Routes » Freedom Trail


Note: The Freedom Trail is not open to tour at any time. It is not a wholly public route, although it relies heavily on public roads for most of its distance. Contact the Freedom Challenge organization several weeks in advance to arrange a ride on the Freedom Trail. An itinerary will be provided based upon your intended per diem mileage. A fee is required to cover permitting and both food and accommodations in remote areas. It is also possible to tour the route with complete food and lodging arrangements.


The Freedom Challenge is an initiative hosted by the Wilderness Foundation South Africa to establish a mountain bike trail that runs from Kilimanjaro to Cape Town. Already the lower third is in place (running 2300 kms/1450 miles from Pietermaritzburg to Cape Town) and the hope is to have the other two thirds set up by the June 2010 for the inaugural Kilimanjaro to Cape Town tour on the trail.

Trail Motivation

One of our goals is to utilize the trail to support rural economic development. There are accommodation stops provided by local communities at least every 4 hours of riding apart. All stops provide towels, bedding and 3 meals. The nature of the accommodation varies from huts to game reserve lodges. The current cost for riding the trail is ZAR450 per day (USD 45) which covers all meals and accommodation as well as downloadable maps and traversing permits.

The trail is focused on rural Southern Africa and runs through a number of conservation areas. In many places we offer a choice of riding surfaces. Riders can either stay on the main trail which is largely double track or single vehicle road, or they can opt for more technical single track which might also involve hike-a-bike sections.

The Freedom Challenge

Once a year we organize an event on the trail in order to publicize it. The Freedom Challenge Race Across South Africa draws about 50 participants and takes place at the same time as the Great Divide (June).

elevation profile from TopoFusion software

GPS Data

FreedomTrail-Tech-Merged.gpx – This file highlights the more trail / technical route, whenever there is a choice.


Official Trail site –
Freedom Challenge Race
Andre Britz’s account of his 2007 race
Wilderness Foundation

Comments (4)

LiehannJuly 16th, 2011 at 12:35 am

I rode the first ten days of the race in 2011 before having to withdraw due to a mechanical. The route is amazing, but quite tough. There are many portage sections and you’re often bundu-bashing. I rode on average 11 hours a day. As it’s in the middle of the South African winter mornings and evenings can get cold (sub-zero temperatures). We also had several very muddy days which were exhausting and morale depleting.

One nice thing about this trail is there are support stations where you can eat and sleep. One for each day if you ride to the cutoff (26 days). The hospitality at these support stations is amazing. We were welcomed into farm houses, guest lodges, and even a village hut. The food is incredible.

I was disappointed not to complete the event, and will definitely be back.

Noa RoosAugust 20th, 2015 at 6:15 am

Is this trail still active? ThereĀ“s no comment here for 4 years…?

ZWorkmanAugust 25th, 2015 at 11:32 pm

As far as I know they still race this route every year. They recently re designed their website. I e-mailed them about touring the trail separate from the race and they recommended that I try the Spine of the Dragon route instead.

gypsybytradeAugust 27th, 2015 at 10:43 am

You can tour the Freedom Challeneg route, but it requires you pay through the organization and keep to an itinerary as you pass private land and are basically required to resupply and stay overnight at private farmhouses. It is not a conventional “self-supported” touring route. Probably best to do the FC in the context of the race if you desire.

The Spine of the Dragoon Route is awesome, fully public, with free GPX tracks (although a donation to charity is recommended). The Dragon’s Spine is also much longer in total (2500mi), passes through the mountain kingdom of Lesotho which is not to be missed, and finishes all the way north at the border of Zimbabwe. It also passes near to Swaziland if you wish to make a brief visit to that country.

I have a page about the Dragon’s Spine here on

And this is why you don’t want to miss Lesotho:

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