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Bicycle

As long as you’re fit enough to handle the hills, South Africa offers some rewarding cycling. It has scenic and diverse terrain, abundant campsites and numerous quiet secondary roads. The major drawback is sharing the tarmac with South Africa's often erratic and aggressive drivers.

Good areas The roads around the Cape Peninsula and Winelands are popular, although busy and swept by summer wind. The Wild Coast is beautiful and challenging, and the northern lowveld offers wide plains.

Public transport Trains can carry bicycles, but most bus lines don’t want bikes in their luggage holds, and shared taxis don’t carry luggage on the roof.

Purchase Larger South African cities, especially Cape Town, have a good selection of mountain bikes for sale. Jo’burg and Cape Town are the best places to look for touring bikes. To resell your bicycle at the end of your trip, try hostel noticeboards, bike shops and clubs, and www.gumtree.co.za.

Rental For day rides, some hostels offers short-term mountain-bike rental. Rentals can also sometimes be arranged through bike shops in the cities; you’ll usually be required to leave a credit-card deposit.

Safety Distances between major towns are often long, though, except in isolated areas such as the Karoo, you’re rarely far from a village or farmhouse. Many roads don’t have a hard shoulder; on those that do, motorists use the shoulder as an unofficial slow lane. It’s illegal to cycle on highways, and roads near urban areas are busy and hazardous. Before heading off anywhere, contact other cyclists through local cycling clubs or bicycle shops to get recent information on the routes you’re considering. Bring a good lock to counter the ever-present risk of theft, store the bike inside your accommodation (preferably inside your room) and chain it to something solid.

Spare parts Mountain bikes and parts are widely available in the cities. It’s often difficult to find specialised parts for touring bikes, especially outside Cape Town and Jo’burg. Establish a relationship with a good bike shop in a city before you head off into the veld, in case you need something couriered to you.

Weather Much of the country (except for the Western Cape and west coast) gets most of its rain in summer (late November to March), often in the form of violent thunderstorms. When it isn’t raining, summer days can be unpleasantly hot, especially in the steamy lowveld.