Project Description

The area around Nieu Bethesda is good for either a leisurely ride or a challenging ride for serious mountain bikers. If you’re feeling lazy, hire a bike from the Outsiders B&B and cruise around the village. Alternatively, wake up early to conquer one of the two mountain bike trails in the area: Compassberg and Ganora.

Rietpoort Circular Route

Rietpoort MTB route - Nieu Bethesda

Time: 3 ½ hours cycling
Distance: 54km
Difficulty: Moderate

A circular ride on well-tended dirt roads, through various kloofs and plateaus. Some steep uphills and fast downhills. Notable for: sweeping vistas of the Sneeuberg range.
Click here to download the route map.


Ganora is an intermediate 34km circular route that follows the jeep track on Ganora Farm. The route traverses rugged escarpment, over difficult road surfaces and crossing river beds.
The climb is 500m and it is recommended that you use a full-suspension mountain bike. The scenery on the ride is worth the hard work. This is the best of the Karoo and there is rock art, fossils and antelope to be seen along the route. Riders are asked to be wary of snakes on the descent.

The trail is unmarked, but maps are available at Ganora Farm, where you also need to pay the trail fee.

Source: Marais, J. & Mills, S. Mountain Biking Trails of South Africa. Struik Publishers

Compassberg Circular Route

Compassberg MTB route - Nieu Bethesda

Time: 6.5 hours
Distance: 92.9km (plus an optional 28.2km up to the base of the Compassberg from the main route and back)
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult (endurance/exposed)
Notable for: unique and varied views of the Compassberg, game on the final stretch through the Bergplaas Nature Reserve and excellent birding.

A long circular ride towards the Compassberg on dirt roads mostly in a poor state (rocky, potholed) and back around the north face on better, faster dirt roads. There is the option of turning off at Compassberg Farm and riding up to the base of the mountain (18.6km very poor track one way), leaving bikes there and climbing the final two hours to the summit.

NOTE: If you wish to climb Compassberg it is advised to leave the village at first light as the entire trip, including climbing, will take over ten hours. Compassberg is a moderate to difficult circular mountain biking trail. The trail can be as long as 100km, but you can vary it to suit your level of fitness. The route follows public roads and is unmarked, but the roads to follow are well sign-posted and you can find out from your place of accommodation which route to take. The route winds through 15 farms in the Sneeuberg Mountain range. The climb is in excess of 1000m, mostly on good gravel roads. The route begins in Nieu Bethesda and ascends sharply towards the Doornberg and The Valley farms. The going gets tougher as you climb the 2505m Compassberg. The route then descends in a loop towards Middelburg before the final testing climb in the home stretch.

Click here to download the route map.