Bottelary Hills Conservancy – The Best Kept Mountain Biking Secret

Bottelary Conservancy

STELLENBOSCH is one of the main, if not the main mountain biking destination in South Africa.

What is not generally known, is that one of South Africa’s most spectacular MTB trail networks is situated in the area between Stellenbosch, Kuilsriver and Koelenhof known as the Bottelary Hills, with its closest starting point less than 40km from Cape Town.

The trails are into their eighth year, multiple route options cater for various skill and fitness levels:

Red (27.5km/750m climbing); Green (17km/315m climbing);

Yellow (6.5km/140m climbing);  Blue (9km with 7km single track);

Orange (9km/150m climbing); Brown (4km/140m climbing).

These routes can be combined to present many happy hours of mountain biking with some of the most spectacular vistas in the Western Cape. As indicated on the map, the trails can be accessed from “Zevenwacht” and “Hazendal” on the Kuilsriver side, from Devonvale on the Koelenhof side and from Devon Valley, “Asara“ and “Overgaauw” on the Stellenbosch side.

Riding the trails is a special and invigorating experience. You are taken through sections of pristine Renosterveld with 360 degree views as you circle the Hills – from Table Mountain and Table Bay to the Paarl Mountains, Stellenbosch and Helderberg Mountains and False Bay.

Bottelary Hills Conservancy
Bottelary Hills Conservancy

BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE MTB ROUTES

Green – The closest starting point from Cape Town is Hazendal which takes you onto Green. It takes you to the top of the Hills with spectacular views of Table Mountain and, on a clear day, across False Bay all the way to Cape Hangklip. It includes fast flowing ST’s.

Red, Blue and Yellow – The Red trails are the main trails which circle the Hills clock-wise and can be accessed from Kuilsriver (via Green), Koelenhof or Stellenbosch.

On the northern side, is a recently opened anti-clockwise trail of 9km (7km of which is ST) which begins and ends on Koopmanskloof ( Blue). It provides beautiful views of the Wolfkloof/Goede Hoop valley and Table Mountain as well as of the Stellenbosch Mountains as you circle it to the South.

Yellow can be included in Red or be entered from Devon Valley on the Stellenbosch side. It takes you over dam walls and through sections of thick indigenous vegetation on carefully crafted ST’s.

LEVELS OF SKILL AND FITNESS

Some sections are more challenging than others – Blue, for example, is steep and demanding in parts whereas the drop-downs on Wolfkloof call for experience. In general however the trails can be enjoyed by all keen MTB riders who love a special outing through an exceptional part of the Stellenbosch district!

THE BOTTELARY HILLS CONSERVANCY (BHC)

The Bottelary Hills Conservancy MTB trails are managed by the Bottelary Hills Conservancy.

The BHC is a registered non-profit organisation and is tasked to care of, expand and sustain the large tracts of remaining Renosterveld in its area which stretches over the 42 farms, which make up its membership. Less than 4% of the original Renosterveld in the Western Cape remains. Renosterveld, unlike Fynbos which grows in poor soils, grows in very rich fertile soils.

This is why it has been replaced with vines and other commercial crops. The BHC is fortunate to have these large tracts of pristine Renosterveld in its area, which has been one of the motivators for the declaration of the area as a World’s Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The bulk of the money generated by the MTB trails is spent on eradicating alien vegetation (predominantly Eucalyptus and Pine trees) from the Renosterveld.Bottelary Hills Conservancy

The BHC has employed a professional wood-cutting team “Stem in die Bos” for a total of 450 working days during which they have cleared in excess of 450 hectares of Renosterveld – the battle against the aliens is in the process of being won!

When enjoying our fabulous trails, you will at the same time be making a substantial contribution to the sustainable preservation of this special irreplaceable heritage.

FAUNA AND FLORA

Abundant game roam naturally in the Hills such as Caracal, Grysbok, Grey duiker, Porcupine, Bat-eared foxes, Cape foxes and otters. There are also endangered reptile species such as the Diamondback tortoise which is only to be found in Renosterveld areas.

In addition, at the last count 109 bird species were identified – they are listed on the BHC website. www.bottelaryconservancy.co.za

OTHER BENEFITS

The routes traverse well-known high quality producing wine farms such as Hazendal, Kaapzicht, Mooiplaas, Fort Simon, Goede Hoop, Koopmanskloof, Asara, Overgaauw, Jordan and Zevenwacht. Most of these farms offer wine-sales and highly rated restaurants.

Riding through the vines where these high quality wines are born adds a special something to the enjoyment of their wines!

Hazendal has recently launched a bike park where children can ride a 5km easy beginner singletrack, showers are available as well as a restaurant.

2019 PERMITS

The 2019 annual permits which will be valid from that date will be launched on Monday, 3 December 2018, costing R 650 for the main member and R 550 per spouse. Permits are only available online via the BHC website.

Day permits can be purchased for R55 at the following venues:

Hazendal, Zevenwacht Country Inn, Devonvale Country Hotel, The Bakery at Jordan, Asara Hotel, the 24-hour garage kiosk at Soneike and the Bottelary Hills Wine Centre.

We are looking forward to welcoming you to the Bottelary Hills Conservancy MTB trails in the near future.

For more information visit www.bottelaryconservancy.co.za or [email protected]

Read more articles