Cycle Tours: South Africa’s Answer to Responsible Travel

There was a time when travelers only cared about seeing the well known places of a city, which often fail to reveal the genuine characteristics of the destination visited. Nowadays, people are looking to explore the unbeaten paths, and one of the more recent trends in tourism is something called responsible travel. As CREST defines it, this type of travel “minimizes the negative impacts, brings economic benefits to host communities, and preserves the cultural and natural resources of the destinations.”

One kind of holiday that fulfills all of the above is a cycling holiday, an absolutely perfect way to navigate through a country like South Africa. Of course, the idea of a vacation is to relax and so a bike tour may not be ideal for some, but for those that have never cycled through villages and foothills have clearly never experienced the peacefulness of a cycling holiday.

Over the years, more people have shown increasing interest in this type of travel, which has been greatly influenced by European cities accommodating cycle commuters. Other than Amsterdam and Copenhagen, one city that has experience major growth in cycling is London. After the London Summer Olympics propelled the nation’s boom in bike sales, city planners saw the need to adjust the capital’s infrastructure. Changes were and continue to be made across the board, from the UK’s busiest airport adapting parking facilities to provide free parking and cycle services for employees to the proposed redesigns of unused Tube lines as new cycle paths.

With the focus on environmentally friendly travel, more countries around the world have adapted their own national cycle networks, including South Africa, which give holidaymakers the chance to see the nation in a new perspective, through the eyes of a local. The amazing thing about bike tours, other than it being an eco friendly way to explore new territory, is in its simplicity and ability to bridge the divide between tourist and locals. For the South African journeys specifically, most of them pass through remote locations that typical travelers rarely stumble across. Traveling further from the metropolis and into smaller, less fortunate areas allows you to interact with and provide support for these traditional communities.

image credit: southafrica.net

To avoid any displacement of or disruptions to the local communities, tour operators do their best to maintain small groups. According to the operators running the tour through Drakensberg and Kruger, small groups are better for local interaction as participants tend to be housed in locally run accommocations, something that bigger tours would miss out on.

For more details on responsible travel in this beautiful African nation, SouthAfrica.info has a wealth of information on cycling tour operators that accommodate both novice and experienced cyclers.

Author Bio: Nikki Shiu
Nikki’s first cycle holiday was a couple years back in Vietnam, and ever since then, she’s made it a point to travel on two wheels whenever she’s visiting a new place. When she’s not busy researching on her next cycling getaway, Nikki is freelancing for several travel publications.