South Africa MTB/Climb - October 2021

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JulianSmith
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South Africa MTB/Climb - October 2021

Post by JulianSmith »

Hello All,

Trying to figure out a trip to SA in late October. Anyone with MTB and climbing experience/recommendations near Cape Town?

Is October a doable month for MTB and climbing near Cape Town? (looks cooler perhaps, and not so rainy...)

What is getting around inside the country/city like? Is a rental vehicle the way to go? Will public transportation work okay for these 2 activities?

Any recommendations for a good place to rent higher-end MTBs in Cape Town?

What am I forgetting to ask?

My son (33) and I are looking for an adventure (2 weeks) and have no solid plans. We are thinking of trying to combine exotic location (for us), MTB, sport climbing, and great food along with whatever other activities I am forgetting to ask about.

Open to suggestions for other places to go as well. We have travelled a bit in Europe and all over the US, just to let you know where we have been. We have also been talking about Vietnam or Thailand, but don't know if that would be better than SA.

Thanks for any advice anyone may have.

Cheers.
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andrew85
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Re: South Africa MTB/Climb - October 2021

Post by andrew85 »

Rentals are extremely cheap in South Africa, especially if you go with a manual. Public transportation will get you where you need to go, but for the price point and conveninece factor I'd go with a rental. I don't know too much about Cape Town as I've only been there once, but the the last time I was in South Africa visiting family in Johannesburg and Durban I spent three days in Cape Town with my cousin where we just used a rental and got an Airbnb. Table Mountain definitely has mountain biking trails (not sure if any of them go to the summit) and climbing opportunites as I saw multiple anchors around the summit (pictured below). I took the Platteklip Gorge route which is very similar to the Manitou Incline in terms of elevation gain and difficulty. I posted about it last year where you can see many of the surrounding trails https://www.instagram.com/p/CHwVmDFFQBA. It might be a little cool still, we went in November as summer was approaching and it was still a little chilly. As for food, you can't really go wrong with any seafood place down there. I forgot the name of where we went, I just remember tasting the ocean in the meat like it was just cought ten minutes ago (lol probably not that much of an exaggeration). And if you really want to go off the beaten path, I'd recommend finding a place where you can get Shisa nyama where you can basically choose your cut of meat and they'll braai (barbeque) it for you. If you go to one of those, definitely try the boerewors (spiced sausage)! Hope you're able to find out more about the mountain biking situation but if do end up going, have fun!
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TomPierce
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Re: South Africa MTB/Climb - October 2021

Post by TomPierce »

I've never been to SA, and you probably already have this but if not, here ya go:

https://www.mountainproject.com/area/10 ... uth-africa

-Tom
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JulianSmith
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Re: South Africa MTB/Climb - October 2021

Post by JulianSmith »

andrew85 wrote: Tue Jun 08, 2021 9:36 am Rentals are extremely cheap in South Africa, especially if you go with a manual. Public transportation will get you where you need to go, but for the price point and conveninece factor I'd go with a rental. I don't know too much about Cape Town as I've only been there once, but the the last time I was in South Africa visiting family in Johannesburg and Durban I spent three days in Cape Town with my cousin where we just used a rental and got an Airbnb. Table Mountain definitely has mountain biking trails (not sure if any of them go to the summit) and climbing opportunites as I saw multiple anchors around the summit (pictured below). I took the Platteklip Gorge route which is very similar to the Manitou Incline in terms of elevation gain and difficulty. I posted about it last year where you can see many of the surrounding trails https://www.instagram.com/p/CHwVmDFFQBA. It might be a little cool still, we went in November as summer was approaching and it was still a little chilly. As for food, you can't really go wrong with any seafood place down there. I forgot the name of where we went, I just remember tasting the ocean in the meat like it was just cought ten minutes ago (lol probably not that much of an exaggeration). And if you really want to go off the beaten path, I'd recommend finding a place where you can get Shisa nyama where you can basically choose your cut of meat and they'll braai (barbeque) it for you. If you go to one of those, definitely try the boerewors (spiced sausage)! Hope you're able to find out more about the mountain biking situation but if do end up going, have fun!
Thanks Andrew; that's some great advice!
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JulianSmith
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Re: South Africa MTB/Climb - October 2021

Post by JulianSmith »

TomPierce wrote: Tue Jun 08, 2021 9:52 am I've never been to SA, and you probably already have this but if not, here ya go:

https://www.mountainproject.com/area/10 ... uth-africa

-Tom
Thanks Tom. I have a post in the international forum on MP too for the same question. Cheers.

Julian
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Re: South Africa MTB/Climb - October 2021

Post by JtheChemE »

JulianSmith wrote: Mon Jun 07, 2021 2:28 pm
What is getting around inside the country/city like? Is a rental vehicle the way to go? Will public transportation work okay for these 2 activities?
ZA is an incredible place. I spent a month working there in 2019, mostly Durban and Joberg, and had fully intended to go back to explore further in 2020. Of course Covid got in the way. I second the rental car, they are very cheap. However, they are also very small, and you won't likely fit two MTB unless you pay a steep premium for a larger size.

Depending on how long your trip is, if you are after more remote mountain feel, I recommend you do some research into the Drakensberg. As for Cape Town, somebody mentioned Table Mountain, which is neat but also touristy. Sport climbing is popular. The Western Cape can be pretty unpleasant in Winter (that's when I was in ZA) but by Spring (October) the majority of activities around Cape Town should be good to go.

I've a friend who currently lives in Cape Town and I am still hoping to visit during the ZA summer this year. Hearing updates from him, things are still quite rough with covid at the moment, and it's not entirely likely to be dramatically improved by October given the poor vaccine rollout in ZA. The government seems to implement sweeping lockdowns and curfew with little notice or reason, which can very quickly derail a trip. Just something I am considering for my own trip. Also as a big part of the charm of ZA are the incredible people and immersing in the unique culture, which is certainly more difficult with covid.

Just remember while driving on the left side of the road, the robots can be confusing. If you want to discuss brass tacks about ZA, feel free to shoot me a PM.
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Re: South Africa MTB/Climb - October 2021

Post by martinleroux »

JtheChemE wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 9:06 amJust remember while driving on the left side of the road, the robots can be confusing.
Also remember that "robots" in S African English aren't what you might think! That's what they call traffic lights.

Re the weather, it's been many years since I lived in S Africa but as I recall October is a pretty good month to visit Cape Town. There may be some late-season rain, but if you've got a rental vehicle (or "hired car") then you can easily drive inland a few hours to somewhere like Montagu, which is usually drier. One advantage of October is that it avoids the gale-force South-Easter winds that sweep Cape Town between November and March.
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JulianSmith
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Re: South Africa MTB/Climb - October 2021

Post by JulianSmith »

JtheChemE wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 9:06 am
JulianSmith wrote: Mon Jun 07, 2021 2:28 pm
What is getting around inside the country/city like? Is a rental vehicle the way to go? Will public transportation work okay for these 2 activities?
ZA is an incredible place. I spent a month working there in 2019, mostly Durban and Joberg, and had fully intended to go back to explore further in 2020. Of course Covid got in the way. I second the rental car, they are very cheap. However, they are also very small, and you won't likely fit two MTB unless you pay a steep premium for a larger size.

Depending on how long your trip is, if you are after more remote mountain feel, I recommend you do some research into the Drakensberg. As for Cape Town, somebody mentioned Table Mountain, which is neat but also touristy. Sport climbing is popular. The Western Cape can be pretty unpleasant in Winter (that's when I was in ZA) but by Spring (October) the majority of activities around Cape Town should be good to go.

I've a friend who currently lives in Cape Town and I am still hoping to visit during the ZA summer this year. Hearing updates from him, things are still quite rough with covid at the moment, and it's not entirely likely to be dramatically improved by October given the poor vaccine rollout in ZA. The government seems to implement sweeping lockdowns and curfew with little notice or reason, which can very quickly derail a trip. Just something I am considering for my own trip. Also as a big part of the charm of ZA are the incredible people and immersing in the unique culture, which is certainly more difficult with covid.

Just remember while driving on the left side of the road, the robots can be confusing. If you want to discuss brass tacks about ZA, feel free to shoot me a PM.
Sweet; thanks for the reply. I am beginning to wrap my mind around all this. Thanks for all of your advice. Really hoping the COVID stuff lets up before we are ready to travel. We are fully vaxed and the CDC says we should be safe to travel there, but who knows what the international scene will look like by then. We traveled to Albania last September no problems at all, except everything was closed in the Frankfurt airport, but I think we kind of slipped through the cracks back then and travel will be a little more complicated this year...

Cheers,
Julian
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Re: South Africa MTB/Climb - October 2021

Post by JulianSmith »

martinleroux wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:46 pm
JtheChemE wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 9:06 amJust remember while driving on the left side of the road, the robots can be confusing.
Also remember that "robots" in S African English aren't what you might think! That's what they call traffic lights.

Re the weather, it's been many years since I lived in S Africa but as I recall October is a pretty good month to visit Cape Town. There may be some late-season rain, but if you've got a rental vehicle (or "hired car") then you can easily drive inland a few hours to somewhere like Montagu, which is usually drier. One advantage of October is that it avoids the gale-force South-Easter winds that sweep Cape Town between November and March.
Awesome; many thanks for the advice. Glad to hear the info about the winds. I had not picked up on that anywhere else.

Cheers,
Julian
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lodgling
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Re: South Africa MTB/Climb - October 2021

Post by lodgling »

It has been about 20 years, but I spent 7 months there. Are you wedded to Cape Town? If I were you, I would fly into Cape Town, but then immediately catch a flight to Durban. Then get a one-way rental car and take two weeks to get back to Cape Town for your return flight. You can easily get up to the Drakensburg from there and then start heading south. There is great hiking along the coast in the Wild Coast. Tsitsitkamma national park. Shark cage diving in Mossel Bay. Lots of ideas for you, feel free to run thing by me.
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Re: South Africa MTB/Climb - October 2021

Post by JulianSmith »

lodgling wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 5:07 pm It has been about 20 years, but I spent 7 months there. Are you wedded to Cape Town? If I were you, I would fly into Cape Town, but then immediately catch a flight to Durban. Then get a one-way rental car and take two weeks to get back to Cape Town for your return flight. You can easily get up to the Drakensburg from there and then start heading south. There is great hiking along the coast in the Wild Coast. Tsitsitkamma national park. Shark cage diving in Mossel Bay. Lots of ideas for you, feel free to run thing by me.
Sweet; thanks for the reply. I am now thinking of doing something more opposite; flying into Johannesburg and then using it as a hub to fly into and out of other regions in the county. When I look at drive times in Google maps, it looks like ZA is a big place. Am I wrong in thinking of it more in terms of visiting America and saying let's go see something in LA and NY?

So, I was thinking of spending a week just touring around up in the northern part of ZA, and then heading down to Cape Town for another week of snorkeling, mountain biking, and perhaps some sport climbing, if I can find some gear to rent. If climbing doesn't work out, no big deal. We won't be taking much stuff with us (climbing gear or anything else). I am thinking of renting mountain bikes for just Cape Town, and not trying to lug them around the country.

Flying into Johannesburg from the US seems slightly shorter and cheaper than Cape Town, and flights from Johannesburg to other places in ZA ,and also adjacent countries, looks pretty cheap too.

At this point we are not particularly wedded to anything, or any particular country. We have a couple of weeks in late October/early November to go a little further afield than we have previously; perhaps either east or south.

I love the planning. Thanks so much for the ideas.
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lodgling
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Re: South Africa MTB/Climb - October 2021

Post by lodgling »

Joburg was where I lived. From there you could hit a private game lodge just outside of Krueger. There are ok top rope routes in “kloofs” on the way there. Victoria falls is a short plane ride away.

SA looks big but you can cover a lot of ground fast. Most of the roads are paved and in good condition and if you are comfortable with it you can drive 100mph (again this was 20 years ago so not legal advice) and people pull over to the shoulders in both directions so you can pass with the center lane down the middle of your car. A little intense but you get used to it. That is not the case beyond its borders, where things turn to dirt and drive times are slow and unpredictable.

But yes, the regional flights work well. But from there you can probably multiply those drive times by about .5 to .75 to get of feel for your range.

Also, the “baz bus” is a slower but cheaper option to get around and can be linked up with all over. Hostels are called “backpackers” and they are (were) in great condition. The baz bus picks up and drops off at the front door of the bpers. Mixed them in with stays at extremely nice bed and breakfasts to offset total cost.

Definitely make it to the Wild Coast though.
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