Isdore Guvamombe Tourism Matrix
IN a world where cities have become huge brick, mortar and cement concrete jungles there is nothing that beats the experience of biking in a single file, following footpaths made by elephants as they frolic the African jungle, grazing and searching for drinking water.
Biking through stunted mopane bush shrubbery whose grazeline resembles a schoolboy’s neatly trimmed haircut, past rock promontories dotted above savanna grasslands, along dry river beds, intermittently avoiding a buffet of elephant dung that could easily puncture the tyre, can be an experience many might never have in a lifetime.
Dust caking on the back of the muscle top, sweat drenching every part of the body and the thirsty sun suckling moisture from mother earth, sending lips ashen dry, is the story of cycling in Tour de Tuli, where fun and resilience are the catchwords.
What with cycling while keeping an eye on wildlife?
There are high chances of bumping into a giant elephant, seeing a kudu with its ironpolished corkscrew horns shoot like a spear from one side of the path into another or a wild pig take off in athletic gait, tail up and huge side teeth superimposing themselves, shaggy bushbuck and the nimble-footed impala take off on spindly legs.
Then there is the experience of cycling past rustic African villages, the smiles and hand waves from stunned villagers, the drink from bottle stores that suddenly appear between bushes, rock outcrops and the dry rivers.
The dusty dirty roads! The multitudes of goats and cattle that wander across the open veldts, a spitting distance from the wildlife-infested jungles.
Three or four nights camped on the bed of Limpopo or Shashi rivers, away from the hullaballoo of urban life, with a cacophony of sounds from Africa’s perfect theatre of the jungle snorting you to a deserved sleep, is what Tour de Tuli prescribes for you as souvenir for your memory.
The tourism showpiece was held in Zimbabwe for the second year running. Previously, it was a preserve of Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa under the banner Tour de Kruger.
The cycling/mountain bike expedition took place last week under the theme “Using Adventure to Build a Better World”.
The first batch entered Zimbabwe through Tuli Circle Safari Area on August 5 and the second group entered Zimbabwe the following day.
Included in these groups were journalists from various international media.
The 280 riders and their support staff rode through Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa; and three national parks, namely Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Tuli Circle and Mapungubwe National Park.
In addition, the route in Zimbabwe included an area in Beitbridge to the west, through Maramani communal lands and Sentinel Ranch, which is home to dinosaur fossils and footprints that are more than 200 million years old as well as grain bin shelters from the late Iron Age.
The event no doubt marketed Zimbabwe as a tourist destination of choice.
The event received coverage on DStv, Super Sport and in many tourism magazines at no cost at all.
The event draws cyclists from across the globe to traverse participating countries and offers a unique marketing opportunity for the tourism sector.
The 280km journey transgressing Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa attracted cyclists from Scotland, the USA, China and Canada, among other countries.