By definition a river is either flat or flowing downhill – therefore the total ascent (meters climbed) for the Drak Descent = Nil. Wrong – X. Remember, there is some exploring to be done from a position of altitude; to find the right river; see where the paddlers are; cross tributaries where they are not too deep or wide; portage around rocky river cliffs and gorges – and sometimes you just lose your way – don’t you, and you need to check-out your surroundings!! Hence the now famous saying “Life is not all down-hill”.


Also, what comes to mind when you think of any river? Water, rocks, vegetation, roots, trees, fish, snakes, crocodiles, etc. So, how on earth are we going to ride next to all that?? Well, with some difficulty! – but wherever we can, we are going to do exactly that – by using cattle, walking, Eland, horse, jeep, other and occasionally bike trails and/or no trails at all to keep a tail on those canoeists. We can’t let them get away’!! 

Many of the trails are virgin and are cobbled together by a couple of bridges (some floating but according to local folklore the Euro Steel “Waltzing Bridge” at Ekhutuleni on Day 1 being the most fearsome!) some berms and switchbacks and a couple of rocky gorges and cliff portages. Oh! …. and unlike the Voortrekkers, a couple of stretches of potholed tar!! Once again, depending on the River Gods there may well be some river wading – at which point you may want to borrow a canoe?

So, please don’t expect all tailored and manicured trails. But, the good news is that eventually on Day 1 and the start of Day 2, you will get down to the well-established and legendary Sani Spoors river, forest and cattle trails.

The course will follow small tributaries of the Umzimkulu river from their source at Restmount Children’s Home down to Underberg on day 1 (+-45 kms with +-500m of ascent) and then from Underberg to the Umzimkulu River Lodge (+-40kms with +-400m of ascent) on day 2 – allowing you time to get home reasonably early on Sunday.
Whilst the days are not particularly long or hilly, feedback from most of the riders last year is that the route is tough, technical and challenging – but the event spirited and fun. They said “Please don’t change anything!”

In order to preserve the pristine areas through which you will traverse, there will be limited marking as we are going green – Tiger Wheel and Tyre are sponsoring the GPS marking of all Sani Spoors Trails, including the Race Route.  

GPS Navigation

For our 1st Year of GPS Navigation we have teamed up with EasyBike to make sure you have the best GPS experience.

Our GPS Gurus

EasyBike will be our GPS information and support gurus. They will be able to answer questions leading up to the event, at registration and during the event. If you have any questions, you can also email them directly on

They are also retail experts and have a wide range of GPS units available to fit everyone’s budget. To see their offering visit or email them for incredible Drak Descent offers.

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. This incredible system of navigation has made the Drak Descent a better event. It is tried and tested and it is so easy to use!

  • Our route and single-track will still be prepared 110% for happiness but now riders will feel a sense of adventure using their GPS.
  • You will be able to show friends and family exactly where you have ridden, what your stats were, etc.
  • It ensures riders slow down and smell the cow poo as they cross this great county.

EasyBike have the following Preloaded GPS Specials for riders (Email EasyBike address above):

  • Garmin Instinct – R4899
  • Garmin Forerunner 245 – R4999
  • Garmin Forerunner 645 – R5799
  • Garmin Forerunner 945 – R9999
  • Garmin Edge 130 Bundle – R3049
  • Garmin Edge 530 Topo Active Africa Performance Bundle – R6499
  • Garmin Edge 830 Topo Active Africa Performance Bundle – R8499
  • Garmin Edge 1030 Bundle – R10499
  • Garmin Fenix 5S Plus Sapphire – Black with Black Band – R9999
  • Garmin Fenix 5S Plus Sapphire – Rose Gold Tone with Carrara White Band – R9999
  • Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Sapphire – Titanium with Solar Flare Orange Band – R9999
  • Garmin Fenix 6X Pro – Black with Black Band – R10999
  • Garmin Fenix 6X Sapphire – Carbon Gray DLC with Black Band – R13999
  • Polar Vantage V – R7699
  • Polar V650 HR (H10) – R4499
  • Suunto 9 G1 Baro – Black – R8299

To make life easier we come up an FAQs section to help you answer some questions we think you may have.

Where can I buy a GPS? 

You can checkout the EasyBike website or email them directly for assistance with purchasing a GPS. Website: or Email: Quote “Drak Descent” for GPS options and pricing.

Do I have to have a GPS?

For the Drak Descent & Drak Descent MTB Challenge you do require a GPS in order to navigate to the finish each day. The Run The Rivers Trail Run is also a GPS Navigation event this year.

What type of GPS do I need? 

A GPS that can be mounted on a bike, you are able to upload a track or course and that allows you to follow these tracks.

What devices are recommended?

There are a number of suitable GPS navigation devices available. To find out if your GPS unit is suitable, you need to establish if it can upload GPX, TCX or FIT files to follow the tracks or courses.

We do not endorse any particular unit. You will have to do some research to make sure you are happy. But when in doubt ask EasyBike our GPS gurus

Our goal is to provide you with a wonderful GPS experience regardless of which device you use – we will have a generic approach to GPS so that we include all users. Our recommendation is to get your GPS device soon and practise – it is easy. If you have an issue please contact us.

Why do I need a special GPS unit and not my mobile phone?

Okay, this is a good question so follow carefully. You can theoretically use some apps on your mobile phone to link to GPS direct without requiring network signal, however, this is not optimal as there are many areas of the ride where data connection for mobile phones is non-existent.

Other reasons mobile phones are not appropriate as your main GPS device:

  • The battery on a mobile phone will run out quickly
  • The screen on a mobile phone times out to avoid the battery running out, so you need to keep activating the screen to come on which further wastes battery (and could be dangerous)
  • You will need to find a bike mount for your mobile phone, and if it rains most mobile phones are not waterproof
  • The screens are very difficult to see in the sun on most mobile phones
  • Mobile phones are not robust and if you do have a fall they could shatter unlike GPS devices which are more rugged.
  • The GPS accuracy on your mobile phone is not as accurate as a dedicated GPS device. This causes problems when following a track or course can prove to be very difficult as your phone will always think you are off course.

The idea is to use your mobile as a backup. Take it with you in case but do not rely on it. It is not a suitable substitute for a dedicated GPS device. Your GPS device is easy to see, follow and more accurate it will stay on at all times, it uses a fraction of the battery power, and it is designed for this purpose.

When will we receive the route files to upload to our GPS devices?

We will send the final daily routes to you in early October 2017. These files will also be available at registration at the EasyBike GPS helpdesk – our gurus will be there to assist. Try not to wait until registration to upload as you want to be comfortable with this before.

How do we upload these files?

We will send you files of the final route together with instructions on how to load your device. Your device will come with all that information, however we are available to provide help on all devices. If you are struggling we will have a dedicated person to guide you through it.

Do I need to upload maps on to my device?

NO and this is a big NO. Maps are not necessary – all you need to do if follow the route on your device. Maps are difficult to follow on a small device like a bike GPS and they chow battery. You are simply tracking a route each day and most devices have a warning to let you know you are off the route.

Remember with GPS you could go wrong but you will never get lost!

How does GPS work?

You will have the route for each day uploaded on your device. You will select the day and off you go. You will follow what is called the “breadcrumb” track. If you go off the track most devices let you know that you are off, in addition you will see your arrow is off the track. On the Drak Descent you should have no trouble staying on track as our route does not overlap. (point A to B).

Will I have enough battery life?

You should have more than enough for each day and in some cases even more. Every manufacturer is different but try go for a device that has the longest battery life. Most modern units have very good battery life.

Do both riders have to have GPS in the team?

Yes, not only does this help you navigate quicker by checking each other but also safer when racing. In fact, this is especially important for the racing snakes. Having two units lets you plan ahead. One rider can have a big view of what’s coming and the other rider zooms in.

What happens if my GPS runs out of battery life or stops working and I am on route?

You will need to follow other riders and we will have our off-road rescue partners ensuring all riders get back safely.

What is stopping me from taking shorter routes?

We will be having check points to ensure all riders are on track. This will also ensure we know if anyone is lost.

Can I ride the routes outside of the event?

No, unfortunately not. Most of our route is through private land and farmers will treat any other riders on their land as trespassers. They have been instructed to shoot. This will jeopardise any future events.

Which make of GPS is better?

We have tried a few makes from entry-level through to top-end and they all work well. The main thing to consider is your budget, your needs and their support level. Questions you should ask: do I want more than a GPS i.e. training, heart rate, power etc.

Will there be GPS support at the event?

We will have full GPS support from guys who know their stuff during the event. Your manufacturers will have websites devoted to helping you too, visit their sites and ask loads of questions.

How will I charge my GPS unit during the event?

We will have a charging solution at each race village.