E-biking* through Phinda Private Game Reserve’s rare Sand Forest offers a unique and immersive experience through one of the reserve’s most distinctive ecosystems. Easy to ride and good fun, these specialised bicycles are fitted with a battery powered assist that gives a boost via a throttle to make pedalling a little easier. Allowing you to cover more ground at ease, witness the intricate beauty of this captivating space exploring more of the dense vegetation and sandy trails, free from the constraints of roads and vehicles.
As you navigate well-travelled game paths and gravel roads, winding through the towering trees and lush undergrowth, you will encounter a rich array of plant species and, if you are lucky, even a few curious creatures that call the forest home. Keep an eye out for elusive suni or nyala hiding beneath the canopy plus an abundance of bird species that thrive in this remarkable habitat. Accompanied by your knowledgeable ranger, and a specialist biking guide, learn more about the area’s ecology, gaining an insight into the delicate balance required to preserve this exceptional environment. Depending on which cycle route you choose to explore, your ranger will also stop en route to point out various interesting forest wonderments, providing an interpretive and engaging experience throughout.
Much like the Sand Forest, this thrilling experience goes beyond appearances. Brought to life in collaboration with the nearby Makhasa community, it offers a unique investment opportunity for the local people, with the intent to educate, upskill and generate employment. Leasing the e-bikes from the community, which are maintained daily by a dedicated community member, &Beyond works closely alongside them providing vital support. Guests from all Phinda Private Game Reserve lodges can enjoy this adventure at an additional cost, with all proceeds going to the Makhasa community.
Phinda Forest e-bike cycle trails
There are four distinct single-track trails to choose from, ranging from 5 to 22 km (3 to 13 mi). Each trail has been graded according to fitness and skill level as well as scenery, to ensure your chosen route is well-suited to your cycling expertise and interests.
Honeyguide – blue route
- 5 km (3.1 mi)
- Fitness level: 1/5
- Skill level: 2/5
- Scenic rating: 3/5
Cycling through the Sand Forest closest to the lodge, this route starts on a well-worn game path, winding in and around the forest, finishing on the access road to the lodge. Ideal for a quick loop in the forest where you will be able to take in the beautiful forest trees and birdlife, including large Lebombo wattles, the false tamboti grove and the scaly throated honeyguide call site.
Crowned eagle – green route
- 10 km (6.2 mi)
- Fitness level: 2/5
- Skill level: 3/5
- Scenic rating: 4/5
Combining the honeyguide (blue route) with an additional 5 km (3.1 mi) taking you through the largest section of Sand Forest on the reserve, this route mainly follows well-worn game trails. All that the Sand Forest has to offer can be seen along this magnificent trail with highlights including a large Phinda button spider web, an old hyena den and the false tamboti grove.
Broadbill – red route
- 15 km (9.3 mi)
- Fitness level: 4/5
- Skill level: 4/5
- Scenic rating: 4/5
This trail is a combination of the honeyguide (blue route) and crowned eagle (green route) with an additional 5 km (3.1 mi). The added 5 km (3.1 mi) is to get your heart racing as the route continues along a section of gravel road and then onto the edge of the forest where some technical navigating in-between trees and termite mounds is required, before finishing in the forest closest to the lodge.
Trogon – black route
- 22 km (13.6 mi)
- Fitness level 5/5
- Skill level 4/5
- Scenic rating 5/5
This trail combines all three routes, honeyguide (blue route), crowned eagle (green route) and broadbill (red route), with an additional 7 km (4.3 mi). Accompanied by a game vehicle, this route takes you out of the elephant exclusion zone fence which surrounds the lodge, into another elephant exclusion zone fence, and then into a section of the Sand Forest that hasn’t been affected by elephants in recent times. This is an exceptionally beautiful part of the forest worth the effort.
*This experience is at an additional cost, and subject to availability and weather dependent