South African Game Lodges - Game Reserves - Private Game ReservesPosted on by vrapto
Exploring iSimangaliso through adventure sport
Have you ever wished to be able to run or cycle through wild areas, off the tar and gravel and onto game paths and untouched plains? To traverse the high vegetated dunes, move through virgin coastal forest or thornveld? iSimangaliso has long recognised the deep connection that people have with nature and the yearning to interact at a closer level. This was the motivation behind two of the classic Eco-Series events that the Park has developed in recent years – the iSimangaliso MTB and the iSimangaliso Trail Challenge. Both events have been designed to bring participants into close contact with and offer a taste of some of the ecosystems in the World Heritage Site. If ever there was a reason to take up trail running or mountain biking, this is it!
There aren’t many places in the world where a trail run affords views like these. As organiser Andrew Booth of KZN Trail Running says: “The iSimangaliso Trail Challenge is a challenge and experience, more than just a trail run. It opens up an opportunity to explore the park on foot like never before.”
First up on the calendar is the iSimangaliso Trail Challenge powered by KZN Trail Running, taking place from 29 June – 1 July, from St Lucia’s Sugarloaf Campsite where the race village is set within earshot of hippos at the Lake St Lucia Estuary mouth. Right from the outset, the event is about spectators and family involvement with a 6km ‘Full Moon’ leg-stretcher beach run starting the weekend off on Friday 29 June, open to all (we’ll help you mind the hippos!). The next two days are far more hardcore, testing the mettle of runners with the Saturday route discovering the southernmost section of iSimangaliso towards Maphelane. Think pristine beaches, the Jolly Rubino shipwreck, dense coastal forest and miles of silent commune with nature. Sunday’s route is quite different as runners track over the soaring vegetated dunes of the Park’s Eastern Shores section overlooking sea and lake – under the watchful eye of armed rangers as the area is populated with elephant, buffalo, leopard and much more.
Riders on the redesigned ‘iSimangaliso MTB Adventure Tour’ can expect to be fully immersed in wild nature – with the opportunity to stop and smell the wildflowers, and spot birds and game along the route.
The incredibly exciting news from the iSimangaliso MTB organisers is that the event has been reshaped and modified this year as the iSimangaliso MTB Adventure Tour powered by Bell, following valuable feedback from past participants. Says organiser Shane Webster: “So many of our riders are here for the game, birds and bush, as much as the technical ride. Yes, the route will still offer plenty of raw MTB track, but we’ve done away with timing altogether. Instead, we now genuinely offer the full ‘safari in the saddle’ opportunity. Groups of ten riders will each be led by a qualified current or ex-ranger on a bike, intimately acquainted with the area and offering excellent bush skills. This allows the group to truly immerse themselves in a holistic experience, learning while riding hard through several ecosystems, big five game country, hippo and rhino paths, mountains, bush, wetlands and coastal forest. There will be exhilarating MTB challenges but also time to stop to watch and discuss an animal, bird or learn about an interesting tree. We are truly excited by this new model which we know will attract wildlife-lovers from around the world.”
“The ride this year will be condensed to three days rather than four, hopefully enabling more people to participate with less time required off work. We have also streamlined accommodation to a fully tented camp with either ‘glamping’ options or the usual rider’s tent village. We believe that this event is going to be the most rewarding iSimangaliso MTB yet!” says Webster.
“The best part about all of our iSimangaliso events,” says Marketing Manager Lindy Duffield, “is that you are supporting our conservation efforts with a compulsory contribution towards the iSimangaliso Rare and Endangered Species Fund for the monitoring, reintroduction and management of these animals in our World Heritage Site.”