Cycling is an ideal activity to include in an active travel itinerary, with various areas in Africa providing a spectacular backdrop. Kim Emmanuel rounds up options ranging from fully fledged cycle tours to day excursions.

Gourmet cycle tour

People looking for new experiences, cycle enthusiasts, foodies, couples, families, and private groups are all sure to enjoy the Gourmet Cycle tour, says Cameron Murray of Escape Cycle Tours.

The tour takes place in a little Karoo town, Prince Albert, over a period of seven days and six nights. Guests are treated to gourmet cooking experiences throughout. The group cycle through Meiringspoort Pass, up Swartberg Pass, towards Gamkaskloof (Die Hel), to Weltevrede fig farm. A maximum of 12 cyclists can be accommodated on the tour.

Gourmet breakfasts served out in the open with the surrounding views of nature is what makes this cycling trip a unique experience, says Murray. Interesting activities to be enjoyed on the tour include star gazing and a talk by an astronomer, olive tasting, wine tasting, and cookery lessons at African Relish.

Guests have three options available to access the starting point of the tour. The first is to take a road trip with Escape Cycle Tours in an air-conditioned vehicle from Johannesburg. Guests will overnight in Kuilfontein at Kuilfontein Stable Cottages and can enjoy an afternoon mountain bike ride. Another option is to self-drive to Prince Albert, in which case the tour will be five nights and six days. The final option is to fly to George Airport where Escape Cycle Tours will arrange a transfer to Prince Albert.

Tours can also be extended (on request) to include the Garden route, Route 62, Winelands and Cape Town.

Cape winelands cycle tour

Credit: AWOL Tours

The Winelands Constantia cycling tour offered by Awol Tours allows guests to experience the Constantia Cape wine route with a private guide for the morning.

Guests are met at their accommodation and transferred to the Constantia Valley where they visit the Groot Constantia Estate and are introduced to the valley’s award-winning wines. From there, cyclists can either cycle on tarred roads through the suburbs to the next wine estate, or take a newly opened entry-level mountain bike trail through the Constantia Greenbelt.

Along the route guests will pass some fine examples of Cape Dutch architecture and indulge in some of the best wines.

Winelands Cycling Meander is another option, which includes tours through either Stellenbosch or Franschhoek. Cyclists start their journey at Lanzerac wine estate, in Stellenbosch and continue to Jonkershoek Valley. On the Franschhoek option, cyclists will visit the Huguenot Monument.

Township bicycle tours

Cycling through a township gives visitors an interesting viewpoint from which to view the area and experience the local atmosphere.

African Public Bicycles offers bicycle tours through Alexandra Township, where local guide, Jeff Mulaudzi, takes guests to meet the people, taste the food and enjoy a drink.

There are two options on offer. A two-hour tour includes visits to a local shebeen, the first primary school in Alexandra, as well a house that Nelson Mandela lived in. The other tour takes four hours and includes lunch, a hostel tour and beer tasting as well as a visit to a local shebeen, the first primary school in Alexandra and Nelson Mandela's former house.

"Touring in a bus is like visiting a zoo. I want people to communicate and interact with Alex and its people," says Mulaudzi.

Cycling through the bush

The breeding area of Lalibela Game Reserve is ideal for a bush cycling activity that guests staying at the reserve can enjoy between game drives. There are three different cycling tracks: the black route is dedicated to advanced riders, the red route for average riders, and the blue route for beginner cyclists. The breeding area is close to 3 000 hectares.

What’s nice about the area, says Vernon Wait, Marketing Director at Lalibela, is that cyclists will more than likely see wildebeest, zebra and giraffe. “And they’ll be within a few metres of those animals, and that’s cycling with a difference.”

He says travellers are becoming much more active. Whereas before guests would be happy to laze at the pool, read a book or relax between morning and evening game drives, there’s an increasing demand from travellers wanting to do things in their down time. “It’s a function of the fact that we’re more active these days.”