Beat Zoom fatigue with the Mountain Bike Camino

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Explore South Africa's amazing gravel roads with Camino spirit (Photo: Hambly Quantrill)
Explore South Africa's amazing gravel roads with Camino spirit (Photo: Hambly Quantrill)
  • Want an excuse to go camping and ride your bike? This is the ticket
  • The Western Cape Mountain Bike Camino is all about riding great gravel roads and being mindful
  • Do it properly and you’ll qualify as a proper cycling pilgrim

For the spiritually Zoom fatigued, a Camino experience could be your best route back to mindfulness. But how?

Travelling to Spain, to trace the Camino route, is all but impossible, at the moment?

That is where some clever domestic tourism entrepreneurship and escapism, find each other, in the form of the Western Cape Mountain Bike Camino. For only R3500 you have a plotted 600km route and ten nights of camping accommodation, from Franschhoek to Plettenberg Bay, which can be ridden in either direction.

gravel road touring
The Camino Mountain Bike concept is mostly a week and a bit of this: open roads with nobody around (Photo: Hambly Quantrill)

Riding a lot more gravel - is the new normal 

As more mountain bikers and gravel riders discover that South Africa has a large number of rural roads that link the majestic mountains, the Mountain Bike Camino threads the best of these into a single adventure journey.

With the Mountain Bike Camino you can apply yourself to an immersive riding experience, without having to bother about route integrity, private land issues or accommodation. A series of GPS Google pins guide you along and each day covers approximately 60km of riding, with the shortest link being 20km and the longest, 90km.

Starting from Franschhoek, you’ll traverse Greyton, Riversonderend, Bonnie and Swellendam. Followed by Suurbraak, Gourits River, Albertinia, Hartenbos and the inspiring Seven Passes, before an inspiring Knysna forest route delivers you into the finish at Plettenberg Bay.

Camino bike tour South Africa
You will need to be quite self-sufficient, but that is the Camino way (Photo: Hambly Quantrill)
Camino Western Cape
You can ride any bike you like, but larger volume tyres give greater comfort and handle loads better (Photo: Hambly Quantrill)

It remains a riding and camping adventure

The overnight camping facilities were specifically selected to be open and accommodating. You will need to be a willing bike packer to participate, carrying all camping gear and personal effects with you. If you wish to make it more of a slackpacking adventure, any vehicle support is an independent choice.

Riders can choose to ride on a schedule of their own making, regarding departure dates. With the cycling apparel and accessories market being flooded with new lightweight bike packing bags and tents, gear is hardly a barrier to riding adventure. Even for novice bike tourers.

Although Mountain Bike Camino aims to get riders away from their digital devices and into the great rural Western Cape, there is a minimum distance required to qualify for your Pilgrim passport.

Riders have to reach at least five of the stopovers, although most will surely be inspired to see the entire route to its logical conclusion.

With five or more stamps in your passport from the Camino Mountain Bike Western Cape camping partners, you’ll receive a Compostela certificate. And that is exactly the thing to have on the wall of your home office as a reminder of mindfulness, when those Zoom meetings or an MS Teams conference, becomes a bit intolerable.

ALSO READ: Get organised with the Thule Bike Duffel

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