Berg and Bush

The Descent

Set a race pace on three days of flowing trails with a challenging endurance test on day 1. Enter in teams of two or solo.

the standard bank Berg & BUSH Descent 2024

Price per team of 2

R16000

or Solo

R8000

Dates

31 May - 2 June

Difficulty

Exhilarating & Freeflowing

Duration

3 days

Distance

214km

About the Descent

  • This iconic event takes riders on Day 1 from the top of the Drakensberg mountains down beautiful meandering single track via Solly’s Folly to our camp on the
    banks of the Tugela River
  • Day 2 and 3 trails include hand built single track following the Tugela River
    and up and over the infamous Spioenkop Mountain
  • Registration for The Descent 2023 will take place at Emseni Camp
  • Spend 3 nights at our Race Village selecting from camping options or self-camp or stay in a nearby B&B or hotel
  • Shuttles to and from OR Tambo airport available
  • Solo entries available

The Need to Know Registration Info for 2024

Thursday

Registration for the Descent will take place at Em’seni – The Race Village – on Thursday, 30 May 2024.

  • You will spend the night at Em’seni if you have booked accommodation with Berg & Bush.
  • Race briefing and dinner will take place at Em’seni.
 

For the race start on Friday, 31 May you have TWO options:

  • Self-drive & shuttle on Friday morning
  • Bus to Start – bikes are sent up on Thursday, and your bus to start on Friday

If you select the “Bus to Start” option, your bike will be transported to the start on Thursday.

You will get breakfast at Em’seni.

  • The Buses to the Start will leave after breakfast.
  • You can drive your own car to the start with your bike.
  • Your car will be returned via the shuttle service offered by Harrismith School 
 

Shuttle bookings will open in February 2024.

Route & GPS

Day 1: 80km

What a great way to start this day high up in the Drakensberg mountains. The sun would have risen as we cycle along the top of the escarpment with sweeping views over KwaZulu Natal. The purpose-built single track built by Sollie Prinsloo traverses through legendry places like Sollie’s Folly, Kirstenbosch wild proteas and yellow wood forests. The Descent into KwaZulu Natal begins at an altitude of 1800 metres above sea level and drops to 900 metres. We begin the descent down an old 4×4 pass called Bezuidenhout’s pass used by local farmers to move their cattle up into the Free State for the summer months and then back down again in the winter. We then veer off on tracks down Qwaggshoek Game farm a beautiful game farm covering both mountains and forest valleys before we end up at the farm entrance. Some fast farm roads then bring us to maize and soya bean fields before arriving at our final big climb of the day passing the historic Easby house. Flowing single tracks under beautiful Acacia trees and the final drop down to The Tugela River ends one of the great days of riding your mountain bike.

Day 2: 62km

Leaving the race village, we soon start climbing out of the Tugela valley past the historic Spioenkop lodge before a long descent through Mount Alice Farm. We will have great views of the Drakensberg mountains as we climb back up via Shongololo single track. Another long descent down Big Red, a 4 x4 track, takes us into St Anton’s – an exhilarating purpose-built track down a ravine riding through large herds of game. Riding along some quiet farm roads we eventually come to the challenge of the day Mike’s Pass. This short sharp cheeky climb challenges most riders before summiting out onto the most incredible views of the Tugela River far below. We then descend down the most fun sections of the day being Puffadder pass and Mazambane. Following single track riding along the banks of the Tugela River we eventually arrive home having had such a fun day out.

Day 3: 52km

Early morning will take the riders to the base of Spioenkop on the southern side of the mountain where we ascend the Zig Zigs. Here riders follow a mellow gradient up and around 13 corners to where the real fun begins. We traverse the side of the mountain for a while before descending down the Fanagalo single track, a section of route which was used in The World Single Speed Champs a few years ago. Riding along the banks of the Tugela River, we pass through Tugela River Lodge before the next climb of the day, which is up and over Brakfontein Hill. Boer fortifications can be seen where they waited for the British to cross the river in 1899. Riders then descend down into The Kloof, a fun flowing section through beautiful African bushveld. At the bottom of The Kloof we ride along the dry river bed, passing Blue Cliffs before climbing out the other side on a section built by well-known trail builder, Glen Harrison. A fast descent, and along sections following cattle tracks, we eventually arrive at Spioenkop mountain climb. This 1.5km climb tests everyone’s fitness before summiting. The 13km descent back to the race village remains a highlight for many mountain bikers.

Entries

Your entry fee includes:

  • 3 days of pure Berg & Bush trails. From the Drakensberg down into KZN bushveld, this is why you ride!
  • 1 beautiful Race Village – your new home!
  • A goodie bag per person
  • 3 meals a day plus access to our famous chill zone
  • 24-hour coffee, tea, juice and crunchie station
  • Race facilities like hot showers, bike wash, chill zones, bar and more.
  • Medical support on the route.
  • Charity-run water points along the route with the most incredible local treats and people manning them!

It does not include:

  • You can add the below tent options on your entry, includes all 3 nights:
    • FishEagle Tent
    • Emseni Room
    • Kudu Tent (Canvas tent with bed and event mattress)
    • Weaver Tent (Large canvas tent with bed, event mattress and linen)
    • Kingfisher Tent (X-Large canvas tent with bed, linen and electricity)
    • Self-camping
  • Shuttles – you can book these separately.
  • Massages, physio, car shuttles, bike transport and bike mechanic service – book these separately.
  • Drinks from our race village pub

Refund Policy

Refunds processed up to 30 April 2024 will be refunded at 90% of entry fee. 

However you can also sell your entry to another rider and do an online substitution.

The same refund policy applies to the cost of a tent, if it cannot be sold to another rider.

No refunds will be made on partial payments. You need to be fully paid up to qualify for refund policy above. 

I undertake to participate entirely at my own risk. I agree that I shall have no claims whatsoever against the organizing body, any individuals, organiser or official, marshal, assistant, helper or agent, the sponsors, any local authority or land owners, in respect of any loss or damage whatsoever I may suffer arising from any injury to my person or loss or damage to property as a result of, or arising out of, whether directly or indirectly, my participation in this event, including my arrival and departure there from and attendance of any ceremony and function thereof, however such loss or damage may arise and regardless of whether or not same shall have been caused directly or indirectly by negligence, of one or more or all of the aforementioned parties. In the event of my approval of this form as a guardian of a minor, I hereby consent to such minor being bound by the foregoing and further I indemnify the aforementioned parties to the extent, if any, to which such minor is not capable of waiving his rights as stipulated within. I agree to participate subject to rules including any drug tests and penalties provided for therein. By entering, I agree to email and SMS communications from EntryNinja and possibly LiveTime depending on the timing provider, regarding event details. I have read the above indemnity and the rules understand them and shall abide by them.

Cancellation due to Force Majeure and Severe Weather. If Berg and Bush is forced to cancel a stage (or stages) due to severe weather conditions or fires that puts riders’ safety at risk, the riders will not have any claim against the organisers or any of their sponsors of whatsoever nature in these circumstances. Berg and Bush reserves the right to change the route for inter alia, safety and security reasons without notice. If Berg and Bush is cancelled in total as a last resort due to events beyond our control (force majeure) – relating to, inter alia, political turmoil, natural disasters, strikes, protest action or any other major disturbance beyond our control, riders will have no claim whatsoever including but not limited to a refund against the organisers or any of their sponsors. This will include entry fees and or flights and other expenses. Berg and Bush will do everything in our power to reroute and to run the event in a safe and secure manner should any event of force majeure arise.

Accommodation

Find accommodation in the Race Village here

Find accommodation near the Race Village here.

Find accommodation +20km from the Race Village here

Fly-in Packages

Thursday 30 May 2024:
Meet at OR Tambo Arrivals at 12:00
You will receive an email with driver’s contact details early in May.
Snack pack and water included.
Arrive at Emseni Race Village around 16:30 for Registration
A mechanic will be waiting to assist with assembling your boxed bike – once done, check your bike into the Shuttle service to the Start on Day 1
Check into your accommodation, enjoy a coffee / beer and relax.
 
Friday 31 May 2024:
Hop on the bus to the Start after breakfast. Your bike will be waiting for you at Windmill Farm (Start of Day 1)
Enjoy your journey!
 
Sunday 2 June 2024:
13:00 – Meet our mechanic next to the Berg & Bush Shop in Race Village
14:00 – Depart Emseni Camp
18:00 – 19:00 – Arrive at OR Tambo
 
R2500 per person.

For bookings email: jani@bergandbush.co.za 

Directions

DIRECTIONS TO REGSITRATION & RACE VILLAGE

  • Transporting from Tokai, Constantia, Claremont, Somerset West, Cape Town and Paarl.
  • Johannesburg and Pretoria Areas
  • Simply drop your bike off race ready, no boxing, no disassembling required.
  • It’s not just transportation. Our customers enjoy service at a personal level, because it’s not our job – it’s our passion!
  • Dean – 082 729 7955bookings@allinevents.co.za
  • Book online at www.allinevents.co.za

Directions from Gauteng

Take the N3 South towards Durban. Go straight through the Tugela Toll Plaza. After 10kms you will find the Bergville offramp. Go up the left ramp and then LEFT towards LADYSMITH on the N11. After 4.6kms turn right onto the R600 towards Spioenkop Dam. After about 15km Em’seni is on your left hand below Spionkop dam wall.

Directions from Durban

Take the N3 North. After Estcourt, pass Ultra City, then take the first offramp Left to BERGVILLE/CENTRAL DRAKENSBERG (R74). Proceed left towards Winterton. Go STRAIGHT through Winterton. After 1km take the R600 right to Spioenkop Dam. Proceed straight for 18km. Em’seni is on the right.

DIRECTIONS TO START OF THE DESCENT AT WINDMILL FARM

  • “Windmill Farm” in Google Maps
  • Their website is http://windmillfarm.co.za
  • GPS: co-ordinates  28° 33′ 09.94 S    29° 04′ 36.05 E

Directions from Johannesburg

  • Take the N3 to Durban / Harrismith. 5km after the Bergview Complex on your left, take the off ramp for N5 Bethlehem / Bergville / Qwa Qwa.
  • Turn right at Stop. Follow road and drive towards the Spur Steak Ranch on your left.
  • Cross over robot and second 4-way Stop.
  • Travel straight on for another 4.5 km and turn left at the first T-Junction – Alternative Durban / R712 / Qwa – Qwa / Phuthaditjhaba / Bergville.
  • Travel on that road for another 8.5 km; once again turn left at the T-Junction onto the Bergville R74.
  • We are 23.1 km further on, on the crest of the Oliviershoek Pass.
  • The old sandstone house on the right.

Directions from Bloemfontein

  • Take the N1 from Bloemfontein to Winburg.
  • At Winburg take the Senekal / Bethlehem / Harrismith turnoff.
  • Just before Harrismith take the R712 Alternative road to Durban / Bergville.
  • Travel for another 8.5km, and turn left onto the Bergville R74.
  • We are 23.1km further on, on the crest of the Oliviershoek Pass.
  • The old sandstone house on the right.

Directions from Durban

  • Take the N3 to Johannesburg. Take the Bergville / Colenso / Winterton / R74 off ramp, 5km after the Escort Ultra City.
  • Follow the sign to Bergville / Winterton (22km).
  • Bypass Winterton to Bergville (22km). Bypass Bergville and carry on straight for another 40km.
  • We are on the top of the Oliviershoek Pass.
  • The old sandstone house on the left.

Bike and Car / Bus Shuttles

Self-drive

Drive your own vehicle with your bike(s) from Emseni Race Village / your Bed & Breakfast to the Start (Windmill Farm) on Friday morning 31 May 2024. The drive takes around an hour from Emseni. Instructions will be sent to you regarding parking and keys at Windmill Farm. Your car will be driven down to Emseni before 3pm on Friday afternoon. Key collection at the Registration tent. Do not keep your bags/valuables in your vehicle as it will arrive later in the day.

Bus for you and your bike

By choosing the bus option, your bike will be transported to the Start (Windmill Farm) on Thursday afternoon – be sure to load your bike at Registration. Safe and secure overnight bikepark at the start. You will then hop on a bus at Emseni Race Village after breakfast on Friday morning. Departure times dependant on your batch Starting time.

All In Events

  • Transporting from Tokai, Constantia, Claremont, Somerset West, Cape Town and Paarl.
  • Johannesburg and Pretoria Areas
  • Simply drop your bike off race ready, no boxing, no disassembling required.
  • It’s not just transportation. Our customers enjoy service at a personal level, because it’s not our job – it’s our passion!
  • Dean – 082 729 7955bookings@allinevents.co.za
  • Book online at www.allinevents.co.za

Itinerary

Thursday, 30 May 2024

  • Registration at Emseni Camp: 14:00 – 20:00
  • Car Shuttle / Busses and bike Transport ticket collection: 12:00 – 20:00
    *Riders taking the Bus option to book bikes into bike transport
  • Dinner: 18:00 – 20:00
  • Race Briefing: 19:00 at Emseni
 

Friday, 31 May 2024

  • Breakfast: 6:00 – 7:00
  • Pre-booked shuttles depart from Emseni: 6:30 (A, B & C batch) / 6h45 (D – I batch) or drive to the start in own vehicle (See Shuttle Bookings)
  • Windmill Farm before the Start: Riders book cars into the shuttle to be returned to Em’seni. 
  • Start: 8:30 (7 minutes between batches)
  • Lunch at Em’seni Camp: 13:00 – 16:00
  • Dinner: 18:00 – 20:00
  • Race Briefing: 19:00
 

Saturday, 1 June 2014

  • Breakfast: 7:00
  • Start: 8:30
  • Lunch: 12:00 – 15:00
  • Registration for Race up Spioenkop: 11:00 – 14:00
  • Race up Spioenkop followed by History talk: 15:00
  • Dinner: 18:00 – 20:00
  • Race briefing and Race up Spioenkop Prize giving: 19:00
 

Sunday, 2 June 2024

  • Breakfast: 6:30
  • Start: 8:00
  • Lunch: 11:00 – 14:00
  • Prize Giving: 13:00

Physio & Massage

To book Sports Massage, Chiro or Physio, please contact Gill for the booking form: bergandbushmassage@gmail.com

  • Sports Massage @ R400.00 per 30 minute session
  • Chiro @ R550 per 30 minute session
  • Physio @ R550 per 30 minute session
  • Taping and strapping is an additional R50 and will be available each morning before the start and during the day in the massage tent
 

Sports Massage can help maintain the body in better condition, prevent injuries and loss of mobility, restore mobility to inured muscles and tissues, boost performance and extend the overall life of your sporting career.

Recovery Zone – Foam Rollers, stretching mats, calf & foot stretchers, resistance bands and Ice Bath Bins.

SPORTS EVENT THERAPISTS are a team of qualified and experienced Sports Massage Therapists, Chiropractors & Physiotherapists who have a passion and love for what we do.

Whilst maintaining a professional approach to our work we like to get to know our clients and share a few jokes inside the Massage Tent to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Prizes, Batching and Results

CATEGORIES FOR 2024:

PRIZEMONEY TBC

Categories:

Solo Men:  1st, 2nd, 3rd

Solo Women: 1st, 2nd, 3rd

TEAMS:

  • Men: 1st, 2nd and 3rd
  • Mixed: 1st, 2nd and 3rd
  • Ladies: 1st, 2nd and 3rd
 

VETS (40 – 49) TEAMS:

  • Men: 1st, 2nd and 3rd
  • Ladies: 1st, 2nd and 3rd
 

MASTERS (50 – 59) TEAMS:

  • Men: 1st, 2nd and 3rd
  • Ladies: 1st, 2nd and 3rd
 

GRANDMASTERS (60+) TEAMS:

  • Men: 1st, 2nd and 3rd
 

BIG BUGGERS (teams over 200kg) TEAMS: 1st, 2nd and 3rd 

Training Programme

We are excited to announce that we have again partnered with Science to Sport’s A/Prof Mike Posthumus to bring you a scientifically developed training programme for the Berg & Bush. The training programme is available to anyone who enters the 2024 Berg & Bush before March of this year. The  10 week training programme will be sent via Newsletter to all entered riders.

Train smart, not hard, and enjoy your best Berg & Bush yet

Rules

  1. All CSA rules apply.
  2. All our local farm rules apply too. Be nice. Be gracious and remember how privileged we are to be able to ride mountain bikes.
  3. Those convicted of doping may not enter!
  4. If you want your prize money, you have to attend prize giving.
  5. Anybody overheard swearing at staff, other riders or race organisers will be blacklisted from all future Berg and Bush events. If you couldn’t get in this year, now you know why.
  6. Anybody starting ahead of their allocated batch will also be blacklisted from any future event. The same rule applies to littering. 
  7. One hour time penalties will be incurred with:
    Riders not being within 2 minutes of each other at any time.
    Riders who give sweets, biscuits or chocolates to the kids on the route.
  8. Begging children are becoming a problem at races. Please don’t encourage them. They are given soccer balls and other incentives to entertain them if they don’t ask for sweets.
  9. The decision of the race director is final. And his wife’s decisions are even more final. 
  10. And the most important rule: make sure you smell the cow dung and look at the views. Before you know it, it will be all over. Enjoy your event.
 

TAKE NOTE:
USING AN ILLEGITIMATE ID NUMBER WILL RESULT IN YOU LOSING YOUR ENTRY AND FORFEITING YOUR PAYMENT. FURTHERMORE, AN EMAIL ADDRESS CANNOT BE USED MORE THAN ONCE – ONE EMAIL ADDRESS MUST BE USED COMBINED WITH ONE ID NUMBER

E-Bike Rules

E-bikes are welcome at The Standard Bank Berg & Bush events, please note – there are some rules.

  • Hybrid teams only (One E-Bike, one normal Mountain Bike) 
  • Solo E-Bikes to join the NEW separate E-Bike race in the 2 Day event called the E-lectric E-Bike E-xperience 
  • ⁠Due to the remote nature of our refreshment stations, Berg & Bush is a one-battery event and no extra batteries will be allowed 
  • ⁠Hybrid Teams will start in D Batch 
  • ⁠No prizes for Hybrid Teams

What to Bring

Download your packing list here

Meals

Delicious meals from Friday Evening to Lunch on Sunday at Em’seni Race Village.

Well-stocked watertables along the Route

24-hour Snack Station

We have vegetarian and gluten-free options available – please choose your option on the entry form.

Mechanics

 
 
 
 
 
  • Trailwolf Cycles 
    Workshop@trailwolf.co.za
    010 007 0660/ Whatsapp 068 169 5728

  • The Bike Rack
    Ladysmith. Contact Dave: bikeracknkr@gmail.com / ‭(083) 340-0875‬

Sponsors

Supporter's Package

R3000 p/p

Includes:

  • Meals from Dinner on Registration night to Lunch on the last day
  • Hot showers and ablutions
  • 24 Hour Tea / Coffee and snack station
  • Access to Race Village and Race Briefings
  • One Supporter point per day on route
*Excludes accommodation

Have any questions?

If there’s anything else you’d like to know or you’re unsure of, reach out to us and we’ll be sure to fill you in.

Jani Maritz

Galleries Of Our Past Races

Not convinced to enter just yet? Take a look at some of our favourite memories from past events to whett your appetite!

Videos

Videos

2022

2022

2021

2021

2019

2019