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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Kleinemonde Eastern Cape
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    Default Gonarezhou NP & Matopos - Aug 2015

    Gonarezhou National Park & Matopos

    24 & 25th July 2015. The wife and I travel to Punda Maria where we camped for 2 nights. Nice to camp here overlooking the rather active floodlit waterhole. Enough said. Met up with the rest of our party viz. John & Viv Thome and Johann & Elmaré Kriel, the latter having travelled all the way from Windhoek. So the Cruiser brigade (60, 75 & 79) reported ready & present for all our travels.

    26th & 27th – Early start and then the 1.5 hour trip from Punda to the Mozambique Pafuri border post. It’s an easy drive with some nice animal sightings. The SA Border Post was relatively easy whilst on the Moz side, progress was (Africa time) slow, what with vehicle searches ++. Anyway no problem as my (I thought) concealed stock of alcohol was not detected. Third party insurance was handled in Johannesburg at the AA, albeit no one even asked for it.
    As John had done this trip before, he led the way to the Limpopo crossing. Needless to say we still took 1 wrong turn but soon recovered & arrived at the river where we had a “river crossing meeting”. He now has the GPS waypoints for future use. The river crossing was easy as the water levels were low, as was the trip up to the Sango Border Post.
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    Whilst only being in Moz for 4 hours, the Moz customs insisted on another scrutiny of the vehicles and contents. They soon discovered my (concealed??) stock of alcohol. “How!” he exclaims with a smile on his face, “only 1 case of beer per vehicle is allowed”. So now it was a lengthy discussion to resolve matters. I made sure that I went around the vehicle, out of sight, to pull out some money from my wallet. You don’t want to show these greedy buggers how much moola you are carrying. When a R100 note was produced, the problem disappeared. Everyone’s happy!! Cost of beer now R0.50 more. Work that out if you like!!
    Now the Zimbabwe side. We were of the opinion that this was the worst country to enter. Surprisingly, no. It was a few forms to fill in, show our Zim 3rd party token (ex the AA in Johannesburg), pay a few US dollars for I cannot remember what, and off we went into the Gonarezhou Nat Park.
    It was a short bumpy trip to our first 2 nights stay in the Park at the Mabalauta camp site. We passed our first large herd of buffalo en route. It was great to have Viv, John’s wife, with us who also happened to be our travel agent to handle all the formalities on arrival the camp offices. She and John are both very knowledgeable of this area whereby their selection of which camp sites to use, roads / tracks to travel on, where are the water points, ablutions / donkey for showers/ toilets, …, what to expect at the many river crossings, etc. proved invaluable. Thank you both.
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    The next day was short trips to the North to see 4 points with views over the Mwenezi river. A pleasant day traversing interesting tracks with animal sighting along the way as well as truly magnificent viewpoints overlooking the river.

    28th – 30th – Up early as we now had to travel from the South to the Northern part of the Park, using for the most part, sandy tracks. We chose the 1 relatively unused track up past Red Hills. Our first little challenge traversing up and down koppies, with great views. It was about at this point that I said to myself “Wow!!, I am really happy with the decision to visit Gonarezhou”. For the most part its wild and differs to the many other parks / areas of Southern Africa that I have been to.
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    Hlaro, an exclusive camp, here we come! Arriving mid afternoon, we are met with majestic views of the Chilojo Cliffs which for 3 nights was an absolute pleasure. This site has a long drop and we left John to erect a ½ star shower for the ladies.
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    We spent the next day visiting the top of the Chilojo Cliffs. The 2 vantage points reflect the beauty of this place with views of the plains and meandering river below. Occasions like this was always reason to enjoy a frosty or two.
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    The other spare time was spent driving along the river in close proximity to the camp. One reason was to locate (to no avail) the lions that we heard every evening in camp. We do our next 2 river crossings as we make a round trip from Hlaro, the Cliffs, Bopomela river crossing, Fishans Crossing and back to Hlaro. An interesting drive let alone the game sightings, river crossings, … We also pop into Chinguli camp to collect water. Nice spot that we bookmarked for a future date.
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    Be warned, the river crossings require a reliable 4x4 vehicle. Particularly the longer crossings across the very sandy river beds. We helped a few other parties that experienced problems, one with a glitch on his 4x4 selection lever and the other a novice on how to enter and cross the water.

    31st – River crossing were now becoming easy peasy. So off we go the the Gayiseni campsite at the confluence of the Save and Rundu rivers, to spend the night with Mike and Sally van Rensburg. En route, we go via the Tembwahata pan. Well worth looking at.
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    As you drive on the ever winding sandy tracks, thru the palm / treed thickets, you can expect anything. One party had just seen leopard whilst we had many scary moments with elephants. Going around a bend and coming face to face with ellies is a test of whether to stand your ground or reverse (with difficulty) and get the hell out of there. Another mandatory holdup!
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    Mike, it was great meeting you both. We left John and Viv with Mike & Sally for the next 2 nights. Mike is about to publish a book on the area with John being the Editor as well as his inputs on the area. So they had work to do.
    Furthermore, my wife Di and Johann’s wife are both not happy with this site. It’s a new site they have just completed as the old one was washed away recently in the floods. Needless to say, the grass was long, there was a hive of bees pestering us all, ++ Oops! Its my wife’s birthday, so we all have a celebratory drink and await “further instructions”.

    1st Aug – Johann and I now have a quandary of where we are going to next as we now realise that the Zim Parks oficials have double booked some of our sites. Across the Chamuluvati river crossing we go. Whilst probably the toughest & longest, we have no problems apart from the mandatory (4 bulls) roadblock that cost us over an hour.
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    On arrival at Chamuluvati camp, our worst fears are confirmed. There are campers there also with valid papers. For the record, this is a wonderful (exclusive) campsite with long drop and lovely views up and down the Runde river.
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    Down to Pokwe campsite we go via the Marhumbini Pan. Worth a visit to see the animals let alone many different bird species.
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    Pokwe is nice with river views and a long drop but we feel it is a tad too small for our 2 vehicles. So lets try Mutamagwenzi campsite. Here we meet a Park Official who confirms by radio, that this site is definitely not reserved.
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    So a decision is made to stay albeit it’s a bit wild and woody. Again on the river front. It’s not too long when a large herd of Ellies arrive sending my wife scurring back into the longdrop enclosure, Elmaré into hiding, and the boys to enjoy the experience.
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    This herd all converged at a baobab tree that they were busy destroying / devouring, then after a few trumpets at us, they moved and crossed the river. Again one of many quality experiences to enjoy.
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    2nd – Off we go to the Chitove campsite set amongst cliffs along the river. Another beautifull site. Sorry it was for only 1 night. I spent some time trying to catch a fish (for dinner). However there is too much slime in the river constantly attaching itself to my lures. This together with the many crocs and the restless hippos send me back to camp. Possibly combined by the thought of a very cold frosty as most days are hot.
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    3rd – So off we go with another 2 river crossings, with the normal river crossing team meetings and arrive at Chilo Lodge.
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    It’s a truly upmarket (5 star??) lodge on the Eastern edge of the Park. Whilst relatively expensive, they enquire whether we would like lunch, dinner and breakfast. The husbands had no option but to succumb to the 3 loud ‘yes’s’ from the ladies. Piccies tell the story.
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    That evening, on our way up a long meandering pathway, the 6 of us literally bump into an ellie feeding in the lush garden. I am not too sure who got the biggest fright, the ellie trumpeting whilst running downhill away from us or the 6 of us heading for the overhang of the thatch roof of the 1 apartment. The lodge did warn us beforehand of 2 resident ellies but we all had forgotten.
    Well done Viv! You insisted that the girls had to have a treat midway.

    4th & 5th - It’s a bit of a slog to Chipinda Pools, our next campsite. So we have an early breakfast and leave (girls – reluctantly) for our next destination. En route we have lunch at the Chilojo campsite / picnic sites.
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    This was the only part of the trip I was not looking forward to as Chipinda Pools is the major control centre for the Park, it has tented camps, rondavels, a large campsite – simply too busy. Again I am suitably impressed as the campsite is again on the river and far away from everything else.
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    I enjoy a long walk along the river (pools, rocks, ellies + hippos all over) whilst John goes off to find petrol. A relaxing off day.
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    6th & 7th – Its another shortish but time consuming trip from the North to the South of the Park incorporating tracks that go past 2 of the pans. Whilst dry, there was always game to be seen. The hardly used tracks are now becoming fun rather than the badly corrugated main dirt roads. Swimuwini is Di and my last stop before leaving on our travels to the CKGR. Our party are booked into 3 scantily furnished chalets overlooking the Mwenezi River. Again we spot herds of ellies and a herd of buffalo as they go to the river to drink.
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    The next day is a game drive incorporating some view sites to the South. The only downer with Gonorezhou was the 20 rifle shots we heard during the day in this area. The Park is surrounded by Communal Land(s) / Trust(s) which are clearly hunting concession areas.
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    On our last night, after another good meal, we say our goodbye’s to the rest of our party. This dinner proved no different to the others with John (always) wanting to trade some of our dinner for some of his – “Rob, how about some fried fish, … for some of my ….”. John, it was fun.

    8th – It’s one of the 3 days we used to travel across to the CKGR. So it’s a long schlep over badly corrugated roads with many wash aways en route to Bulawayo. It’s a 10 hour day as we check into our small but neat rondavel at the Matopos National Park.
    “Magniicent” is the only way to describe this Park. Whilst there is minimal game, the mountains, or rather I should say the monster boulders, are a sight to see. Highly recommended. We also traversed the whole park as we took a rarely used exit point past the dam, en route directly to Figtree.
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    The rest of my trip to Nxai Pans and CKGR is filed under the Botswana trip reports section. Enjoy!
    Last edited by wybrowr; 2015/08/29 at 02:02 PM. Reason: It s/b under Zimbabwe TR's

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Thanked: 1920

    Default Gonarezhou and Matopos

    Hi Rob
    Hope you and Di are having a good trip, No more double bookings and Ele's in the camp. It was great meeting up with you both.

    Thanks for a great trip report. Should be posted under Zimbabwe and not West Africa though. See if you can repost under Zimbabwe.

    Some great photos to add to the memory bank - Well done.

    We also enjoyed our trip thoroughly. I see you enjoyed the Save River crossing.

    Keep in touch
    Last edited by MikevR; 2015/08/29 at 12:29 PM.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Kleinemonde Eastern Cape
    Thanked: 0


    Hi Mike, yes I read your TR as well. Great times. Do you have any idea how to transfer this to the Zim section. I can only imagine that I had finger trouble. Regards

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Kleinemonde Eastern Cape
    Thanked: 0


    I have now reposted this to the Zim section. Modmins, you can delete this from the W Africa section. Tks

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