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The Kingdom of Eswatini

The Imvelo MTB Classic: More Than Just a Race

‘Imvelo’, simply means ‘Nature’ in SiSwati. The name pays homage to a passion for both people and wildlife, the conservation of Eswatini’s cultural and natural heritage, the innovation and adventurous spirit underpinning Big Game Parks’ (BGP) core brand values. Nestled amidst the stunning mountains of Eswatini, the annual Nedbank Imvelo MTB Classic is more than just a mountain bike race. It’s a thrilling adventure that integrates seamlessly with Eswatini’s tourism offerings, attracting cyclists and adventure enthusiasts from around the globe. This year’s event is set to go ahead on Saturday 8 June 2024.

A Legacy of Nature and Challenge

The race, formerly known as the Ngulube MTB Classic, boasts a rich history dating back to 2000, making it the oldest mountain bike race in Eswatini. Organised by Big Game Parks and proudly sponsored by Nedbank, the event has grown into a premier sporting event, attracting both competitive cyclists and recreational riders.

Aims of Nedbank Eswatini’s Imvelo MTB Classic

  • To become Eswatini’s MTB event of the year by being an efficient, well-organised fun event with the highest ethical standards.
  • To raise funds for the community and conservation projects link to Big Game Parks.
  • To showcase Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary as a wonderful outdoor destination for families.
  • To promote and instill greater appreciation for and awareness of conservation.
  • To increase the recreational value of conservation areas in Eswatini for the people.
  • To enhance awareness of Big Game Parks as a contributing organisation to Eswatini’s society.
  • To enhance, entrench and grow mountain biking as a sport in Eswatini.
  • To enhance awareness of Eswatini within the regional adventure market.

Community projects supported by Imvelo are focused on Mlilwane’s neighbouring communities. Over the years Big Game Parks have assisted rural schools with water supply, clean-up campaigns, painting, maintenance of floors and buildings and office equipment. A huge spring-water project was completed in 2013, benefiting the entire Hlabazonkhe Community. This project has been extended in recent years.

Diverse Routes for All Skill Levels

The Imvelo offers a variety of routes catering to various skill levels. The challenging 65km Classic course pushes seasoned riders to their limits, while the shorter 35km Challenge and 22km Family routes provide a thrilling yet accessible experience for less experienced cyclists. For the youngest participants, the 12.5km Hoglet course allows them to join the excitement on a safe and fun route.

Beyond the Finish Line: Exploring Eswatini’s Wonders

The Imvelo is not just about the race itself. It serves as a gateway to exploring the captivating beauty of Eswatini. Here is how the event integrates with Eswatini’s tourism offerings:

  • Mlilwane Sanctuary: A Picturesque Setting Held at the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, the race-course winds through breathtaking scenery. Participants encounter diverse wildlife, from antelope and zebras to a variety of bird species, creating a unique race experience amidst nature.
  • Post-Race Relaxation After the race, participants can unwind at Mlilwane’s comfortable accommodations, from luxurious lodges to cosy campsites. This allows them to extend their stay and explore the sanctuary’s hiking trails, game drives, and cultural experiences.
  • Cultural Immersion Mlilwane offers a glimpse into Swazi culture. Cyclists can visit a traditional Swazi village, learn about Swazi crafts and even witness a traditional dance performance. This cultural immersion enriches the overall experience, allowing visitors to connect with the heart and soul of Eswatini.
  • Gateway to Adventure- Eswatini offers a plethora of adventure activities beyond cycling. The Imvelo serves as a starting point for an unforgettable adventure vacation in Eswatini.

Sustainability in Action

The Imvelo prioritises sustainable practices, aligning perfectly with Eswatini’s commitment to eco-tourism. The 500 capped number of participants ensures minimal environmental impact. Additionally, the race organizers actively promote responsible waste management and encourage participants to respect the natural environment.

A Win-Win for All

The Nedbank Imvelo MTB Classic benefits all stakeholders:

  • Cyclists: Participants get to challenge themselves on a scenic and well-organised course, fostering a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie.
  • Eswatini Tourism: The event attracts international visitors, boosting tourism revenue and showcasing Eswatini’s beauty to a global audience.
  • Local Economy: The Imvelo creates economic opportunities for local businesses, from accommodation providers to restaurants and craft vendors.
  • Conservation Efforts: A portion of the race proceeds are used to support conservation efforts within Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, protecting Eswatini’s rich biodiversity.

The Imvelo MTB Classic: More Than Just a Race

The Nedbank Imvelo MTB Classic is a testament to Eswatini’s potential as a premier adventure tourism destination. It seamlessly combines a challenging race with the opportunity to explore breathtaking landscapes, immerse oneself in vibrant culture and experience the warmth of Swazi hospitality. Whether you are a seasoned cyclist or simply seeking an adventure vacation, the Imvelo MTB Classic offers a unique and unforgettable experience in the heart of the Kingdom.

Participating in the Imvelo MTB Classic

For more information about participating in the Nedbank Imvelo MTB Classic, including registration details, race categories, and travel arrangements, visit the Big Game Parks website or contact them directly at imvelo@biggameparks.org.