11-13 June 2018
Richard and I bade farewell to Sue and Patrick, who are heading back to KNP via Gonarezhou for a night, and then home. Chilo Lodge provided us with a packed lunch as it was to be a long day in the car. The drive to Matopos from Chilo goes through even more beautiful landscapes – not a boring drive at all. Zimbabwe is truly a beautiful country.
The roadblocks now wave international tourists through – everyone is friendly and helpful. The state of the national road from Beit Bridge is potholy, to say the least, mostly because of the huge number of long-haul trucks that traverse this road to Harare. One really has to concentrate and weave between potholes, but the oncoming traffic is doing the same. Makes for interesting driving. Comfort breaks at fuel stations along the way even in tiny towns provided clean loos – even if things are old and worn, partially broken, they were really clean.
Our destination for the evening was Big Cave Campsite – we planned to stay in their little rondavels, but when we looked at them, Richard decided he would be far more comfy in our tent. So we camped instead. The campsite is basic, but the ablutions are clean, there is water, and hot showers thanks to a donkey heating system. We got to the campsite around 5 pm. Huge temperature difference from the Eastern lowlands, so we were under our duvets as soon as we had eaten our delicious braaied steak and potato.
Today (12 June) we packed up and headed to the Matopos Park Entrance, paid the fee, and drove through the incredible hills of granite rocks in stacks, balancing seeming precariously on other rocks, in mounds, huge boulders, odd shapes….quite a geological wonder. We visited the White Rhino paintings in a cave cum rocky overhang – done by San people before they were driven west and south as the Bantu peoples moved into the area from north and west Africa.
Then to World’s View and Rhodes Grave. Wow, what a place. Full of history and wonder. Cecil John Rhodes is very privileged to be buried here – endless views of rolling rocky hills and peace. An interesting, controversial man he was. It was quite an emotional experience being there for many reasons, but part of it was that I grew up in Muizenberg, it is where we live still, and that is where Rhodes died. Rhodes, as you know, made is fortune in Kimberley where Richard spent his youth, and here we were at the place where he is buried.
After a breakfast at the picnic spot at World’s View,
we did a little shopping at the craft market before heading to the Pomongwe Cave.
One pays an extra fee at World’s View to visit the Heritage sights, which includes these caves. Well worth a visit. There is a small interpretation centre which explains, with a bit of a tired display, but informative none the less, about the cave. A young man was at hand to provide more information, and then walk with us to the cave and continue the explanation. Beautiful rock paintings, but many of them destroyed buy an experiment to try to preserve them many years ago using linseed oil.
We needed a place to stay for tonight, so we headed for the Park HQ, and after looking at the bungalows we booked in. They are all being renovated; our one is done – very comfortable indeed at USD86 for the two of us. Some of the crockery and cutlery needs to be replaced, but I am sure that will happen. Power outages are a big thing here, so last night, and this afternoon there was no power. Just as we were about to eat, the power came on. The cottages/lodges are fully self-catering. No shops around here, so come prepared, but it is worth it to stay here.
The Cottages are above the Maleme Dam, which also has an extensive campsite. Really pretty as it is in a gorge. The campsites are mostly grassed, have a braai area. Not sure about the state of the ablutions as I didn’t check, but there is no power or water.
Tomorrow we leave beautiful Zimbabwe and head to Botswana – Nata Lodge – camping though!