Children in the Wilderness (CITW), organiser and beneficiary of the annual Nedbank Tour de Tuli multi-stage mountain bike event, is proud to celebrate the success of its 14th Tour. This is its 11th year of riding through the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area, where 275 riders, aged between 25 and 75, cycled across more than 250 km of challenging and remote terrain in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe in early August 2018.
“The 2018 Tour not only delivered plenty of adventure, camaraderie and a total immersion in some of Africa’s most pristine and spectacular wilderness areas, but further entrenched the Tour as one of Africa’s premier mountain biking events. Cyclists from around the world – from as far as Russia, Germany, Greece, America and Canada, as well as from Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe – joined us to participate in this life-changing event. The riders felt privileged to cycle in these pristine wildlife areas whilst raising funds for CITW at the same time. We are proud that our efforts for the Tour ultimately translate into making such an important difference to environmental education – and more – in our rural communities”, said Tour Director, Nicola Harris.
With Honourable Tshekedi Khama, Botswana’s Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, opening the Tour and addressing the cyclists at the Limpopo Valley Airfield on the first night, the event was set for an exciting start. Cyclists, both first timers and seasoned regulars, were truly impressed with the 2018 route which included new wilderness trails and a range of additional activities, such as meeting an astronomer, being present at the unveiling of the brand new Nyala Berry Camp in Zimbabwe and visiting a fascinating 140-million-year-old dinosaur fossil site.
Riding through the Tuli Block on Day 1 was a definite highlight of the Tour, with an impressive sunrise, diverse terrain and an interesting stop at ‘Bryce’s Store’, which contains historic tales of the conflict between the British and the Boers dating back to the late 1800s, being most memorable.
“In addition to having some fantastic Botswana suppliers supporting the Tour this year, such as the Juice Company and the Big Sip, other popular aspects of this year’s event included the fresh orange juice tasting at Nottingham Estate, Sentinel Ranch – with a beautiful new camp situated in a nyala berry forest on the Pazhi River – Nedbank sponsored jackets, the gorgeous community-made shweshwe registration bags and the unbelievable showers and tippy tap hand-washing stations, which also saved a lot of water”, Nicola added.
What many people don’t realise is the enormous effort that goes on behind the scenes to ensure a seamless event, from the pre-Tour arrangements to the actual transport of bikes, tent setups, food, drinks, luggage movements and so on. Over 150 staff and volunteers helped CITW set up the camps, a mighty feat, including Coleman Tents for each rider and volunteer; they also helped serve delicious food and beverages and ensure the riders were well looked after throughout the Tour. Bean There coffee stations were a hit, as were the daily 20-minute massages from the dedicated Balancing Touch team. Those faced with technical problems could visit the onsite Hot Spot Cycles repair station. After the day’s shower, the tented main area and scenic spots at each camp became a hub for social gatherings, with firm favourites being the lawns at the Limpopo River Camp in Botswana, the forest of the Nyala Berry camp and watching the sun set on the decks at Mapungubwe, where the views offer vistas of all three countries.
“I cannot thank our team and volunteers enough for the hours of effort and tireless energy 24/7, and for the generosity and spirit of our sponsors and participants; together we can truly continue to play a meaningful role in developing Africa’s next generation of environmental leaders”.