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The first Desert Knights Mountain Bike Tour for 2016 was held from 18-24 April, with 74 people from Namibia and South Africa, aged between 13 and 65 years of age, participating. The event proved especially popular with the four families cycling this year.
Exciting to all was the participation of 12 cyclists from the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy and Songo in Kayamandi, as well as local cyclists from Klein Karas and Eksteenfontein. A former employee of the Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort in the Fish River Canyon hitchhiked all the way from Swakopmund to participate.
The Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy provides basic mountain bike and life skills training to underprivileged youth sourced from schools in Diepsloot, a poverty-stricken township north of Johannesburg, thereby empowering them and providing them with opportunities to participate in recreational and competitive sporting activities.
Songo in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch, runs a sports development programme that provides children with opportunities to participate in recreational and competitive sporting activities, while contributing to the social upliftment of the community.
Registration of participants went smoothly and cyclists set off at 16:30 to enjoy sunset at the Fish River Canyon viewpoint. On the second day cyclists departed under a double rainbow, thanks to a cloudburst earlier in the day over the Hobas Campsite. A very strong headwind added an unusual degree of difficulty to the third day, but it was nevertheless in high spirits that even the last cyclists entered the campsite at 23:00. Gamkab Campsite, with its spectacular setting in the dry river bed of the Gamkab Canyon, remains the favourite.
The day on the river was enjoyed by everyone, with the lunch provided by the SANParks Honorary Rangers at the Richtersberg Campsite in high demand. At De Hoop Campsite cyslists enjoyed a festive Nama meal, prepared by a local caterer and featuring a wide range of pot-bread, homemade jams and traditional dishes. The full moon rose as the cyclists rode from De hoop to Hakkiesdoring Wilderness Camp along the Donkey-trail single track, with a warm cup of glühwein welcoming them as they arrived.
Desert Knights was launched in 2010 and in 2015 became a bi-annual event, because of its popularity. Desert Knights has proven to be an innovative and sustainable way to raise funds for conservation activities in the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, while creating short-term jobs and training opportunities.
Desert Knights tours in 2017
Bookings for the 7 – 13 April 2017 Desert Knights are now open, as the September 2016 event is fully booked. The participation cost is N$/R 15 000 per person (deposit of N$/R 5 000 secures entry, with the balance payable by end-January 2017). Click here to book
The second 2017 Desert Knights will take place from 2-8 September, with bookings opening later this year.