Last week saw the inaugural Isimangaliso 4 Day mountain bike eco ride start in Mkhuze game reserve and finish on Sunday in the coastal village of St Lucia. The 100 teams of two riders per team saw 200 participants navigate a surreal and unique journey across one of the most diverse and scenically beautiful area in South Africa. Apart from strong winds on stage 1 of the event the weather was superb and ideal for the riders.
Stage 1 saw the riders climb the Lebombo mountains which overlook the Makhatini flats and the coastal plane to St Lucia with the overnight camp at Mantuma Camp in Mkhuze game reserve. Stage 2 passed through Phinda’s Big 5 game reserve before meandering through the sand forests of False Bay Park and along the shoreline of Lake St Lucia. Exiting Dukandhlovu gate the riders entered Hluhluwe River Lodge where our chefs had prepared a treat for the exhausted and weary riders.
Chocolate cake, freshly brewed filter coffee or a hot cup of tea seemed to work a miracle on the riders as they relaxed on the lodge terrace and took in the stunning view. There was lots of banter and a few complaints of sore joints, aching backs and the need for cold beer. With the finish just 7 kilometers away it was clear that everyone would have liked to have stayed right where they were and begrudgingly mounted their bikes before pressing on.
Saturday dawned and it was an early start for the Hluhluwe River Lodge team responsible for marking and directing the riders for the first 15 kilometers of the third stage across the Hluhluwe river floodplain. What a joy it was to see everyone enjoying the raw beauty of this area and all made special by the appearance of a flock of Flamingo’s at the Nkundusi peninsula. School children turned out in their droves to cheer the riders on as young herd boys drove their cattle onto the grassy plains.
Congratulations to ride organizer Shane Webster, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the riders and all the community who participated in making the event a success and for putting our beautiful area on show in such a unique manner. Hluhluwe River Lodge salutes you all and we look forward to welcoming you again. If you visit Hluhluwe River lodge please bring your bikes, we have something special to show you.