August marks Women’s Month in South Africa, and we are ecstatic to celebrate a lady very close to Children in the Wilderness – our Nedbank Tour de Tuli Director, Nicola Harris. Nicola was featured as one of the South African tourism industry’s wonder women, in a feature by We Are Africa. You can read the full report here, but we’ve shared Nicola’s Wonder Woman story below:
Nicola is the director of the Nedbank Tour de Tuli. Over the past 13 years, this annual multi-day mountain bike event has raised more than R18 million for the charity Children in the Wilderness (CITW), enabling more than 16,000 children to discover the magic of Africa’s wilderness areas.
“That’s the beauty of the Tour de Tuli: It has an unbelievable ability to bring people together into the community”
Since you joined the Tour de Tuli 10 years ago, how has the Tour changed?
It’s changed enormously. While securing access with landowners and government was quite chaotic in the early years, nowadays there’s a lot more planning and logistics that goes into the event.
We also rely completely on volunteers, and over the years, people now know what they’re doing and what’s expected. We’ve managed to build up the right people over the years.
What are the stats for this year’s event?
We’ll have 320 riders in groups of 10-17 per group. That includes leaders and hosts for each group. All our hosts have a wildlife background so they can bring more of the touring aspect to the event.
Then, we have around 80 volunteers and more staff working on the event in the background.
That’s the beauty of the Tour de Tuli: It has an unbelievable ability to bring people together into the community.
It seems like a fun event, but it’s all actually for a good cause?
It’s all in aid of CITW, and we raise around R2.4 million each year. We try and obtain as much sponsorship as possible to cover our overhead costs. Nedbank have been the title sponsor for the past three years.
Our long-term goal is raising funds for CITW, but we also want to see communities to benefit. This year we provided seeds to the local Shashe community, allowing us to purchase a lot of the fresh produce we need for the event directly from them.
The Tour de Tuli website describes you as a ‘no-nonsense blonde’… is that true?
(laughs) I have been called a dragon once or twice. I’m really just an honest, direct person. I’m driven. Tenacity is in my blood!