The Freedom Challenge is an initiative undertaken in conjunction with the Wilderness Foundation and national and provincial conservation and tourism agencies. The aim was to establish a mountain bike trail running across South Africa that is focused on remoteness, engendering a sense of wilderness, and is interesting to ride. The trail must be fully serviced and can be ridden unsupported, and must deliver tangible economic benefits to rural communities in a responsible and sustainable manner.
In some countries around the world, mountain biking has been at odds with the objectives of managing designated wilderness areas. The speed and wheeled technology of mountain bikes, and the aggressive exuberance of some riders, can combine to create ecological and social impacts that need careful monitoring. The sport itself can be incompatible with solitude-seeking wilderness hikers. As a result, mountain biking is not allowed in some designated wilderness areas round the world.
The Freedom Challenge recognizes the validity of concerns about the impact of and appropriateness of mountain biking in wilderness areas. However, it also recognizes the significant benefits that mountain biking can bring to poor, rural communities including those living in close proximity to wilderness areas. The Freedom Challenge is accordingly based on a conservation ethic and practice that adheres to strong ecological standards whilst also meeting the needs of those poor, rural communities. The initiative has been structured to achieve this.
* The Wilderness Foundation is a project driven conservation organisation that strives to create opportunities for economic and social equality and achieves its mission by initiating and implementing programmes that are concentrated in four main areas: Conservation; Social; Advocacy and Awareness; and Experiential Education.
Wild areas relate to our people’s sense of humanity, and its loss in overcrowded living spaces, to our knowing of the natural web of life, or our desensitisation to it, and to our sense of place in the world beyond degraded townships and urban areas.