2017 marked the 13th year of the Nedbank Tour de Tuli multi-stage mountain bike event that saw 255 cyclists ride a total of 248 km through pristine wilderness areas in Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
One of the main highlights of the mountain bike ride is the opportunity for cyclists to explore areas that would otherwise be off limits to the public – a chance to explore the scenic beauty of these areas while looking out for interesting sights and wildlife.
As part of the journalist crew we had the opportunity of enjoying a surprise game drive, organised by Mashatu Game Reserve, on arrival at the Limpopo Valley Airfield. Our guide arrived to pick us up and explained that we were going to drive through areas where the cyclists would ride. Our aim was to see what we could spot with the hope of some prize wildlife sightings while we were at it!
We were in luck! Driving along we came across large herds of elephants, from the smallest trunks to old cows watching carefully over their young. Following this we came upon a cheetah and her two sub-adult cubs lying in the shade of an acacia tree. The two cubs were completely absorbed in play, rolling about while their mother slept beside them.
If this was not enough, our guide explained that he was hoping to spot a leopard. He began following tracks which led to a majestic mashatu tree. The large tree had the remains of an impala intertwined in the branches. We looked around but there was no sign of the leopard.
Just when we had almost given up, we all exclaimed ‘leopard’! A beautiful leopard lay on a large branch of another mashatu tree shimmering in the golden light. We sat watching the leopard while enjoying sundowners before reluctantly heading
back to our camp spot. We had all felt very lucky to have been part of this experience.
Throughout the Tour the cyclists had many wonderful sightings – especially of large elephant herds. Apart from game, there were many beautiful viewpoints such as Cecil John Rhodes’ Baobab and Solomon’s Wall. The social gatherings at night were particularly memorable with groups sitting atop a koppie at Amphitheatre Bush Camp while looking over the panoramic views of the Tuli Game Reserve.
The Nedbank Tour de Tuli is a life-changing event, not only for cyclists but most importantly for the event’s main fundraiser Children in the Wilderness (CITW). CITW is an environmental education programme that is aimed at young children living in rural wilderness areas. CITW is committed through their education programme to changing the lives of these young learners and inspiring them to become future custodians of these wilderness areas in future.
Watch the newly released 2017 Nedbank Tour de Tuli video below!
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eA5BznabKTw