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Hoedspruit to Three Bridges - Cycling to the Olifants River

Cycling from Hoedspruit to Three Bridges is a popular route for road and off-road cyclists alike. The R40 from Hoedspruit has a decent shoulder for much of the way and the tar road makes for fast cycling, although it can be harrowing when the big trucks come through.

For the intrepid, off-road enthusiasts, the 26km jaunt to Three Bridges begins with the Quad Trails on Air Force land, opposite the Hoedspruit Fire Department, across the R527. The trails have long been used by the Hoedspruit 4x4 Club and were an important feature in the 2019 Vlakvark Mountain Bike Race. I however have never managed to access the Three Bridges route from the trails without a guide, in spite of signage.

The next leg of the off-road journey involves following the Transnet service road paralleling the railroad track and the R40. The track can be accessed via an easement on the left-hand side of the R40, 1.4km from the T Junction between the R527 and the R40.

For a road that follows a relatively flat railway line, the service road has a surprising amount of exhilarating dips and leg burning rises, along with sand pits in the low spots where water puddles into enormous pools in the rainy season.

Follow the service road for 24.5km and cross a tar road, picking up the dirt track on the other side. At 26km, cross the railroad track and continue on until you see the bridge over the Olifants River. Park your bicycle here and take a vertiginous walk (at your own, considerable risk) out onto the bridge and look down onto the Olifants River. Sometimes crocodiles bask on the sandbar and elephants and hippos are often in residence. Birdwatchers might want to bring binoculars to help spot feathered inhabitants.

Just before the bridge, there is a gap in the fence that you can carry yourself and your bicycle through to make your way to the Three Bridges restaurant and shops at the Outpost.

Enjoy a cold drink, an ice cream or a meal at the restaurant. On a hot day, consider a dip in the pool. The cool shade of the riverine trees makes for a welcome rest. Check out the shops and experience the oasis of The Outpost on the Olifants River, before hitting the trails and heading back to Hoedspruit.

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