Zimbabwe: Inaugural Wildrun Tourism Expedition

The inaugural Wild Run tourism expedition was successfully held in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation area (GMTFCA) with a total of 30 tourists drawn from the United States, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

The GMTFCA is made up of national parks from Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa.

Zimbabwe's transfrontier conservation area (TFCA) programme officer Miss Kuda Chigodo said the expedition seeks to market the mega park as the best tourist resort in the SADC region.

The participants had the opportunity to run following wild animals' treks in the three countries' components of the park for 90 km, to experience wildlife, cultural and natural resources in selected areas.

"This is the first of its kind expedition in the world which involves three countries. Previous events where this has been held were in Lesotho, South Africa and Namibia.

"The whole idea is to promote tourism in the TFCA as well as developing community based tourism. You will note that so far Boundless Southern Africa has donated camping equipment worth R327 000 to upgrade the Maramani Community Camp in Beitbridge," she said.

She said as a way of giving back to the community, the organisers had also engaged labour from the local community and also trained some of them on catering for large groups of people and camp set up.

Wild run director, Mr Owen Middleton, said they were looking forward to make the expedition an annual event just like the Tour de Tuli which is held in the same area every year.

"We are looking at increasing the number of participants to 80 next year. Events like these help to unlock future tourism opportunities and projects. We decided to set camp in Zimbabwe this time so that the community could derive maximum benefits from cultural and natural resources around them.

"We will build on the success for this event for future programmes and we are grateful for the support from the governments of Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa for the privilege to have such an event," he said.

Beitbridge district administrator Mr Simon Muleya said the success of the Wild Run was the first step towards promoting cross border products in the TFCA, with Tour de Tuli having set the pace since 2009.