The Matopos Heritage Ride”

8th to 12th March 2017



Greetings from the Matobo Hills – 1st February 2017

Yebo Abatshovi beBhayisikili



Our entries were 100% full an hour after opening to the public.  Thank-you all for your support


For queries about any of the items below, contact one of the organising committee on numbers listed at the end of this newsletter.  You can also refer to our facebook page “Matopos Heritage MTB Challenge” or the Matobo Conservation Society web site, or more specifically to which contains pictures from last year and a host of other information


Registration will be from 14:00hrs to 17:00hrs and the briefing will be on Wednesday 8th March at 18:00hrs near the tennis court at MALEME REST CAMP in the Matobo National Park.  Please allow approximately one hour travel time from Bulawayo to Maleme and ten to fifteen minutes at the National Parks gate.  Please try to be punctual, as the initial briefing will provide crucial information for both riders and team seconds


All competitors and seconds have to pay entry/conservation fees to the Matobo National Park at the Sandy Spruit gate.  These fees are specifically excluded from the event entry fees because of the different rates for local, regional (SADC countries) and international (non SADC).  National Parks have recently increased these fees, so please note the new fees below.  These fees are per day, however there is a 50% discount for visitors who are accommodated overnight in the park (i.e.  either camping or in Maleme rest camp) so the amounts below are the total fee for the two days that the event will be in the National Park

Vehicles (extra fee for trailers at same rate) US $4.00 US $12.00 US $15.00
Park entrance fees per person > 12 yrs US $4.00 US $12.00 US $15.00
Park entrance fees per person 6- 12 yrs US $2.00 US $6.00 US $7.50
Park entrance fees per person < 16 yrs free free free

There is also a 50% reduction to $2.00 for Zimbabwean pensioners (over 60), this does not apply to vehicles or to regional or international pensioners


The GPS Routes for this year have NOT YET been finalised.  It has been very wet so far this summer, and we expect more rains which may affect the final route.  The GPS routes will be emailed to all registered riders in early March.  Each day entails some portage, but no special footwear is required for this

We will be making some modifications to last year’s route on each day, with a complete overhaul of day one, which will now start at Maleme.  The compulsory stops will be retained, one per day.  PLEASE REMEMBER THAT A GPS IS REQUIRED BY EACH RIDER AND YOU MUST BE ABLE TO OPERATE IT


Arrangements with Matobo National Park have been concluded, and our principal sponsors, namely Stanbic Bank and Satib Insurance, have confirmed their participation.  We also welcome Halsted Builders Express as a new Gold Class Sponsor.  Added to this is a host of other smaller sponsors, which shows the ongoing support for this event


As in the past, each cyclist will be provided with an event cycle shirt.  These have been ordered based on chest measurements and sleeve lengths from entry forms, and we are not responsible for fitting.  The default shirt colour is GREEN, with special BLUE shirts awarded to riders in their fifth (or later) year of doing this event.  The prize giving will include the award of the RED jerseys for the winning team, and the WHITE jersey (based on votes from riders) to the individual who best represents the sportsmanship and spirit of the event.  This jersey has been kindly donated by Panda Sports

We however recommend that you bring three cycle shirts with you


Units will be allocated ahead of the race, with allocations being done for teams on points awarded for (a) event service, (b) event loyalty and (c) early payments.  There will be a check-in desk at Maleme to welcome you, confirm your entry and advise on accommodation allocations.  ALL participants will be required to sign an indemnity form at the event check-in desk

As in prior years, there will also be a tented village at Maleme Rest Camp.  For large groups there will be a tent located with a lodge, to share the lodge bathroom.  Our camp team will erect and remove the tents, and the tents will be supplied with a mattress, BUT YOU ARE REQUIRED TO PROVIDE YOUR OWN BEDDING.  It is also suggested that you bring a roll mat and folding chair for your comfort after each day’s ride

For those with families or friends in attendance, we are only allowed to pitch tents within the Maleme Rest Camp for event competitors.  Other guests will have to camp at Maleme Dam.  These accommodation arrangements can be made on the day for non-team members at Maleme Rest Camp.  However, please note that there will be no extra meals available for guests who do not self-cater, unless these are ordered and paid by 1st March, 2017


At Camp Dwala riders will be accommodated in a tent.  If you intend to bring your own tent for this purpose, please let us know so that we can allocate space for you at the site.  Whilst you are required to bring your bedding for the tents, we recommend that you also include a sheet to cover the mattress

We are unable to accommodate extra’s at Camp Dwala, unless arrangements have been made in advance.  There will be no extra meals available for guests unless these are ordered and paid for by 1 March 2017

Zindele Safaris and Morning Star have offered alternative accommodation, as per the details included in the entry form


As space in the race villages is very limited, please let us know as soon as possible if you plan to stay in alternative accommodation


Zimbabwe has been experiencing load shedding.  Maleme has however enjoyed better supply of late, but we cannot promise this will continue given the heavy rains and storms recently experienced.  Camp Dwala is not serviced by power.  So please bring enough torches, head-lights and lanterns.  Also bring power-banks for re-charging GPS and phone


New participants may or may not know that this event has two separate sides.  The first side is in the Western Matopos with accommodation at Maleme Rest Camp on Wednesday and Thursday nights.  The second side is in the Eastern Matopos with accommodation at Camp Dwala on Friday and Saturday nights.  The riders do the transition from the West to the East on their bikes.  This means that they need to make prior arrangements to have their vehicles and kit moved, unless there is a team second to do this.  The organising committee will bring drivers out to Maleme on Friday to move vehicles, and will be a separate cost of $50 per vehicle. The transfer of vehicles and kit is at the owner’s risk


If you have not already reserved a driver for the Friday transfer please do so immediately as we cannot arrange this after 1 March.  Transfers will be at your own risk


All our meals will be served at Maleme Rest Camp, in the tennis court area, and at Camp Dwala in the communal dining area.  The meals for riders and team seconds will include:

  • Breakfasts from Thursday, through to Sunday
  • Light Lunches from Thursday to Saturday
  • Dinners from Wednesday to Saturday, with a special “more formal than normal” dinner after the prize giving on Saturday. Competitors may like to bring a bottle of their favourite wine or other drinks to enjoy with their dinner and must let us know if anyone will be joining them as it will be a sit down dinner with a seating plan.  The dinner will cost $25 for any outsiders
  • Water Points (two per race day)
  • Extra drinks and snacks will be provided at the end of each stage, and a cash bar will be available each day

Meals will only be served to those wearing the event “bangle”, so please put this on when you arrive and keep it on throughout the event.  These are waterproof so will withstand showers.  Please note that riders are responsible for their recovery drinks and any special needs.  Visitors should bring all necessary special food and drink supplements with them, as these will not be available during the event.  Those wanting a special or vegetarian menu (which has been provided for) must advise the organisers at least 14 days before the event.  Regretfully given the logistics involved, we cannot make last minute changes to the menu


Our caterers were extremely concerned about the number of “extras” that were fed in 2016, and have recommended that this is more tightly controlled this year, to avoid the possibility of food running out before all the riders have been fed

If you are planning to have friends or family join you at any stage during the event, please pre-book BY 1 MARCH and make arrangements to pre-pay for their meals, by emailing the Secretary on

Breakfast                                US $15

Lunch                                      US $15

Wed/Thurs/Fri Dinner             US $20

Sat Dinner                               US $25


Our race director advised that in earlier events, some-day visitors who arrived for the prize-giving, parked their vehicles blocking the cycle route.  This is a potential hazard for the riders, and we urge you to advise your family and friends to park only in designated vehicle parking areas, and to follow instructions on parking.


Riders entering for a single day will not be permitted in 2017


NOTE – There have been some major modifications to the route used last year, which we are sure enhances your experience.  So please ensure that in due course you download the 2017 route onto your GPS!  A final recce may result in some modification before the race, so the routes will not be available for download before 1st March

Day One (starting & ending at Maleme).  This route is about 78km’s in length, and is completely new, though we were able to retain some of the favourite parts of the track from 2016.  Allow 5-8 hours.  The start is at Maleme Rest Camp, thereafter into the Maleme valley and west towards Njelele.  There is some sweeping single track through the Terminalia forest, and some good technical riding as well, but there is a portage out of the Tendele valley.  We hope that the section in the Game Park will be more adventurous than last year when little game was seen.  The hardest part of route is the ascent to Ntswatugi – uphill, sandy and very steep at the end, a climb of 80m.  Just after this climb riders will proceed to Ntswatugi Cave where there is a compulsory stop, and visit to the famous cave.  Thereafter there is a sharp climb out of the Maleme valley (40m) up to the finish line at Maleme Rest Camp.  The first water point is at about the 43km stage, and a second at the 63km point in the Game Park, with a final water-only point at Ntswatugi Cave.

Day Two (starting at Maleme & ending at Camp Dwala).  The route is about 61km’s.  Allow 6 – 9 hrs.  The first half is deceptive – a good single track start, followed by a great off-road section and some open dirt tracks to just before the Tuli River.  After the Tuli we turn north, and we climb from the lowest part of the route (and World Heritage Site) to the roof of the hills at Mwazi in three tough steps, approximately a 500m climb within 15 km’s.  The first step involves a little portage followed by the first water point.  The next step sees us climb out of the Nendeleki valley before we tackle Dananombe, a steep dwala ascent – some will cycle, and some will push.  There is a water point at Dopi School.  The last climb of the day is up Mwazi, but we will not be going over the summit this year.  Burbling streams will be found along these sections of the ride, and we defy you to resist the temptation to stop and swim!  Distressed riders will be able to exit after the first climb, at about 40km.  There is one compulsory stop on this day of 15 minutes duration at the first water point, in the Mazhowe valley, (so pack a costume as there is enough time to have a dip in the waterfall and pool – river conditions permitting)

Day Three (starting & ending at Camp Dwala).  The route is 72km’s.  Expect 7 – 10 hrs.  The route takes you down to the Mtshabezi River– a few small sections of portage may be necessary on this part.  Then across the mouth of the Mtshabezi Gorge for a short way and a climb out under the canopy of the Brachystegia glouscesans.  The route requires only one small portage, then onto Shale school (and an unmanned water point), a steady climb takes you to Tshingengoma, a 350m climb from the gorge, and spectacular views await you.  There is a steep dwala descent that requires care, and then down to Diana’s Pool.  (NB This section may be varied due to weather conditions and you will be advised at the previous night’s briefing).  Thereafter the track changes radically, and we turn north, then west to reach Rhodes Indaba Site (with the first water point), a climb out past Bembi, and then another great sweeping single track through the forest.  Easy riding to the Mtshabezi valley, then steady climbs and then the last big dwala ascent up Gorfinga.  An easy 5km’s to the finish.  There is a second water point on the return leg of the ride at the Upper Mtshabezi Dam

General.  No special footwear is required for the portage stages, but you will need plenty of liquid if we have warm or humid days.  A GPS is absolutely critical.  The route can be down-loaded from the web-site in due course (recommended) or loaded with the route at the race briefing.  Please ensure a back-up machine per team and plenty of batteries!  There is a lot of single track which does not appear on any maps.  THERE WILL ALSO BE A FACILITY AT MALEME TO DOWNLOAD THE ROUTE ONTO YOUR GPS.  PLEASE DON’T FORGET TO BRING ANY NECESSARY CONNECTION / USB CABLES


The last day will start and end at Camp Dwala.  We hope that you will all be staying to share your stories and experiences with new friends gained over the previous three days as we don’t want you driving at night.  Breakfast on Sunday is included in your entry fee

The final dinner will be a slightly more formal affair with pre-arranged seating.  For this reason we cannot accept late requests


We welcome cyclists from outside Zimbabwe.  For your information, the Zimbabwe Tourist Authority (ZTA) and the Customs authority Zimra have assured us that visitors entering Zimbabwe will be assisted

VISAS.  Please check well in advance if you need a VISA to enter Zimbabwe.  For most countries, these can be obtained on arrival, but you must have sufficient US dollars cash.  RSA Passport holders obtain a free visa on entry, but you must confirm this position

ROAD TRAVEL.  As the event is mid-week, mid-month, and if you cross mid-morning, you should not have any unnecessary delays, but be prepared with some drinks and snacks.  Please ensure that your vehicle has:

  • Honeycomb or diamond grade WHITE reflectors in the front
  • Honeycomb or diamond grade RED reflectors in the rear
  • Both the Net vehicle mass (NVM) and Gross vehicle mass (GVM) displayed if it is a truck or SUV
  • Two sets of warning triangles
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A reflective road jacket
  • A spare wheel and jack


ROAD BLOCKS.  Please be prepared for frequent delays due to police road blocks.  Try to maintain a calm friendly attitude, and avoid paying unnecessary fines, as this fuels corruption

BORDER FORMALITIES.  We have had foreign visitors in each of the previous editions of the race and there have been no problems, other than queues, encountered at the various borders:

  • Beitbridge.  Visitors will be assisted by Zimra to avoid unnecessary delays.  For border-assistance letters, we will require full name, passport details, vehicle registration number and date of arrival.  From Beitbridge to Bulawayo is 320km, so allow about 3 hours, but if you are traveling on the 9th we suggest crossing the Bridge before 9am
  • Plumtree – We will endeavour to assist where possible.  Plumtree to Bulawayo is 120km, so allow about 1 hour’s travel
  • Bulawayo – Visitors flying to Bulawayo will be assisted by Zimra at the JM Nkomo Airport.  Please advise us in good time of name, passport number and flight details if you want us to assist.  For those flying into Bulawayo, please note that you are required to book your bike onto the flight at least three days before the intended date of travel.  In order to avoid any airport hassles, or any disappointment, please attend to this

CASH.  There are severe shortages of bank notes in Zimbabwe, and daily withdrawals are restricted both in banking halls and ATM’s.  It may not be possible for foreign account holders to withdraw cash from ATM’s.  Foreign visitors are advised to bring enough cash (preferably US dollars, and in small denominations) for their visit, and to declare the cash on entry to Zimbabwe, so that it may be re-exported. You may be offered “Bond Notes/Coins” as change – this is perfectly legal, but they cannot be used outside Zimbabwe.

Please note that entry fees payable at National Parks in Zimbabwe are higher for SADC and International visitors and that an ID is required


  • The Matopos is a non-Malaria area, but preventative medication is essential if you intend to travel to the Victoria Falls or other lowveld areas of Zimbabwe, before or after the ride
  • We recommend that you bring anti-mozzie spray, and if possible, anti-tick spray as we will ride through long grass
  • Sun cream is essential, both during and after the ride
  • Ensure that you have sufficient recovery drink, rehydrate and salt tablets (for cramp)
  • Also check that you have any personal medication in adequate quantities, and that your “buddie” is aware of any special conditions that you may have
  • Travel with a valid Medical Aid card and any allergy alerts


  • There will be no medical team following up, as many parts of the route are inaccessible to vehicles
  • There will be stretchers at water points, to enable uninjured riders to carry injured colleagues to the nearest road
  • There will be first aid kits at the water points
  • A qualified first aider will be available at the end of each day’s route, to treat any minor injuries
  • Any medical costs, including evacuations, are for the competitors account and not the organisers


It is very different to the events in other countries, so please consider the following points:

  • It is far more technical than what is usually expected, and there are portage sections of more than 30min
  • There are no backup or sweep vehicles on the route.  Accordingly, entrants must be fully self-sufficient in terms of spares and maintenance
  • There are no medical facilities en route, and rescue would be slow
  • Competitors MUST carry extra water, and should refill at water points
  • The route is so isolated that you cannot rely on your seconds
  • Whilst cell / mobile phones are essential equipment, signal is limited over most of the route
  • Tubeless tires are essential (lots in SA still ride tubes and they won’t last 5min with the Matopos thorn trees!)
  • Sunglasses are essential for eye protection.  Riders from outside Zimbabwe don’t generally have the long grass / thorn trees that are found in the Matopos
  • Please ensure that your brake pads are in good order.   There are some serious descents, and the general terrain of the hills will cause excess wear and tear on your brake pads, especially if we encounter a wet period
  • It is essential that you know how to use your GPS

Treat this event as an adventure, and be prepared!

REGULATIONS / CONDITIONS (As advised on the entry form)

  • Solo riders are not accepted.  Riders under 16 years are not accepted
  • Teams must comprise 2 or 3 riders.  Larger groups may ride together but teams must be split up in advance
  • Teams have to stay together and members ride within 1 minute of each other.  Checkpoints will be enforced
  • Each team must have a second or driver.  Please contact the Organising Committee if your team requires, and is willing to pay for, a service provider for seconding
  • The last person to cross the finish line in each team will determine the overall time of that team
  • To obtain an event placing, at least two members of that team must complete the whole event
  • All competitors and seconds/drivers must attend daily briefings
  • All competitors must follow the route on their GPS.  No deviations allowed
  • The entry/indemnity form must be signed and handed in to the organisers upon registration
  • There will be no medical team following up.  Please note that any medical costs, including evacuations, are for the competitors account and not the organisers
  • Helmets are compulsory
  • Competitors must carry extra water & snacks on the ride
  • All teams will conduct themselves in a sportsmanship like manner throughout the event
  • The organisers reserve the right at their discretion to disqualify, bar or refuse participation of any competitor at any time during the event

COMPULSORY KIT FOR EACH RIDER (As advised on the entry form)

The Event Director reserves the right to conduct spot checks and to disallow any rider from starting, or continuing, without the required essentials, which are:

  • Mountain Bike in roadworthy condition
  • Helmet.  No helmet no ride
  • GPS (Garmin preferred) with route loaded.  There are NO markings along the route, a GPS is essential
  • Spare batteries or power-bank for GPS to last the entire challenge as charging facilities are limited
  • Cell phone, fully charged and with air time.  Please note there is limited cell phone network coverage in the Matobo Hills.  Ask local people where the nearest signal is
  • Repair Kit to include: tyre pump, tubes, puncture repair kit, chain break, and quick links, spare hanger, multi-tool, tyre levers.  Tubeless tyres are highly recommended
  • Whistle
  • Water, minimum of a litre per hour, subject to water points.  Recommend camel-back or two 750ml bottles of energy drink or water
  • Sufficient specialised food on the ride.  There will be some food at the main water points
  • ID card, Medical Aid card and some cash, US$10 (for emergency transport)
  • First Aid Kit consisting of foil survival blanket, three (3) wound dressings, plasters, anti-inflammatory tablets, pain relief tablets, tweezers
  • Towel and Bedding (e.g.  Pillow and sleeping bag).  Tents and Mattresses will be provided
  • Recommended extra kit: Sun block, mosquito repellent, folding chair
  • Optional kit: Camera or helmet-cam


  1. It is no longer mandatory for teams to have seconds
  2. Teams MAY have a second or driver to back them up and
    1. To collect riders and bikes who cannot complete any section, as water-points do not have facilities for carrying broken bikes or riders unable to continue
    2. To drive vehicles and take personal belongings of riders from Maleme to Camp Dwala on Friday
  3. The second or driver is a key member of the team
  4. Seconds will only be able to support teams on the parts of the event accessible to vehicles, but will be able to enjoy some great scenery as they drive to the support points
  5. Seconds/drivers should attend all event briefings, so that they can hear about the road routes to the support points
  6. Seconds/drivers should proceed to support points, and wait there until their teams pass
  7. Seconds/drivers ravelling to Camp Dwala after 10:00am may not be allowed access if the front riders are approaching
  8. Vehicles need to have really good clearance as the roads to the start and to the support points are very rural
  9. Teams may share seconds as long as they have enough space on their carriers for all the bikes of the joint teams
  10. The fee for seconds includes event village accommodation and meals, but excludes the cycle shirt and water points
  11. The fee for drivers includes staff meals but excludes event village accommodation
  12. Seconds should be included on their team’s entry form. We cannot make late arrangements so please ensure that your full team is correctly entered
  13. Teams who do not have seconds or drivers should contact the Organising Committee to make arrangements to move their vehicles and kit from Maleme to Camp Dwala. There will be an extra cost of $50 per vehicle for this service


We have enjoyed a wonderful rainy season in the hills, with our annual average reached in just two months!  This means that the ride this year, will be wet and muddy, so prepare accordingly.  It may well be humid so ensure you have enough liquids.  We reserve the right to start the ride earlier each morning if conditions so dictate

In the event of rain during the race period, the organisers reserve the right to vary the course due to safety considerations, or to impose certain restrictions.  The wet rock is very slippery and can be dangerous on the steep descents when wet


The route has been carefully selected to incorporate many features of, and places of special interest within, the Matobo Hills.  We have been given permission to cycle through the Matobo Game Park, home to Zimbabwe’s largest rhino population!  The route also goes through the Matobo National Park and it gives you some great cycling.  Large sections are off road and in the “outback”


The race will be run with a strong emphasis on team spirit, and support for your fellow riders.  Any cyclist needing help should be able to rely on the support of any of the competitors


Please note that once an entry has been submitted, orders are placed and details are forwarded to National Parks and therefore there are no refunds for cancellations.  Substitute riders are however permitted, on submission of entry forms, but will receive the cycle jersey ordered for the original entry.  Please send notification of substitutions as soon as possible


Gavin              +263 772 221 223

Jean                +263 772 168 136

Des                  +263 772 211 156

Adele               +263 712 366 917

Gaynor            +263 712 402 341

Fozzie              +263 712 208 142

Darryl              +263 772 177 033

Susan              +263 772 126 549




Wed Site:   


Shala Kahle      Hope your training is going well !!!