iSimangaliso will host two sporting events to help create environmental awareness. Picture: Supplied.

Have you ever wished to be able to run or cycle through wild areas, off the tar and gravel and onto game paths and untouched plains? To traverse the high vegetated dunes, move through virgin coastal forest or thornveld? iSimangaliso has long recognised the deep connection that people have with nature and the yearning to interact at a closer level. This was the motivation behind two of the classic Eco-Series events that the Park has developed in recent years – the iSimangaliso MTB and the iSimangaliso Trail Challenge. Both events have been designed to bring participants into close contact with and offer a taste of some of the ecosystems in the World Heritage Site. If ever there was a reason to take up trail running or mountain biking, this is it!

There aren’t many places in the world where a trail run affords views like these. Andrew Booth of KZN Trail Running said  iSimangaliso Trail Challenge is a challenge and experience more than just a trail run. He said it opens up an opportunity to explore the park on foot like never before.

The iSimangaliso Trail Challenge powered by KZN Trail Running will take place from June 29 to July 1, from St Lucia’s Sugarloaf Campsite where the race village is set within earshot of hippos at the Lake St Lucia Estuary mouth. Right from the outset, the event is about spectators and family involvement with a 6km ‘Full Moon’ leg-stretcher beach run starting the weekend off on Friday, June 29. The next two days are far more hardcore, testing the mettle of runners with the Saturday route discovering the southernmost section of iSimangaliso towards Maphelane. Sunday’s route is quite different as runners track over the soaring vegetated dunes of the Park’s Eastern Shores section overlooking sea and lake – under the watchful eye of armed rangers as the area is populated with elephant, buffalo, leopard and much more.

Riders on the redesigned ‘iSimangaliso MTB Adventure Tour’ can expect to be fully immersed in wild nature – with the opportunity to stop and smell the wildflowers, and spot birds and game along the route. Shane Webster said many of the riders participate to view game, birds and bush, however the route will still offer plenty of raw MTB track. The ride this year will take place over  days. 

"We have also streamlined accommodation to a fully tented camp with either ‘glamping’ options or the usual rider’s tent village. We believe that this event is going to be the most rewarding iSimangaliso MTB yet.

“The best part about all of our iSimangaliso events,” says Marketing Manager Lindy Duffield, “is that you are supporting our conservation efforts with a compulsory contribution towards the iSimangaliso Rare and Endangered Species Fund for the monitoring, reintroduction and management of these animals in our World Heritage Site,"  said Webster.