The perilous 1,000-mile journey to save Africa’s endangered black rhinos
28 Oct 2022
The annual Desert Knights mountain bike tour was held for the fifth time in the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park from 7-13 September this year. This unique adventure consists of five days of cycling covering 280 kilometres and a day of paddling along the Orange River. The tour started at the Hobas Campsite and 118 cyclists lined up to head out onto the newly created single track to the Fish River Canyon lookout point on the first day’s route.
A key feature of Desert Knights is that most of the cycling takes place in the late afternoon and into the setting sun and rising full moon. This allows participants to experience the spectacular landscape and sense of place of this transfrontier park from the vantage point of their bicycle saddles.
Participants are accommodated in a tented village in six different camps, Hobas, /Ai-/Ais Hotsprings Spa and Gamkab on the Namibian side and de Hoop, Hakkiesdoring and Sendelingsdrift on the South African side – giving participants quite a comprehensive experience of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. Additional information about various aspects such as geology and botany was also provided to give participants a ‘bigger picture’of the natural history of the transfrontier park. Participants were also introduced to the Nama culture of the local inhabitants by being shown the Nama-stap in the /Ai-/Ais Hotsprings Spa and also being treated to a highly appreciated and very tasty traditional Nama meal prepared by local caterers at the De Hoop camp.
The 2014 participants came from as far afield as Mozambique and Okahandja in Namibia, with most coming from the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. In total 27 couples participated and there were a number of family groups who chose to come on the Desert Knights tour to spend a week together. More than 58% of the participants had never been to the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park before, and 24% had only been once before. In a survey conducted after the tour, 79% of participants strongly agreed with the statement that they would tell their friends that the tour should be on their ‘bucket list’.
A team of 60 support staff ensured that the tour ran smoothly – from the camp set up and breakdown, to provision of catering in camp and along the cycling route. Many participants commented on the steady supply of ice in all camps to keep the drinks cold. Medical and bicycle mechanical support was also provided to ensure that the all participants were well supported.
The 2015 Desert Knights will be held from 24 – 30 September. Visit the website for more information.
Quote from Sorin Dimitriu : ‘Hi, Just want to thank you for sharing with us a wonder of the world. What an adventure we had! I am back home, body only, my soul still is wondering somewhere on the desert and along the banks of the Orange.’
Story by: Roland Vorwerk
Boundless Southern Africa
Tel: +27 (0)82 466 1251