More and more South African mountain bikers are discovering the gem that is Summerplace Game Reserve. And they’re returning for more. What is it about this Waterberg mountain bike trails venue, a short drive from Pretoria, that’s made it into one of South Africa’s premier mountain biking destinations? Here’s what…
Beautiful wilderness trails
There are more than 100km of incredible mountain bike trails at Summerplace Game Reserve. The trails network is still expanding and delivers a stimulating experience for all mountain bikers, from Beginner to Advanced. The mountain bike trails climb and descend the slopes of the Waterberg and are both challenging and rewarding, offering mountain bikers an opportunity to experience unspoiled natural beauty with flourishing Bushveld vegetation, indigenous birdlife, a range of wildlife and incredible views.
Hand-built and well-maintained trails
David Baber, the landowner and expert trail-builder has meticulously built all the trails at Summerplace Game Reserve using the existing natural features of the Waterberg to deliver trails that have flow and are fun to ride. As an accomplished mountain biker, David understands how to make the most of the gradient, rocks and gulleys to deliver one of the best mountain bike trails networks in South Africa. There is a full-time trails team that helps David to hand-build the trails and which ensures the trails are maintained all year round.
Range of trails to suit all mountain bikers
The trails at Summerplace have evolved to cater for all skill levels and the various fitness levels of mountain bikers. Beginner mountain bikers can cruise on the various gravel roads, while Novice mountain bikers will enjoy the tame, but stimulating singletrack close to the trailhead. Intermediate mountain bikers have a large range of trails and routes to choose from, while Experienced mountain bikers will love the ample challenging singletrack climbs and descents that Summerplace is well known for.
Ride routes or create your own
Some mountain bikers like to ride set routes and others like to be more spontaneous on their rides. Summerplace is ideal for both in that it offers marked and measured routes, which are denoted by coloured directional arrows. It’s also easy to ride a combination of specific trails using linking trails. For example, Enduro-focussed mountain bikers like to ride the Enduro lines, whereas marathon and stage-race mountain bikers like to cover ample distance on their rides.
It’s a safe place to ride a mountain bike
Mountain bikers at Summerplace often remark on how safe they feel. Besides being far from any main roads or urban settlements, Summerplace Game Reserve has a secure perimeter fence that is monitored by cameras. There are also regular patrols done through the reserve and surrounds by the local security company.
Because Summerplace Game Reserve has more than 40 species of large mammals, your chances of wildlife encounters while on a mountain bike ride are high. Mountain bikers often encounter Roan Antelope, Sable Antelope, Kudu, Zebra and Giraffe. There have also been recent sightings of Leopard by mountain bikers.
The Bike Village is geared for mountain bikers
By nature, mountain biking is highly social. The Bike Village, which is the trailhead at Summerplace, has developed around the mountain biking culture. There’s ample comfortable seating indoors and outdoors as well as plenty of space for mountain bikes. There is a bike wash facility, free uncapped Wi-Fi (for post-ride uploads to Strava and Instagram), a pump to inflate tyres and high-quality coffee and cold beer to purchase. There are also excellent toilet and shower facilities and DSTV where local and international bicycle racing content is prioritised. Mountain bikers enjoy gathering at the Bike Village to watch live UCI World Cup XCO and Downhill racing.
Bikes and helmets to hire
Summerplace Game Reserve invested in a fleet of mountain bikes for rental. There are 10 eBikes, which are a blend of Specialized Turbo Levo (full eBike) and Specialized Turbo Levo SL (light eBike) and three Specialized Stumpjumper regular bikes. All the bikes are full suspension and there is a range of sizes. Specialized helmets are available to hire with the bike.
Trail guides and skills instructors
Many of the Summerplace staff members are mountain bikers. Several have completed the PMBI mountain bike skills-coaching and mountain bike trail-guiding course, so are qualified to offer skills lessons and/or guided rides.
Ideal for family breaks
Many mountain bikers take their family to Summerplace because it’s ideal for family getaways. It’s in the bush, but the large well-kept lawns and fun, flowy bits of trail in front of the Bike Village encourages kids to ride their bikes. For lodges that don’t have a swimming pool or hot/cold tub, there’s a plunge pool at the Bike Village, which also has uncapped Wi-Fi, great coffee, cold soft drinks, cold alcoholic beverages and DSTV.
Hosted top mountain bike events
Summerplace Game Reserve has successfully hosted several high-profile mountain bike racing events. In 2022 and 2023 a round of the South African XCO Cup that carried UCI grading status was hosted at Summerplace, attracting the country’s top XCO racers, including world-class performers, Alan Hatherly and Candice Lill. In 2022 Summerplace hosted a round of the Provincial Enduro Series for Gauteng, North West and Limpopo. And in 2023 it hosted a round of the SA Enduro Series.
Will be hosting more high-profile mountain bike races
In 2024, Summerplace will host the Glacier Waterberg Traverse, a three-day mountain bike stage race, organised by Dryland Event Management. Summerplace will also host a round of the 2024 South African Enduro Series, which will carry UCI grading status. There will also be a round of the South African Downhill Series hosted at Summerplace in 2024. The inaugural Waterberg Biosphere Bundu Bash will also be hosted at Summerplace Game Reserve in 2024. This event includes mountain biking over three different distances.
Range of accommodation to suit all budgets
Although it’s possible, day visits for mountain bikers are rare. Most mountain bikers book accommodation in order to make the most of the Summerplace mountain biking experience. There is a wide range of accommodation at Summerplace Game Reserve, ranging from camping through to luxury bush lodges. The accommodation is suited to the needs of mountain bikers.