Cycle Mashatu - A Soul Ride
"Everyone with a bike and a soul hungry for adventure should do this..."
A unique opportunity to ride at leisure along ancient elephant migration paths, cycle through vast herds of wildlife and to sleep under starlit African skies. Join us for this unforgettable wildlife biking experience in Mashatu, the “Land of the Giants”!
Let's take a look at the four day tour of Botswana's Mashatu Game reserve. The tour begins at the Border post with South Africa and from there an adventure awaits. A dedicated team ensures you are comfortable and safe throughout your rugged journey. Jeanne Kleu shares her experiences of this mountain biking safari with us...
It's 4am and time to leave our warm beds and be on our way to the soul capturing Botswana. Our group got together at a central meeting point in Joburg to get coffee and greet before we set out on the 5:30 hour drive to the border of South Africa and Botswana. There were enough fueling stations on the way, we stopped at Polokwane as well as Alldays to refuel our cars as well as ourselves.
When we arrived we parked our cars 200m from South Africa and hopped on our bikes, bright eyed and bushy tailed to cross the border on the bikes – ready for our new adventure.There are clean bathrooms and toilets at the border, this is great as you don’t have to sit in your cycling kit during the drive there and can quickly change clothes at the border. We were a group of 8 people, boys and girls celebrating life and dirt on the back of our bikes through the Botswana Nature Reserve.
We set off and in the first hour we were greeted by elephants and giraffes, the elephants were not as happy to see us as we were to see them, so we quickly changed direction and carried on with Day 1 through the reserve. With the Sun at our backs, our eyes filled with expectation, our minds alert for every sound and movement we continued to the tented campsite where we would stay for two nights. When we arrived, the food was already set out, our tents all up and cleaned and ICE COLD towels handed to us to wipe our faces.
The staff had all the drinks packed in coolers with ICE, even if you don’t normally drink Savanna, it becomes your favorite drink after a slow dirty ride. The soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are all charged for, you write it up in a book and pay for this at the end of the tour. The showers were luke warm and always ready when we arrived, I don’t want to give too much away as this is a great experience that you have to live for yourself, the same goes for the toilets.
July is very dry and pleasant during the day, it’s not too hot to cycle and no rain to stop the day; perfect time for this trip. It’s cold during the night so beanies, socks and sleeping bags are advisable. On day 2 we did a good 40km during the day, very slow with loads of stops in-between, this makes it easy for the beginner rider and you get a chance to appreciate nature and ALL the animals. There are many bird species to identify, the guide knows their calls as well as their names. The reserve is rich with so many different animals, but I don’t want to tell you too much as this is really fun to experience yourself and to see some animals that you didn’t expect to see.
Day 3 we left the tented campsite and off to the last camp site where we would be sleeping under the stars. When we arrived we were very happy to find running water from a tree as well a toilet that couldflush, some proper showers but we still had the bush experience under the starts. There is just something magical about sleeping under the start. The moon got so bright during the night that I woke up thinking that someone was shining a headlamp into my eyes, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was only the moon that woke me to listen to roaring lions, night owl calls, elephants settling down… and yes even a leopard roaming around.. and even some sounds that I couldn’t identify.
It’s a beautiful and thrilling experience. I’d rather be frightened by a lion’s roar than someone breaking into my house. I felt happy, safe and connected with nature. Day 4 – we cycled back to the border through the reserve and then a long dirt road. There are shower facilities before you cross the border, so you can hop in the shower and get ready to drive home in clean clothes.
This is a 5 STAR trip and highly recommended by myself and the group. There we re a few highlights from everyone worth mentioning:
1. Toilet facilities was something that came up in almost every conversation...
2. The staff and their service.
3. The coffee brewing on the fire – ready for youwhen you wake up.
4. The food ready every time you arrive back at camp site.
5. The staff cleaning everything for you.
6. The experience of cycling together with a herd of blue wildebeest running next to you, bucking and playing with each other as they show off their incredible bodies and the speed that they move at.
7. Tracking animals and the thrill of seeing the animal that you tracked.
8. The connection that you have with people on the trip.
9. CYBER DETOX for 3-4 days...
10. You can rent bikes and don’t have to transport your own bike there, this is affordable and the bikes that you rent is in great condition.
11. Game drives to a sunset spot each day.
SOME VITAL INFO ON THE TRIP
They can accommodate groups from 4-10 people at a time. The cost is +-R7000 per person depending on your travel company. Ours included two guides, two cooks and a seconding vehicle that drives your goods from camp to camp. You have three meals a day, and the food is great. Tea time is also included while on the mountain bikes and you get muffins/tea and coffee on the ride. Water is included, there is enough water for bottles, drinking, cooking, cleaning and showers, you don’t have to worry about packing additional water. Snacks to keep sugar levels up are recommended, but the cycling is not very difficult. An unfit person with limited skills can definitely enjoy this experience as much as the skilled fit person. The average pace is slow as this is a tour and not a race. (10km/h) The terrain is flat with a few river crossings that have loose sand. A MUST! Tubeless tyres. This is Africa! The guides do have pumps and spares with them, but it is recommended to take your own. The follow vehicle goes from site to site with your luggage, you don’t have to carry anything except your water bottles, snacks and sunscreen on the bike.
For more information visit their webiste at http://www.mtbsafaris.com/