MediaRelease: Gonarezhou Zimbabwe June 2019





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  1. #1
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    Default Gonarezhou Zimbabwe June 2019

    Gonarezhou 4x4 Trip June 2019
    video of our trip
    Sunday 9 June 2019 Day 1: Left Johannesburg at 0800. Two Toyota Prados—2 couples in my white vehicle and one couple in the silver Prado. Went up the N1 entered Kruger at the Pafuri gate and booked into Mockford House which is a large house right at the Pafuri border gate into Mozmbique. The idea was the next morning we would cross the border cross the Limpopo at Pafuri and do the 61 km track to the Sango/Chicualacuala border into Gonazerhou.

    Monday 10 th June 2019 Day 2: Got up bright and early but when Andy started his Prado it did not sound good. After a half an hour of examining the engine we realized the engine mountings were broken and we were not going anywhere soon. After much discussion we arranged for the car to be towed to Toyota Louis Trichhardt. We would miss the first night in Gonarezhou which was meant to be at Swimuwini chalets. The tow vehicle arrived at 1530. Andy and Catrin went back to Louis Trichardt with their vehicle. We went to Musina to a bed and breakfast.
    Tuesday 11 June day 3:
    Andy and Catrin—Toyota were great but prognosis was bad. The chassis had snapped at the engine mountings. Toyota got it to a body shop and 4 welders worked the whole day and had the car ready by 1700. Andy was not happy to take it into severe conditions so they drove back to Jhb and hired a Toyota Hilux from Britz—great vehicle good service and reasonable.
    Meantime Bryan Pam Steve and Lynn proceeded through Beit Bridge to enter the northern gate of Gonarezhou at Chipinda pools. Beit Bridge took 1.5 hours was not nearly as bad as we thought although we were harassed by Frank from “tourism” on the Zim side. He nearly took me for a few bucks but one of the officials whispered into Pam’s ear and we got rid of him. The Zim officials are great but I get the impression they are intimidated by the “unofficial helpers”
    This what is required:
    Valid passport of the driver.Certified copy of vehicle registration papers in the name of the driver.Letter of authority from the registered owner if the vehicle is not owned by the driver
    If vehicle is still being financed, carry a letter of authority from the bank (must include dates of travel) together with the vehicle license papers.
    Police Clearance Certificate: May be required if travelling through the Chirundu Border Post, for vehicles and trailers. When applying for Police Clearance certificate, it is required to have a Request for Police Identification/ Clearance (RPC) Form obtainable from the Traffic Department.
    Commercial Vehicle Guarantee (CVG): Private vehicles do not require a CVG ( 4X4 may be require to obtain a CVG ). Only applicable for Commercial vehicles. Obtainable from
    Zimbabwe registered clearing agents and payment of relevant bond - between USD 30 to USD 50.
    Third-Party Insurance: Compulsory - obtained at border post.
    Road Access Fee: Based on the vehicle's size paid on entry only. Rates:
    R90 for a small sedan
    R270 for a large 4x4
    Exit Pass: R70 at each exit
    Carbon Tax: charges from R50 to R240
    White and Red Honeycomb Reflective Tape: Two small white rectangular size strips on the right and left hand side of the front bumper as well as two small red square strips on the right and left hand side of the rear bumper. Ideally, the strips should be honeycombed. If towing a trailer, two small red square strips on the right and left hand side of the rear bumper are required
    Carnet de Passage: Not required. Temporary Import Permit will be issued at the border post upon entry, free of charge
    Warning Triangles: Two warning triangles on a metal plate
    White and Red T-sign: Required if towing a trailer; white must be displayed on front right hand side of trailer / caravan and red on the rear right hand side of the trailer / caravan, when looking forward.
    Fire Extinguisher: Compulsory
    Safety Vests: Recommended


    By 1100 am we left Beit Bridge and went up the A4 and A10 to Chiredzi—roads pretty good but deserted. They are narrow but no significant pot-holes. We went through two tolls (US$2 or R30) and about 4 police blocks all were polite and did not try to elicit bribes. Asked for driver licences (Steve showed his UK one) and the insurance proof that is compulsory to buy at the border. The border crossing cost about R750.00 we paid in Rands. At Chiredzi there looked like a 2 hour queue for fuel. We flashed some cash US Dollars and it took. About half an hour for fuel. Managwa has since stopped US dollars and Rands now.
    We arrived at Chipinda pools gate at 1545. The turnoff is 16 km past Chiredzi and then along a very good sand road for 38 km to the Chipinda Pools entrance. You can travel this road at 80km per hour. Took 1.5 (40km)hours from the entrance to the beautiful Chilojo 1 camp below the cliffs and we pitched tents as it was getting dark. There were campers at Chilojo 2 on the first night but the next three it was empty and we were alone. The camp is pristine with a clean long drop no water or any other facilities. The view of Chilojo cliffs is stunning. We stayed there 4 days and went on short game drives because as it turned out we would get no more fuel until we entered Mozambique through the Sango border. A parade of animals passed our camp --Elephant Baboons, water buck Impala, hyena etc and the bird life around the camp was good. In particular there was a plethora of bee-eaters.. At night we could hear nearby lion roaring—very close and virtually every night. We also heard baboons hyena a Vereauxs Eagle Owl and many other familiar bush sounds.
    Day 4: Andy and Catrin arrived at 1700 hours after their epic journey to Johannesburg and back in their hired Toyota Hilux from Britz. Great vehicle. That night the famous Chilojo wind came down the valley and nearly blew our tents away. It lasted about 12 hours.
    Day 5 went on game drives and chilled at the camp still Chilojo one.

    Day 6 Chilojo 1 to Chitove Camp—we elected to take the long route on top of the cliffs so that we could go to the two beautiful look out points. We crossed the Runde at Fishans crossing where rocks have been put down to aid the crossing. It was shallow and pretty easy to do. Both the Prado and the Hilux handled the soft sand easily. I did not let my tyres down. The big 4.0 litre Prado is a monster in sand you hardly need 4x4 or low gear! The Hilux appeared just as good but Andy let his tyres down a little and did not change them until we got to Punda Maria 10 days later. Chitove is a beautiful camp right on the Runde with lots of game in and around the river.
    Day 7 stayed at Chitove went for game drives saw lots of game and birds. Lion in the are again heard but not seen.
    Day 8 moving day Chitove to Chilo Lodge. The Chitove river crossing was pretty easy below knee deep water. We meandered to Chilo Lodge stopping for quite long at two viewing spots on the Thembwahata pan. The Save River crossing to Chilo Lodge was intimidating long and deep. The Save had flooded the previous month and the crossing had only been open for a week. We phoned the lodge—there is cell signal there-- and they sent a tractor to watch over us but luckily both vehicles got across uneventfully. A diplomatic 4X4 had got stuck a few days before and had to be hauled out by the tractor. From my point of view the fully loaded Prado with tyres 1,9 in the front 2,1 at the back was again superb—what a great vehicle. We enjoyed our first shower in 7 days filled our water tanks, charged all our electronics and had a great restaurant dinner and pub experience. Chilo Lodge is beautiful with a stunning view.

    Day 9 – 3 of us went on a game drive and bush walk with the head guide Thomas who was one of the best guides I have ever experienced and I have spent many years going on bush walks! Back across the SAVE in the lodge’s Land Cruiser was a piece of cake. The walk lasted about 3 hours. We left Chilo Lodge around midday, had to cross the Save again in our vehicles and then cross the Runde river at Chamuluvati crossing. It was bit challenging deciding on the exact place to cross but there were sticks in the river that we found. This was our 5th river crossing with only the Limpopo River remaining! We did not walk the crossing as the place is alive with crocs. The crossing turned out to be easy and Chamuluvati was yet another stunning camp on the Runde River.
    Day 10—the previous night was alive with sound. Sounded like a lion kill and soon after many excited hyena and lion roars. We surmised that a lone lion looking after an injured female that we had heard about had been robbed of it’s kill by the hyenas. On Day 10 the vultures arrived but we could not access where we thought the kill might be. We spotted the lion and the injured lioness close by our camp. Again short game drives and enjoyed the wild life show going on in the Runde River. A tree expert arrived to photograph a tree that is rare from this area about 100 m from our camp. We visited the nearby Machaniwa pan which was teeming with birds, hippo crocs and other wildlife with some excellent light for photography.

    Day 11 big moving day Chamuluvati to Rossi Pools in the south 160km and 7.5 hours no river crossings. The roads were pretty good, although there were some really slow parts. I imagine the drifts could be difficult in the wet season but we found no real challenges. We arrived at Rossi pools at about 1530 and set up camp. It is a beautiful camp on the side of a cliff with a thatched eating area and the standard long drop. I overlooks the Mwenezi River. Baboon Impala and a scattering of animals would come down to drink. There are definitely fewer animals than in the north of the park.

    Day 12: The next day we chilled at camp. Steve and Andy went for a 2 hour game drive and went up to the Mabalauta gate and spoke to the people there. The park is definitely in need of more guests and hopefully this will happen when the politicians come to their senses in Zim.

    Day 13: Left Rossi pools at 8.15 and it too an hour to the Sango border. We were the only people going through but it still took an hour on the Zim side (Sango) and an hour on the Moz side (Chicualacuala). The Zim officials were friendly but it took nearly 20 minutes to find the engine number on my Prado—they insist on it and actually want to match the engine and chassis numbers on the car with the papers. Tip—find out where they are before you go and clean them and make them visible. The one Zimbabwean hinted for a “present” but we ignore him. The Moz side was a far less friendly place and it to a few phone calls and a half an hour to rouse the custom official who looked in the car for a few seconds and asked us what was in there. Through the border by 1100am. We drove 2km down the only road there is to the service station for fuel. It was about the same price as in South Africa but you could only pay cash either Meticals US dollars or Rands. I paid in rands. We then asked where the track to Pafuri is. It starts on the north side of the bank (pink building) and after that you just follw your nose for 61 km to the Pafuri border post. The 61 km is slow in parts and two 2 hours 45 minutes and runs through a few small villages. We saw a group of 5 South African camping vehicles going the other way and they warned us that there were some youths at the Limpopo crossing blocking the steep bank out of the river as you come from the SA side. They had spades and wanted money to remove the sand. I gathered the group had given them money but they said the crossing was easy. All 5 of them had massive 4x4 trailers. When we got there we found it is not a problem from the Moz side because you are going down the bank into the river. They said the had been working hard to clear the road. We thanked hem and gave them some food. The crossing was an anticlimax—3 little puddles and a lot of soft sand but once again no problem.
    The Pafuri border took a half hour each side—the official was unhappy with my insurance which I had bought on the internet from ICE and made a bit of a fuss but eventually accepted it—not the friendliest. On the SA side the officials are not friendly but not unfriendly they just looked bored and did their jobs without comment.

    It was good to get back into Kruger with the knowledge of backup like other cars, cell signal, the AA medical aid and the like. We proceeded down to Pund Maria one of my favourite camps for our second shower in 2 weeks. The next day we stayed at Letaba and then home to Johannesburg via the Phalaborwa gate.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Gonarezhou Zimbabwe June 2019

    A good report and an interesting video. Well done. I was impressed with your river crossings. I have crossed the Save' as well, and that crossing changes every year with each flood. The sandbanks move slightly and a new route is usually plotted by the Chilo Lodge staff. Chimuluvati is a long sand crossing more that the other crossings. My favorite is the Chitove crossing. You get a bit sand and water challenge.
    [SIGPIC]MikevR Be determined to live the unlived life within you.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Gonarezhou Zimbabwe June 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by MikevR View Post
    A good report and an interesting video. Well done. I was impressed with your river crossings. I have crossed the Save' as well, and that crossing changes every year with each flood. The sandbanks move slightly and a new route is usually plotted by the Chilo Lodge staff. Chimuluvati is a long sand crossing more that the other crossings. My favorite is the Chitove crossing. You get a bit sand and water challenge.
    Thanx loved the trip--river crossings were a first for me and we did 6 including the Limpopo but the Save was really nerve racking! They had just opened it a week before and someone had to be hauled out using the Chilo tractor!

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Gonarezhou Zimbabwe June 2019

    Bryan thank you so much for the report. We will be in that magic part of the world in September!

    Slightly off topic but please give more details on what broke on the prado and maybe why it happened (There are still a lot of members driving these wonderfull cars that might benefit from the info).
    Willem Grobler
    LC 105 GX

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Gonarezhou Zimbabwe June 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by Willem Grobler View Post
    Bryan thank you so much for the report. We will be in that magic part of the world in September!

    Slightly off topic but please give more details on what broke on the prado and maybe why it happened (There are still a lot of members driving these wonderfull cars that might benefit from the info).
    Apparently their Prado had been in an accident before they bought it and the chassis had been welded. They were not told about it by the previous owner and the weld at the engine mountings gave way-- serious stuff! They had been going on serious 4x4 trips for the last 3 years without a problem. If that had have happened in Gonarezhou we would have been in big trouble! The Louis Trichardt Toyota guys and the body shop were superb they worked on it the whole day and it is fixed. My friends were not keen on taking any chances so they hired a Toyota Hilux from www.britz.co.za--great service great car! My own Prado had a service today at Toyota and the Mechanic said he had never seen that on a Prado in his 15 years as a Toyota mechanic--it could only have been the weld. It's freak so don't worry about it. I was very happy with how my old Prado behaved in all conditions--it is especially good in soft sand. I am not a particular fan of the newer Prado's because they have taken half the boot space for huge compulsory electronically operated unremovable back seats which I personally would never use and the petrol tank is only 150 litres--mine is 180 litres.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Gonarezhou Zimbabwe June 2019

    Thanks for your report and the great video. Have considered visiting that part of Zim, but am out of by the cost of just getting across the border and the fabled roadblocks. Well done for getting through all that !

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  9. #7
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    Default Re: Gonarezhou Zimbabwe June 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by wilfwalk View Post
    Thanks for your report and the great video. Have considered visiting that part of Zim, but am out of by the cost of just getting across the border and the fabled roadblocks. Well done for getting through all that !
    Just got back - roadblocks are no longer a problem!

  10. #8
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    Default Re: Gonarezhou Zimbabwe June 2019

    Nice report. Thank for sharing this. Planning to do Zim in 2020, so appreciate all the info.

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