Hwange National Park was founded in 1929 and encompasses over 14 000 square kilometers. The north and north-west of the park are drained by the Deka and Lukosi rivers and their tributaries, and the far south of the park is drained by the Gwabadzabuya River, a tributary of the Nata River.
There are no rivers in the rest of the park, although there are fossil drainage channels in the main camp and Linkwasha areas, which form seasonal wetlands. In these areas without rivers, grassy pan depressions and pans have formed.
Some of these pans, such as many of the pans in the Shumba area, fill with rainwater, while others, such as Ngweshla, Shakwanki, and Nehimba, are fed by natural groundwater seeps.
Many of the pans are additionally supplied by water pumped from underground boreholes.
In 2008, Colin Gillies of Wildlife Environment Zimbabwe approached the National Parks of Zimbabwe and suggested a 2 day 100 kilometer Mountain Bike Ride through Hwange to raise funds to supplement the cost of pumping water in Hwange National Park as National Parks Department had limited funds and resources to maintain the engines and pumps.
The recent poor rains had forced most of the game to concentrate around the available water holes and any breakdowns with the engines or pumps created more demand on the remaining water resources.
So in July 2008 a mixture of 28 old and young, new and experienced mountain bikers set off from Main Camp to Guvalala for day one of the ride. Day two saw us return along the Tshebe loop road.
Pumping Legs For Water
11 years later as Pumping Legs for Water, we have averaged 180 cyclists over the last few years with this last year’s entrants reaching over 200 from as far as the UK to the staff at Main Camp and most countries in between.
We emphasize to all new participants that this is a ride, not a race and we encourage family participation.
The cyclists are “seeded” into groups according to their pace and fitness with a team captain. This group is then escorted by a lead vehicle with an armed National Parks scout and followed by a backup truck.
The logistics of the ride are handled by a small organizing committee of 5 and a large group of volunteers on the actual weekend.
Besides basic entry fee, we encourage all the participants to raise as much money as possible with awards going to the top three fundraisers.
What We Raise The Funds For
The money raised each year is administered by Wildlife Environment Zimbabwe for use in maintaining and developing water sources in Hwange National Park.
There are strict checks on where the money is used and all fuel and spares are supervised by Gary Cantle who assists National Parks.