Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls

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When sport goes Green

When sport goes Green

Zambezi Cycle Challenge - view of the Zambezi Gorges
Zambezi Cycle Challenge - view of the Zambezi Gorges
Bruno De Leo

 

www.zambezicyclechallenge.com

Having worked in the tourism industry and lived in the Chobe and in Victoria Falls for almost 30 years now, I often think back to the day I decided to leave a busy city life to live on the banks of the Chobe and Zambezi in Kazungula. What a privilege it has been to be able to raise a family and enjoy so many years living in such an unspoilt natural environment.

As a venue, the Zambezi River with its surrounding natural beauty makes a formidable destination which must rank with the most popular locations. This iconic waterway, lined largely by unspoilt and natural game parks and forest reserves, boasts great weather, friendly people and features one of the seven Natural Wonders; it is enough to get any nature lover’s juices flowing.

As an avid mountain biker, I was recently part of a group that organised a cycling event with all the proceeds going to conservation causes. The participants loved their three day ride and it was a great success. But just as importantly, a significant amount of money was raised that will go to preserving the parks we rode through, this contributed to the participants’ enjoyment. So a sustainable event has been launched which will take place annually and undoubtedly go from strength to strength.

Responsible travellers are a strong force out there. Looking after their interests creates a win-win situation for Zambezi destinations’ resources and communities, as these travellers intend to make a positive contribution and difference to the places visited.

Sports Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the global travel industry and historically the Zambezi has hosted high-profile sporting contests such as the White Water Rafting and Kayaking World Championships, World Strongman competition, motorbike enduros, marathons, regattas, cycling, canoeing, golfing and many others.

Most of the major ones have been around for a while, however destination sporting fixtures are becoming more popular and more options are becoming available as new events start up.

Notably, organisers use these sporting occasions as drawcards to raise funds for worthy charitable causes. Perhaps this contributes to the growth in popularity of these functions as well as the attraction of the destination itself? The increasing pressures on the environment as the human population spreads and encroaches on wildlife areas seems to have spurred all into action to protect the proverbial goose they rely on to make a living.

One thing is clear, forms of recreation where the participants derive huge pleasure and enjoyment whilst at the same time giving back towards preserving and enriching the hosting environment and community must play an important part in the Zambezi’s future. I look forward to many more events where sports tourism meets hands-on conservation!