Highlights from the 2017 Tour: Spectacular wildlife sightings, community interactions and incredible scenery
“Cyclists from around the world joined us to take part in this remarkable event that once again saw a mix of seasoned riders and first-time participants taking part. We are privileged to be able to enjoy riding in these pristine wildlife areas, and to do so while raising funds for Children in the Wilderness. We are extremely proud that our efforts ultimately translate into making such an important difference to environmental education in our rural communities”, said Tour Director, Nicola Harris.
Honourable Tshekedi Khama, Botswana’s Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, set the excitement for the days to follow with a memorable address on the first night at Limpopo Valley Airfield. Along the route, highlights included breaks at beautiful viewpoints such as Cecil John Rhodes’ Baobab and Solomon’s Wall. The tea and brunch stops, set up at surprise locations along the route, are always much appreciated; while on the final day the highlight was undoubtedly viewing 200-year-old fossils on display at the Bristow’s House, discovered in the nearby vicinity.
The camp setup, a mighty feat, included Coleman Tents for each rider and volunteer, delicious food, beverages, Bean There Coffee, a dedicated massage team from Balancing Touch and a 32GI recovery drink station. 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 koppie at the Amphitheatre Bush Camp, the ‘beach’ at Maramani and the Mapungubwe viewing decks.
It was a thrill for participants to be able to meet the local school children supported by Children in the Wilderness at Lentswe-le-Moriti school in Botswana and at Shashe Primary School in Zimbabwe. The children, all bearing their country’s flag, expressed great delight at meeting the cyclists and each received a backpack with stationery. The children enjoyed being taken on a few short rides by some of the dusty, friendly Tour participants.
“Many people ask us how we manage to pull off such a seamless event and the answer is always the same – an event like this is not possible without the wonderful volunteers and dedicated staff that we have. I cannot thank my team enough for the hours of effort and tireless energy 24/7 to ensure that our cyclists not only had the best mountain biking experience during the day, but were cared for and spoilt throughout the Tour,” Harris added.
“Over 150 staff and volunteers helped us put up 1 500 tents (and take them down again), serve 8 688 beers, 202 bottles of wine and 5 800 cups of Bean There Coffee. We had lots of laughs, drinks at night to toast the day and many new friendships made; the spirit of the 2017 Tour was, as always, remarkable. We cannot thank our sponsors and participants enough for their generosity; together we really can continue to play a meaningful role in developing Africa’s next generation of environmental leaders.”