The Sunday News
Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
A TOTAL of 233 new tourists are set to participate at this year’s edition of the Tour de Tuli tourism expedition, which is held annually in the Greater Mapungubwe Trans-frontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA).
The event will run from 27 July to 1 August for the 13th year. The mega park is located on the western part of Beitbridge and comprises the Northern Tuli Game Reserve (Botswana), Tuli National Park and Maramani Communal lands (Zimbabwe) and the Mapungubwe National Park (South Africa).
The expedition involves mountain bike tours and seeks to market the GMTFCA as one of the best tourist resorts in the Sadc region. The cyclists pass through three countries during the course of the event.
The participants are drawn from countries like the United States of America, Britain, Canada, Germany, Australia, Austria, Italy, Netherlands, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Children in the Wilderness (CITW), a South African company is co-ordinating the expedition on behalf of the three governments.
CITW spokesperson, Ms Nirvani Pillay, said 73 percent of the tourists at this year’s edition were new entries.
“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 kilometres of challenging and remote terrain in Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa between 27 July and 1 August,”she said.
“As the primary fundraiser for Children in the Wilderness (CITW), the Tour has hosted approximately 3 056 cyclists and raised R16,9 million to date since the first Tour in 2004.
“The Tour is well known for its extremely high standards of service, tented accommodation in beautiful wilderness locations and the unique experience of riding through some of Africa’s most pristine, wildlife and geologically-rich areas. We also follow very strict environmental practices and every campsite is left in the state in which it was originally found.”
She said the event will be held under the theme “Focusing on GMTFCA, cycling here for the past 10 years”.
The tourists will enter Botswana from South Africa through the Pont-Drift border Botswana on 27 July where they will camp for two nights at the Limpopo Valley Airfield. They will proceed to Zimbabwe through a tourism border near Maramani Communal Lands and camp at the Maramani Tourism Camp for one day and leave for South Africa on 31 July through another tourism border. Tour director, Ms Nicola Harris said the tour route was launched on 23 May at the Nedbank head office in Sandton, Johannesburg.
“We are looking forward to an exciting event ahead, and can’t wait to host this exceptional group of cyclists, from seasoned regulars to first-timers, on this life-changing journey.
“One of the many attractions of the tour 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 tour,” added Ms Harris.
She said all funds raised during the tour will be spent on sustainable environmental education programmes to bridge the divide between communities and the adjoining wildlife areas they live next to.