CENTRAL DRAK - TUGELA & BATTLEFIELDS
mountain biking & rafting adventures
With the Drakensberg Mountains lying in stark contrast to the thorny bush veld of the Tugela Valley, this central KwaZulu-Natal landscape is a fascinating mix of Anglo-Boer history, wide open spaces and deep-gorged rivers.
The legacy of the violent struggles fought between the English, Boers and Zulus, is very apparent in the area, with dozens of war memorials, museums and battle sites paying homage to these bloody battles. But aside from the turbulent memories that lie quietly in the KZN dust, the Tugela Valley is an exciting and some what under-utilised active holiday destination.
Mountain biking in the Tugela Valley is a unique experience, being that much of the terrain traverses private game reserve. Zapping down red earth trails with paper bark trees edging the view, one feels like an early pioneer in "the heart of Africa". With Active Escape's Tugela River Mountain Bike Tours, guests are able to test themselves with trails ranging from 40 to 60km a day of jeep, farm and single-track riding. Staying in bush-lodge accommodation, the vibe is relaxed with enough time to float on a tube down the river, or kick-back under an Acacia, beer in hand, reminiscing about the single-track of the day.
Of course, carving the Tugela Valley ever-deeper is the mighty Tugela River. After plummeting from the top of the Drakensberg Mountains down into the lower Berg, the Tugela River winds its way into central KwaZulu-Natal and becomes the life-source of the fertile land that surrounds it.
Active Escapes offer close up and personal interaction with this formidable river, in the form of white river rafting adventure getaways.
Visiting creatively designed, eco-friendly lodges, you'll experience accommodation that architecturally integrates nature into it's furnishings for a bush veld flavoured holiday. The prolific bird and wild life viewing will keep you entertained when the fun on the river is over, and for the more adventuresome crowd abseiling and zip-lining are a must.
Trail Blazing through Bush & Battlefields
Training for a multi-day event and tiring of your same old routes? Need some hills to sweat and new track to tame? Just 2.5hrs from Durbs & 3.5hrs from Joburg, the Tugela Valley makes for an easy weekend MTB getaway. With single-tracks created by the legendary Berg & Bush and Joberg2Sea MTB races, these red earth trails through Berg, Bush & Battlefield's are guaranteed to get those endorphins pumping.
From Nov through to April, the summer rains in the upper catchment turn the still pools of the Tugela River into an exciting stretch of white water. From our bushcamp, nestled in the heart of the Tugela Canyon, there is a 20km stretch of rapids and pools on which the SA white water rafting champs have been hosted. Water levels rise and fall, with 8 and 4-man rafts used in higher volumes whilst the two man crocs and kayaks are ideal for lower levels.
Wake to the call of a fish-eagle, partake in early morning game walks, sunbathe on one of the giant boulders in front of camp, or unwind with sundowners, roaring campfires, open-air dining and evening skies awash with stars. From flyfishing and birding to more adventurous pursuits such as 4x4'ing, ziplining, river rafting, abseiling and quad-biking... you'll never run short of things to do at this eco-camp nestled in the heart of the Tugela valley.
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Starting out in the Free State near Sterkfontein dam, we'll ride through wide open cattle farms following a contoured track along the edge of the escarpment offering sweeping views across the historic battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal. After weaving amongst the wild protea's on the top we'll descend some 1000m's on handcrafted single-track (created for the legendary Berg&Bush & Joberg2Sea races), dropping back to the aloe's and thornveld of the Tugela Valley.
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