Nguni Trails is a small black-owned business that is part of the “Adventure Tourism Incubator” or ATI, which is a pilot project aimed at creating an effective model for skills and enterprise development, while lifting the standards of the Karkloof and Howick trail networks. The Nguni Trails team comprises Jabulani Mthalane (47), a KZN Midlands local with a warm energy, strong leadership style and 20+ years of experience in farm and garden management services, and Phumlani Radebe (24) of the Karkloof, who first cut his trail building teeth working with Hylton Turvey Trails, and then with the Karkloof Trails Club.
Jabulani and Phumlani have moved forward rapidly, securing a contract with the Karkloof Country Club to perform fulltime trail maintenance while in their initial year of training and development. Nguni Trails and the ATI are fortunate to be backed by the Industrial Development Corporation and Sappi Southern Africa Limited, while the N3 Gateway Tourism Association helped conceptualise and plan the project and is involved in its implementation.
Nguni Trails is fortunate to have the support of Devlin Fogg (from Bike Life fame) as a mentor and riding buddy. Devlin works closely with Jabulani and Phumlani as he imparts his knowledge of trail design and building and his passion for great riding. The Nguni Trails team is also receiving a full suite of training, ranging from business management through to computer literacy and functional machine operation training.
The willingness of support brands to come on board with discounted products for the team has been confidence inspiring. Massive thanks go out to Karkloof Trails, Hattons Cycles Pietermaritzburg, Stihl, Fox South Africa and Leatt. Nguni Trails proudly utilises the high-quality equipment and cycling products to perform their jobs at the highest level, with cycling of the trail network built into their weekly work plans. In fact, Jabulani and Phumlani have taken their riding to the next level, already competing in the Howick Highlander and have signed up for the 106km Amashova in October.
Mpho Lethoko, General Manager Communications, Sappi Southern Africa explained that “Outdoor communities value Sappi’s well-managed land, which provides the space for people to do the activities that they love. Since the inception of the Sappi Tails Programme in 2011 and the establishment of our event and recreational access plans, opportunities for local economic development and job creation have increasingly opened up. This forms part of Sappi’s ‘Creating Shared Value’ business objective and seeing adventure tourism bear fruit in the form of Nguni Trails right on our doorstep is rewarding on so many levels”.
Nguni Trails has started on their first brand-new trail build project, a 5km children’s and beginner loop at the Karkloof Country Club, that will be perfect for families learning to ride together and newbies to the sport.