Nedbank Tour de Tuli 2014 : Day 2 – Crossing the Shashe River

Amphitheatre Bush Camp is a pretty cool place, but you can’t lurk within the beautiful wilds of Botswana for ever. A world of wilderness awaits, and at dawn, a few hundred mountain bikers once again lay tracks onto virgin elephant trails as they pedalled towards Zimbabwe.

Today it was necessary to carry your passport in your back-pack, as one of the unique things about the NEDBANK Tour de Tuli is that you cross two borders during the course of the actual ride. The Shashe River awaited, but to get there you had to man up and deal with a whole lot of attitude from Mother Africa.

Icy morning temperatures; a couple of muddy stream crossings; stacks of dust clouds kicked up by the bikes; chacma baboons barking in the basalt outcrops; lilac-breasted rollers flitting in the dry branches; giraffes in ballet poses attempting to snack on top-side branches; galloping gnus; gliding grey herons; a widow-maker of a hill climb; and a whole bunch of sandy washes perfect for real-time endo exhibitions …

What a day. There was even a sliced-off toe for Bruce Viaene and a couple of water birds having sex, and a giraffe skull as we cranked past the historic Fort Tuli and Zimbabwe’s oldest jail. And at the end of the trail – as usual – the excesses of the day’s camp awaited. Cold beer, cappuccinos, sizzling steaks, a Pirate Bar on a sandy spit, brandy pudding, and more cold beers, just in case.

As night fell over the Shashe, hippopotamii grunted further up in the river bed, and night jars trilled in the whispering trees surrounding camp. Sleep came easily once we eventually sidled into our sleeping bags, and was sorely needed, as another big day awaited just a few hours beyond dreamland.

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