June 2017 – Tour de Wilderness, the organiser of the acclaimed Nedbank Tour de Tuli multi-stage mountain bike event, has launched the route for 2017, which will see 320 riders cycle across 253 km of challenging and remote terrain in Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa between 27 July and 1 August.
“If this year’s route launch, which took place on 23 May at the Nedbank Head Office in Sandton, is anything to go by, we are looking forward to an exciting Tour ahead, and can’t wait to host this exceptional group of cyclists, from seasoned regulars to first-timers, on this life-changing journey”, said Tour Director, Nicola Harris.
“One of the many attractions of the Nedbank Tour de Tuli is that the route changes each year, providing new and interesting sights to see along the way. In addition to the wonderful camaraderie, adventure, scenery, community engagement and hospitality that has become synonymous with the Nedbank Tour de Tuli, this year, the 13th edition of the Tour, promises to surpass expectations of first-time riders, and of course we have tweaked the route to add some new trails to keep our seasoned riders enthralled,” added Harris.
Itinerary highlights over the four days of cycling include:
Day 1: Limpopo Valley Airfield (Botswana) to Amphitheatre Bush Camp (Botswana) – approximately 65 km
Highlights of the first day include dramatic sandstone ridges before breaking for tea at Pride Rock. In this area riders will be able to test their mountain bike skills in some of the sandy sections and on a few climbs. A lone baobab, before brunch, is situated at the top of a plateau affording spectacular panoramic views. After brunch, cyclists can look forward to unmanicured single track, while looking out for elephant, which are plentiful along this part of the route.
Day 2: Amphitheatre Bush Camp Loop (Botswana) – approximately 50 km
The second day begins with a river crossing to warm up before moving into open plains along well-used elephant tracks. The first 10 km of the ride will take riders through superb wilderness areas in the Tuli Wilderness Reserve. Tea will be situated under large apple-leaf trees, roughly 19 km from camp. An exciting new challenge awaits those brave enough to swap their bike for a Qhubeka Buffalo bike where they will ride along the 5 km route to the village of Lentswe-le-Moriti – the average distance that the children walk each day to get to school.
From brunch, riders will drop into the Limpopo River under the Lentswe Wall, a remarkable natural wonder. There are two easy portages in this section that entail a quick visit to the school and then back into the wilderness, arriving at the Mmagwa Ruins. A spectacular sight awaits at the top of the Ruins with 360-degree views of the baobab-studded surrounds. Other sightings to tick off include the Cecil John Rhodes Baobab and Solomon’s Wall. Riders will once again overnight at Amphitheatre Bush Camp.
Day 3: Amphitheatre Bush Camp (Botswana) to Maramani Camp (Zimbabwe) – approximately 70 km
This is a longer day with an early start that encompasses wonderful single track in mopane bushveld. The route continues as a single track all the way to the tea stop, approximately 23 km from camp. Riders will then head into the heart of Mashatu Game Reserve where excellent game viewing awaits. Brunch will be served on the banks of the Shashe River before bidding farewell to Botswana and clearing customs. The Zimbabwean section of the route is roughly 24 km with single track through riverine forest, filled with lala palms, massive ironwood, fig, mashatu and fever trees. There will be a quick visit to the Shashe Primary School before heading to Maramani Camp.
Day 4: Maramani Community Camp (Zimbabwe) to Mapungubwe (South Africa) – approximately 68 km
The day starts with easy fast riding on Jeep track all the way through community lands to tea set under shady trees on the banks of the Pazhi River. This is a wonderful area for sighting game amongst the acacia and mopane bushveld. After brunch, riders will cross the Shashe road and can look forward to cycling through age-old trees before passing the Bristow house where they will be shown a display of 200 million-year-old fossils. Other highlights include the fossil site, ancient baobabs and the Sizi Spring, before the border crossing into South Africa.
All funds raised by the Tour are channelled directly into Children in the Wilderness (CITW), a non-profit organisation that runs sustainable environmental education programmes to bridge the divide between communities and the adjoining wildlife areas they live next to. Through Eco-Clubs and fun, educational camp programmes, rural children are inspired to respect their environment and to appreciate the long-term value of conservation, becoming the future custodians of Africa’s pristine wilderness areas.
“The Tour is one of the main fundraisers for CITW and it is largely thanks to the incredible generosity of our sponsors and participants that we are able to play a meaningful role in developing Africa’s next generation of environmental leaders. We are looking forward to giving cyclists the opportunity to see the difference they are making in people’s lives as they interact with some of the communities that CITW supports along the way”, says Janet Wilkinson, CITW Programme Manager.
Click here to watch a short video showing the highlights of last year’s Nedbank Tour de Tuli.