Imagine mountain biking through some of the most pristine wilderness areas Mother Nature has to offer along natural pathways carved out by centuries of animal movements – all for a good cause known as the Children in the Wilderness (CITW).
The tour was started by the CITW team six years ago as a tool in their charity drive to raise funds for their various programmes. CITW is an environmental and life skills educational programme that focuses on the next generation of rural decision makers. It is one of the few programmes aimed at bridging the divide that exists between communities and wildlife.
Originally the tour was called the Tour de Kruger and traversed areas in South Africa and Mozambique centred on the Kruger National Park. In 2008, the event was renamed as the ‘Tour de Tuli ‘and followed a new route, traversing through Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa at the intersection between these three countries in the Tuli area. The event has etched its way into the hearts of the cycling fraternity, having only 127 cyclists on the first tour and now – at a self-imposed ceiling to keep the event intimate – having in excess of 380!
The tour combines some of the best mountain biking around, with a true wilderness experience along with all the comforts that one would expect from a world class cycling event. To maximise enjoyment, the cyclist are divided into small groups all lead by experienced cyclist leaders . The groups generally ride around 60 – 80km a day stopping along the way to enjoy wildlife sightings and scenic spots as well as being treated to scrumptious lunch stops and tea stops along the way. As the event is a cycle tour and not a race, the groups ride at a pace whereby they can take in the essence of the African bush and often have sightings of a myriad of wildlife such as elephant, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and even the odd predator to name but a few.
This year the tour will start in Botswana, in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve – a wilderness area that has become known as the ‘Land of Giants’ owing to the large elephant numbers, Baobab Trees and Kori Bustards that occur in the area. It is a wilderness concession that ranges over 80 000ha and is nestled in the south-eastern corner of Botswana, bordering South Africa and Zimbabwe. The first two days will be spent cycling through Tuli along mostly ancient elephant pathways and game trails.
On the second day of the tour, the cyclists will make their way north towards the Tuli Circle, an area that Cecil John Rhodes used as an outpost in the 1800s as it borders on Botswana and Zimbabwe, but will track east before reaching the Tuli Circle. From here we cross the Sashe River into remote communal lands on the Zimbabwe side where the cultural interaction adds yet another aspect to the Tour
The third day will treat cyclists to some amazing single track cycling surrounded by the breath-taking scenery of Sentinel Ranch and Nottingham Estate. These Zimbabwean ranches are characterised by beautiful sandstone extrusions and flowing single track riding.
The last day of cycling will allow us the opportunity of enjoying some really great cycling on Nottingham Estate, before crossing the Limpopo River out of Zimbabwe and back into South Africa. The cycle tour will end at the Mapungubwe National Park, a fitting end to a great adventure!
Throughout the tour, the logistics are taken care of, allowing the cyclists to really enjoy the riding and have great fun with friends and colleagues . The cyclists are accommodated in dome tents and have the luxury of a hot shower after a long day in the saddle. The food is superb, often people remarking (unbelievably) that they gain weight on the trip. The camps are always placed in areas with iconic beauty and scenery, especially the last evening which is spent alongside the famous Mapungubwe Hill, the centre of a powerful civilization, inhabiting the area during approximately 1250 – 1450 . To ease the aches and pains, there is a team of masseuses and a team of medical profesionals.The Land Rover Owners Club of South Africa provides back-up services, and Cyclelab takes care of the bicycles.
Over the four days the groups cover around 300kms of Africa’s best.
This really is a world class event and is a must for anyone who has a desire for adventure and wants to help the children of Africa. For more info, please visit:
For a snapshot of what you can expect in this years edition of the Tour de Tuli, please click on the link below: