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South Africa

A feast for the senses: day after day of stunning landscapes, luxurious accommodations, wild safari adventures, incredible gourmet cuisine, and world famous wines make this undoubtedly our ‘Queen Tour.’

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South Africa

November 23 – December 10, 2024

Tour Description

South Africa Bike Tour – Whether viewing lions and elephants during our first day’s safari, riding through the lush coastal rainforest of Tsitsikamma National Park, dipping your toes in two different oceans, or sipping some of the world’s finest wine overlooking the rolling vineyards of Stellenbosch, each and every day of this tour delivers an unforgettable experience. Theres a reason that most of our clients have called this a ‘trip of a lifetime.’

Magic Places rates 6 out of 5 stars in my books! Cycle touring is a fantastic way to travel and the MP team make it, well magical. Carefully selected locations and routes, attention to detail, and so much fun you’ll want to sign up again and again. I know I do!
-Jody Ritchie (South Africa, Mallorca)
Read More Testimonials Here

Over our 22 years of tours in South Africa, we’ve painstakingly curated what we think is a darn-near perfect tour.  There is just so much to see along the southern coast of South Africa that a one or two week tour wouldn’t do it justice, so we’ve created an unforgettable 18-day, 1,200-kilometre bicycle adventure immerses you in a remarkable country of amazing contrasts.  Yes, the bike is our main means of transport (with a support van carrying our gear and providing our lunches), but with such diverse and beautiful landscapes, we’ve included a number of off-bike activities that make this trip so memorable.

We start at the southeastern tip of SA, in Port Elizabeth with a safari through Addo Elephant Park, a vast wilderness reserve. Have your camera ready for close-ups of roaming elephants, giraffes, antelopes and rhinos. Next we ride through the famed Garden Route, famous for tropical forests, exotic birds and plants, reed-banked rivers and pristine beaches. Throw in a coastal hike along the roaring Indian Ocean and a ride through the rainforest along a decommissioned road and you’ll see why this area deserves its UNESCO Heritage status.

Leaving the coast at Mossel Bay, the road climbs over Robinson Pass and winds down into the land of the ostrich known as the Klein Karoo with magnificent landscapes of towering cliffs and clear streams. The abundance of trees and vegetation makes it one of South Africa’s most diverse natural regions so we stay two days here, offering side trips to explore the wondrous Cango Caves, hike to the scenic crest of the Swartberg mountains, and have an up-close and personal experience with the elephants at Buffelsdrift game reserve.

Riding west, we pass through arid semi-desert and crest a mountain pass to emerge into the verdant, rolling vineyards of the Cape Winelands – home to numerous world class wineries.  Savour the wines, enjoy exquisite cuisine and take in the dramatic views of craggy limestone peaks as we spend five days exploring this unique corner of South Africa.

We’ve left the best for last! No words can adequately describe the scenic beauty our final stretch of the tour has to offer.  We return to the coast through picturesque countryside dotted with vineyards, Cape Dutch homes, and historical villages such as Franschhoek.  Now, riding along the Atlantic Ocean, we hug the coastline along spectacular roads hewn from the cliff, through quaint surf towns, the Cape of Good Hope, and the incomparable Chapman’s Peak Drive (arguably the world’s most beautiful road) until we finally reach our destination of Cape Town, one of the world’s most beautiful and modern cities.

 

Tour Highlights

  • Enjoy a traditional South African braii (bbq) in the ranch house after spending a full day on safari, viewing Africa’s ‘big five’ in their natural habitats;
  • Sip a glass of world-class pinotage while dining on an organic, farm-to-table feast at Val du Charon winery after riding the incomparable Bains Kloof pass.
  • Ride your bike to the very tip of Africa and come face to face with the power and intensity of the mighty Atlantic Ocean.
  • Race an ostrich down the road on your bike, or take a crack at actually riding one in the Klein Karoo!
  • Ride Chapman’s Peak Drive, come home, and tell your friends you’ve ridden the most visually stunning coastal road in the world, period.
  • Hike the ruggedly beautiful coastline of Tsitsikamma National Park, a lush garden of rainforest and jungle butting up against the crashing Indian Ocean.

Package Includes

  • 17 nights of accommodation in 4-star hotels or lodges;
  • Three healthy delicious meals each day plus snacks and non-alcoholic drinks;
  • All transfers in our comfortable 14-seater van, which also serves as a support vehicle each day;
  • Transport of luggage and bicycles in an enclosed trailer;
  • Fees to National Parks;
  • All activities, which are included in our program (safaris, wine tours etc.);
  • One professional grade set of custom Magic Places cycling kit;
  • Our personalized and friendly service;

Optional Services Include

  • Single Occupancy Room Supplement: $1800
  • Rental Bike: Price Upon Request

Tour FAQ

1. What does a typical day look like?

7:30am to 9:00am – Breakfast buffet in our hotel.
9:30am – Ride departure – ride at your own pace.
12:00 – 1:00pm – Lunch stop enroute – normally a delicious picnic at a scenic stop.
2:00 – 5:00pm – Arrive hotel mid afternoon: enjoy a post-ride drink with the group and have the rest of the day to yourself to explore or relax in our comfortable lodgings.
7:00  Group dinner at our hotel or a nearby restaurant as arranged by your guides.

2. Where do I fly in and out of?

  • Plan to arrive in Port Elizabeth (airport identifier PLZ) no later than mid-day November 23;
  • Plan to depart Cape Town (airport identifier CPT) no earlier than December 10.

3. What if I want to arrive before or stay after the tour?

Please contact us and we coordinate pickup and drop-off as well as offer assistance in booking extra accommodations to suit your needs.

4. What is the terrain like?

In a word: Incredible!  Because we’re touring through such diverse terrain, one day you’ll be riding over a mountain pass, the other you’ll be on a flat coastal road along the ocean.  In general, you can expect rolling terrain with a few long climbs sprinkled throughout the tour, and the riding is certainly manageable for any recreational cyclist.

5. What are the accommodations like?

Because we’ve been visiting South Africa for so many years, we’ve discovered a collection of beautiful guesthouses and boutique hotels that are truly wonderful places to stay.  Almost exclusively 4-star, all our accommodation partners are renowned for their hospitality and high standards.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Magic Places greets you at the Port Elizabeth airport, and before you know it, you are unpacking your bags and bikes in the garden of beautiful First Avenue Lodge in Summerstrand, only half a block from the Indian Ocean. We toast to the start of a terrific tour and dine in a fine restaurant that sets the mood for the rest of the tour, elegance and excitement.

Day 2: En route to today’s destination, Addo Elephant Park, we gather many impressions of African countryside and daily life. Once at the vast park, our excitement of seeing elephants in their true surroundings is nearly uncontainable. After an authentic African lunch, we continue to neighboring Schotia Game Reserve and to an unforgettable safari, packed with sightings of lions, giraffes, zebras, antilopes and rhinos. We end the day with a dinner which is usually a mix of safari cuisine and traditional South African cooking, served at Schotia’s ’lapa’ with its roaring log fire. Afterwards, a short drive brings us back to our beds at the First Avenue Lodge in Port Elizabeth.

Day 3: Today is filled with scenic surprises as we leave Port Elizabeth. In Humansdorp, an hourstransfer in our support vehicle away, we start the actual bike tour along South Africa’s famous ’Garden Route’. The rolling and quiet back roads serve as a perfect warm-up. Our first stage ends at Tsitsikamma Village Inn after 90 kilometers (approximately 400 meters elevation gain). Tucked away in the forest, and blending with the lush surroundings, the inn offers spectacular mountain or garden views. A warm welcome and friendly service awaits us for dinner at their restaurant, winner of many prestigious awards. 90 KM

Day 4: It is only a ’stone’s throw’ from the Village Inn to Tsitsikamma National Park, a mere distanceof 20 kilometers/ each way. We arrive here early and are taken by the park’s wild and rugged coastline. The Indian Ocean is our backdrop for the day that we spend on one of the gorgeous trails along a beautiful nature walk and over a suspension bridge that may have you holding real tight to the railing! In the afternoon we return to Tsitsikamma Village and another fine dinner at the Inn.. 40 KM

Day 5: We continue our ride from Tsitsikamma through the lush jungle of Nature’s Valley on a narrow and winding, but nearly traffic free road. In the shade of the indigenous vegetation, the picnic table awaits us for lunch. In Nature’s Valley, there is also plenty of time for a stroll along the empty sandy beach or a swim in the ocean. 35 Kilometers of today’s 75 (580 meters elevation gain) are left for the afternoon which will bring us to the Milkwood Manor, located directly on the beaches of Plettenberg Bay. After checking in, there will be enough time to visit the charming town (with its good bike shop), for dinner we will choose one of Plettenberg’s fine fish restaurants. 75 KM

Day 6: Not too exciting nor cyclist friendly, the stretch of road between Plettenberg and Knysna.That’s why we do this distance in our van. Along the way we will stop to explore the scenic ’Knysna Heads’ on foot, will have lunch in one of the waterfront cafes and then continueto ride over the ’Seven Passes Road’ to George. 55 kilometers on the bikes to the Oakhurst Hotel mean only a shortstage but with an elevation gain of roughly 1000 meters! If these are not tiring enough, then you can still join your guide for a ride that he loves: Up the Outeniqua Pass and back. Dinner at the hotel.. 55 KM

Day 7: The Garden Route confirms its fame again today as we continue to follow its beauty along intriguing and remote side roads. Here again we will take our time to stop at the endless sandy beachor for a cappuccino. Before we get to close to the busy and industrial town of Mosselbay, we turn inland where the road starts its gentle climb further into the Outenique Mountain range. Our today’s destination is the Eight Bells Mountain Inn that nestles in the Ruiterbos Valley amidst magnificent mountain scenery. The thatched ‘rondavels’, set in enchanting gardens and shared by an abundance of bird life, are our home away from home for tonight. 74 kilometers/ 550 meters on the bike today … 74 KM

Day 8: We start the day with a demanding climb up to Robinson Pass at 860 meters elevation. At the top we enjoy a phenomenal view before descending into an entirely new landscape that breathes warmth and dryness. We are now in the ’Klein Karoo’, a semi-desert that is home to the ostrich. The town of Oudtshoorn is like an oasis, rich in history, architecture and culture. Ideal for a well deserved day off of our bikes. Therefore we check in at the stylish DeOpstal Lodge for two nights after a totalof 68 kilometers/ 600 meters in the saddle. 68 KM

Day 9: As said: A day off the bike unless you choose otherwise. You can relax by the pool of our lodge, or explore the fancy shops of Oudtshoorn. Upon request, we can also visit the nearby Cango Caves which are famous for their impressive stalactites and stalagmites. Our day may be further enhanced by a drive up and a short hike to Swartberg Pass where the panoramic views are breathtaking. Whatever your preferences will be for the day, we will meet late afternoon for a tour and an authentic dinner at a local ostrich farm.

Day 10: Back on the bike (after a short transfer to Calitzdorp) we continue through the vastness of the Klein Karoo. Here the road meanders through the Huis River Valley and out and up to the pass with the same name. Will it be as hot as usual? The support van will be close and available to refill our water bottles! Ladismith will be the only choice for lunch, followed by another 77 kilometers (of 120/950 meters elevation gain) on Route 62 to Barrydale. 120 KM

Day 11: We are certain that you will enjoy the 110 kilometers/ 700 meters ride between Barrydale and Robertson as much as your guides do! We are now approaching South Africa’s wine country. It’s an area of magnificent landscapes and towering cliffs, crystal clear streams and with an abundance of trees and indigenous flora. And vineyards as far as you can see! Guba’s Guest House in Robertson, known as a ‘Home of Great Taste’, will be our place for the night. 110 KM

Day 12: A quick transfer in our van lets us avoid the busy highway that leads from Robertson to Worcester. Here we are back on very quiet and peaceful roads through the seemingly endless vineyards in the Breede Valley. Cycling can be described as at its best and without any strain. The views again are superb! The last 25 kilometers of today’s total 82/ 550 meters are over the dramatic Bains Kloof Pass, a gentle climb and descent on a not more than one lane road. We check in at the De Luuenhof Estate with their excellent cuisine. 82 KM

Day 13: We leave our bags unpacked and stay at Oude Wellington for a second night. Again, it is your choice how to spend the day. Our suggestion: Join us for a wine tour and a visit of nearby Stellenbosch with perhaps a bit of shopping, or merely strolling through the old and fine architectureof South Africa’s second oldest city. For dinner we will be back at De Luuenhof.

Day 14: We commence our ride in Franschhoek after a short transfer. We are now on the roads that many European pro cycling teams choose for their winter training, and you will see why! Awesome riding on great roads through more magnificent scenery. Over another pass and down to Villiersdorp, then along the Theewaterskloof Dam. The coastal road from Kleinmond to Gordon’s Bay is a cyclist’s dream, and the ’Manor of the Bay Guesthouse’, located right on the ocean, fully deserves its four stars. Our bike computers have clocked another 100 kilometers/ 640 meters elevation by the time we get there. 100 KM

Day 15: Via Muizenberg and Fish Hoek we drive to Simon’s Town. After a short visit of a pinguin colony we are back in the saddle for the highlight of our tour! We approach Cape of Good Hope, the continent’s most southwesterly point! And we leave plenty of time to explore this wild, rugged, scenic and generally unspoiled national park with its unique flora and fauna. But make sure to keep your hands on the handlebar; it can be very windy! Once we leave the Cape, we then follow the picturesque coast of the Atlantic Ocean to Nordhoek where the Afton Grove Guesthouse is expecting us for the night. 66 dreamlike kilometers with 580 meters of climbing! 66 KM

Day 16: The last 50 kilometers/ 400 meters (that can be extended!) of our trip are the most gorgeous of the tour, and we have plenty of time to enjoy every single mile. The road leads over famous Chapman’s Peak that skirts the rocky coastline. The ride offers stunning 180° views and
we will stop often to take in the scenery and abundant flora. Lunch stop is in one of the fine cafes along the promenade of Camp’s Bay. Our last climb brings us over Kloof Neck and to Signal Hill where Cape Town lies to our feet. Wondering about famous Table Mountain? Well, once we check in at the very central City Lodge, you are close to the base of this majestic mountain as. For dinner we walk to the Waterfront. 50 KM

Day 17: Cape Town is yours for the day. And you will fill it easily! Those of you who want to join in on the challenging hike up to the top of Table Mountain have to get up early though. We do this at sunrise, long before the cable car delivers the not so fit. What an awesome experience to have the mountain all to ourselves! The remainder of the day is for exploring the city, the waterfront or the botanical gardens at Kirstenbosch. We meet again in the evening for our tour’s final dinner in one of Cape Town’s many fine restaurants.

Day 18: Depart: We bring you, your photos and your memories to Cape Town International Airport to bid you farewell. Don’t worry, we bring a box of tissues for those who weep at the thought of leaving this absolutely amazing country.

Tour price

$6645.00 CAD per person

Ladies, bikes and ostrich feathers are de rigeur in the Klein Karoo!

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