Mana and Masoka, Nov/Dec 2013
It has been 3 years since our last visit to Zim and the lure of the Zambezi is starting to take hold again. This time SWAMBO and I are targeting Mana Pools, Masoka Village and Seldom Seen in late November until early December in what is primarily a birding trip. A night or two in Harare for chasing rallids at the vleis and a day at Lion and Elephant looking for Boulder Chat is also on the cards. We have already confirmed our stay in Masoka Village during the first week of December with Mackenzie Zirota and are now starting to plan around that. The reason for basing everything around Masoka is that the prime target for this holiday is African Pitta (which starts calling around Masoko Village in late November) plus a few other Zambezi valley and Miombo specials found in the area such as Lillian's Lovebird, Livingstone's Flycatcher and Western Banded Snake-Eagle. We also want to miss the holiday rush and most of any early rains that fall - we travel solo (in a Landy and off-road trailer) and don't want to be caught out in a mud hole (or worse) with little prospect of help. This suggests we should try and get Seldom Seen and Mana in before we move on to Masoka. The best route for this seems be via Beit Bridge - Masvingo - Mutare (for Seldom Seen) then on to Harare followed by Mana Pools followed by Masoka and fitting Lion and Elephant in on the way back to RSA. However, passing through Beit Bridge going north isn't that appealing and the alternative is Martin's Drift - Francistown - Plumtree - Bulawayo - Masvingo - Mutare. Although this route seems much longer, it has the advantage of the opportunity of stocking the freezer at the Blue Bull Butchery in Bulawayo.
A few questions for the fundis:
How bad is Beit Bridge going north and what should we be watching out for (best time, procedures etc) ?
What is the alternative butchery going via Biet Bridge ?
What route would you recommend (and why) ?
In the meantime, SWAMBO has to find who our local Avon lady is.
2006 Defender KE 300 TDi (aka Hari), previously 2003 TD5 90 (aka Steri) and 1994 TDi HiLine 200 TDi (aka Big Blue).
Afrispoor Serval off-road caravan (aka ORC).