Right out­side Mbombela in Mpumalanga is a val­ley where you can pitch your tent and ex­plore your sur­round­ings on a bike.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Weekend Break - Text and pho­tos He­lenus Kruger

Some peo­ple take it very se­ri­ously, oth­ers do it to re­lax, and some do it to shed those un­wanted kilo­grams be­fore head­ing to Amanz­im­toti in De­cem­ber. We’re talk­ing about cycling of course. It seems like every­body’s do­ing it these days. Ev­ery­where you see bike racks on the back of ve­hi­cles, mean­ing more and more peo­ple are tak­ing their bikes when they go on a week­end get­away or hol­i­day. But not all camp­sites are geared for cycling, es­pe­cially if you want to pound the ped­als for ex­er­cise. Your kids might be

able to knock about in the camp­site, but if you and your sig­nif­i­cant other want to burn a few kilo­joules, you usu­ally have to head for the high­way. Mankele Moun­tain Bik­ing is known in cycling cir­cles for its su­perb moun­tain­bik­ing routes – it’s there­fore the right spot if you want to pre­pare for the 94.7 cy­cle chal­lenge and you want to camp. Although Mankele is an ex­er­cise area and play­ground for fit­ter cy­clists and hosts races through­out the year, every­body is wel­come to come ride here. You don’t have to be em­bar­rassed be­cause your bike costs less than your car, and you also don’t have to wear tight cycling shorts.

The camp­site

You can im­me­di­ately see you’re in cycling coun­try when you stop at Mankele’s re­cep­tion of­fice. Ev­ery ve­hi­cle in the park­ing area has a bike rack on the back, and there are cy­clists as far as the eye can see. Young and old. Up and down. There are quite a few day vis­i­tors that come through to cy­cle, swim and braai. These vis­i­tors are wel­come, pro­vided you bring a bike. And that you ride it. Mankele lies in a val­ley and is sur­rounded by moun­tains cov­ered in in­dige­nous for­est. The V-shaped site is big: it’s about 1 km long and 400 m wide. The site is di­vided by a lapa and pool area in the mid­dle. To the right of the lapa are the cycling trails, with the camp­site on the left-hand side. The camp­site it­self is di­vided by the sec­ond pool. The stands are un­marked and you camp where you wish. There’s no limit on the amount of peo­ple that can camp here; some­times on race week­ends there are as many as 600 par­tic­i­pants at >

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