Monday, 1 December 2014

Altitude Training Options: South Africa and Lesotho

South Africa’s diverse natural beauty and pleasant climate (most of the year) make it a popular tourist destination.  It’s colourful political past also make it an interesting place to visit, and once you’ve saved for the airfare, travel is relatively cheap.  Security and personal safety are, however, always a concern, and visitors should take reasonable precautions against crime, particularly in the large cities.  Trips can be very rewarding, and facilities are generally better than elsewhere in Africa.  Best of all, South Africa provides a great opportunity to train in a warm, pleasant climate during the northern hemisphere winter.

Potchefstroom is possibly the best known of the altitude training destinations in South Africa, but, while the facilities there are excellent, at 1,350m above sea level it is hardly high enough to initiate an altitude training response.

The small tourist town of Dullstroom (2,080m), located east of Johannesburg, is a much less well known training spot, but has a greater variety of trails, is safer, has an excellent choice of holiday accommodation, and is considerably higher.  The area is particularly beautiful, but lacks a track and other training facilities.

Photos from my trips to Potchefstroom and Dullstroom can be viewed here. There are blogs from South Africa  hereherehere and here.

Somewhere that has excellent facilities for many sports is the High Performance Centre ( at the University of Pretoria, where there is more than 70 hectares of land dedicated to sports facilities.  The centre’s altitude is approximately 1,350m, with areas up to 1,500m within the city.

Johannesburg also has some altitude training possibilities, though the city’s reputation for crime is a major turn-off for foreign visitors.

The entire area of Lesotho, a small country which is completely surrounded by South Africa, sits above 1,400 m of altitude.  Covered with rugged mountains and spectacular scenery, Lesotho has a massive tourism potential, and authorities there are beginning to develop altitude training opportunities.  AfriSki resort (3,030m) and Mohale Village (2,200m) are among the currently available options.

Adriaan Geldenhuys wrote a guest blog on altitude training in Lesotho for us in 2013.

Potchefstroom and Dullstroom are detailed in Notes from Higher Grounds: An Altitude Training Guide for Endurance Athletes.  The book also contains further information on training options in Pretoria and Lesotho.

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