Chizarira Musings Nov 2019





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  1. #1
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    Default Chizarira Musings Nov 2019

    Hi all,

    Having just returned from Chizarira a few days ago, I though I would post some quick points summing up our journey and experience considering SuvutiZN just posted theirs barely a few months ago:


    • We travelled up from Limpopo and overnighted with mates in Bulawayo before setting out the next day for Chiz. Beit Bridge was a breeze, about 40 min and we were over and on the road up to Bullies.
    • Leaving the tar at Gwai river we started in on the dirt to join up with the main Binga-Crossroads tar junction - that didn't happen because a large sharp boulder in the road sliced my Cooper and we retreated to get a spare. Hwange strangely didn't have our size (235/85R16) so we pushed to Vic Falls, obtained a new spare ($209 for a Good Year Adventure, only real choice) and overnighted.
    • Following day we headed down, took the road to Binga from "Crossroads" and eventually turned up on the dirt to Chiz, no worries.
    • Chizarira is a beautiful place with lots of springs, stunning landscape, and some wildlife. We saw one elephant bull there over our six nights but lots of old tracks...the parks lads said they'd all gone south to the Busi.
    • We intended spending 2 nights down on the Busi but rains had started to fall in the park and getting trapped on the wrong side of that river would have been foolish so we stayed in the centre / north.
    • Staff told us cattle grazing in the south was pretty common and the authorities have had their hands full with poachers during Chizarira flat every single year, the effects of which are easily seen. They're in an unfortunate situation up there, everyone - and management is challenging. We saw Sable, Warthog, Impala, Duiker, Kudu and heard lions and leopard. Birding was very stimulating, diverse and we enjoyed our 6 nights immensely.
    • Mucheni View and Gorge campsites have a running clean water tap, amazing views over the escarpment into the Mucheni gorge, but other campsites don't, and no facilities besides. Kaswiswi2 is very nice, a very strong spring, great coffee and sundowners morning and evening over small cliffs and pools on the river, beautiful indeed. Mabola is also nice with pretty good shade...but all the facilities once operational are now shot. There are a few massive crocs at Maswiswi!
    • We were the only visitors in the park for the entire week!!! What an amazing place, would love to do some overnight hiking there...


    Some general notes on Zim


    • People in general are so friendly and considerate and amazingly happy! Young lads walking down the dirt road carrying heavy loads on their backs offered to help with my tyre change, which I politely refused.
    • A few of the more well known and larger shops will take an international credit card or Zim Dollars (RTGS) which you can get at a Bureau de Change.
    • A few fuel stations will sell fuel for cash USD (more common) or ZAR (less common) and this is where one can avoid the queues, but generally only in the large towns / cities. In Bulawayo you can go to Burnside Superette Flo on Hillside road, or Classic Cars on 23rd Avenue.
    • Tyres are expensive compared to SA, obviously. TWT in Vic Falls accepted USD cash thankfully.
    • There are road tolls -- easiest paid in Zim Dollars, but they will take USD as well. We had a toll card from a relation who lives in Zim, very easy.


    We love ZIm, awesome, peaceful...but challenging too in those aspects one considers normal down this way.
    There is a lot of development and opportunity.

    Any questions, fire away!

    Cheers

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Default Re: Chizarira Musings Nov 2019

    Thanks Steve. A few minor queries if you don't mind:
    • Were the internal and approach roads as improved as has been suggested?
    • What facilities were there at Maswiswi and Mabola. I understand the buildings and decks are a wreck but are there now any ablutions?
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Chizarira Musings Nov 2019

    Hi Stan,

    Roads: the only approach road we used was the one from the north up the escarpment and into the park. From the Binga tar road junction , it is dirt, in many places severely pot-holed, broken and badly corrugated for about 7-10km. The Mopane is slowly reclaiming that road sped up by general neglect. After that the remaining 40km (I think?) or so is not bad dirt, one can crack on safely at about 60km/h or so. Then one reaches the Chiz entrance road of about 10km, winding its way slowly up and then precipitously for a short section through lovely gorge-forest. This road is in fair shape, washed out in a couple places but easily done in a 2x4 with a lift if you know how to drive. It's been worked on here and there but not fully.

    After the boom gate, up the pass and into the park, the roads internally have generally been worked on and were being graded and repaired while we were there. A tractor-pulled grader and road-gang were active - I didn't agree with their designs and re-grading, but they are working on the roads, admirably. Some of the more remote tracks hadn't been worked on for years and were rough, but mostly still drivable with 4x4, including some steep crossings, etc. No deep sand to trouble anyone who has even a little skill behind the wheel.

    One should be keenly aware of sharp rocks though which could easily cause misery to an ill-placed wheel along the some of the tracks.
    We started on the track to Mt. Tundazi but turned around at about halfway as our time ran out...the lads in the office confirmed that the last 20% is really bad with rocks galore and will exact damage on tyres (their comment, not mine, so I can't qualify that statement).
    We drove as far as the central watershed ridge on the main road south, but not beyond this, and we explored the central and north pretty well on all the other tracks.
    The airfield is in very good repair, and the game-drive tracks around there, to Bimba sing and Kasanze spring along the upper Mucheni are productive and the roads are fine.

    Facilities: Kaswiswi 1 has an ablution but it hasn't been operational in many years with failing thatch and internals in a completely neglected state (same for Mabola) - all manner of wildlife has taken up residence! There is no tap but the spring in the adjacent river can provide water to those that have run out in emergency. There are two traditional raised thatch-covered "sleeping huts" but one has a broken floor sleeper. There is also a clean thatched "kitchen prep" hut - Kaswiswi is used by the anti-poaching and patrolling teams from time to time so its quite clean, the grass is neatly cut by slasher and there is a rudimentary cement braai area.

    Kaswiswi 2 has no facilities except for the braai stand, but it's spot on the confluence of two streams is idyllic, with a small lake formed at this spot. Huge crocodile. The running spring water is very clean.
    Mabola is like Kaswiswi 1 except it doesn't have any of the traditional thatched sleeping decks, only a dilapidated ablution and donkey boiler. The remains of the water pump and tank can be seen, but long since unserviceable. Next to a beautiful running stream emanating from a strong spring, there is shade available but one has to be relatively self-sufficient to be comfortable. We have built-in water-tanks and a shower system on the Cruiser so we were styling in that department.

    Adjacent to Mabola is Platform...this was destroyed by the "community" (poachers) and there is zero shade at that site - zero facilities besides.

    I will post a map I was given at reception, and any other info.

    Cheers

  4. #4
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    Jun 2014
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    Haenertsburg
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    Default Re: Chizarira Musings Nov 2019

    In addition:

    We paid (cash) US$3 pppd conservation fees, US$10 vehicle fee (valid for 7 days), and US$10 pppd camping fees at park reception.

    There is a little Econet cell signal at "Kariba View" which is 2.7km (not 4.5km as indicated on the sign) from the entrance road at the top of the pass where you enter the park.
    Good water can be obtained from the workshop at the back of reception...it's the same as that water at Mucheni campsites.

    S

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Chizarira Musings Nov 2019

    Thanks Steve, lovely destination.
    Sounds like roads much the same, perhaps slightly improved since my last visit 2010. I was hoping that facilities at the campsites other than the Mucheni ones had also been upgraded/restored a little. No matter as we travel self-sufficient.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Chizarira Musings Nov 2019

    Basic Chizarira Map
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Chizarira Musings Nov 2019

    Many thanks Steve for your informative inputs. Chizarira is a great place to chill if you want peace and quiet. Pity you did not get down to Busi, and also to the springs on the north west side after the ridge past the old airstrip landing area.
    [SIGPIC]MikevR Be determined to live the unlived life within you.

  8. #8
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    Feb 2011
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    Default Re: Chizarira Musings Nov 2019

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the update, it is truly a special place , sorry you missed the ellies and were not able to get down to Busi. Maybe next time.

    PS. The RTT is working very well thanks again

    Regards

    Paul

  9. #9

    Default Re: Chizarira Musings Nov 2019

    We visited Chizarira in 2009. We were the only people in the park.

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  10. #10
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    Jun 2014
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    Default Re: Chizarira Musings Nov 2019

    @SuvutiZN - glad you're enjoying the RTT Paul...one thing I always think about is being extremely careful getting into and out of one in the middle of the night when answering the call of nature!!
    We found a few other really nice springs, the place is magical, must hike there one day...

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Gillitts Durban
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    Default Re: Chizarira Musings Nov 2019

    Dear All - Is Busi a recognized campsite? Can you book it upfront or do you check at the gate if it is available? Has anyone got the campsite coordinates for Busi? Thanks Bernard
    Last edited by Bernard Burger; 2020/01/15 at 04:09 PM.

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