patensie, wind their way through the pristine wilderness of the Baviaanskloof and Garden Route National Park, finishing off on the beach in beautiful Plettenberg Bay. The awe-inspiring homeward stretch is through magnificent indigenous forest, emerging to spectacular sea views.
Each overnight location has been chosen for its individual character. After a day spent cycling through the countryside, riders will arrive at camps already set up so they can simply relax, enjoy cold beverages, sumptuous food and fireside camaraderie. Since it is about the experience, there will be ample time for refreshing dips and game-viewing opportunities en route.
There will be a total of 9,652 metres of climbing and 10,124 metres of descent, including various technical sections. The riders will be seeded into groups based on the pace with which they are comfortable. Are you up to the challenge?
Wild Corridor MTB Tour
19 to 24 October 2015
In partnership with SANParks’ Wild Card Programme
Visit www.wildcorridor.co.za to enter
Source: Wild Magazine