Tuesday, July 26

My beloved Zimbabwe

overlooking the Pungwe River Gorge, Eastern Highlands (1984)
The country of my birth, childhood and early adult years has been much on my mind lately.

The news reports have been depressing, and a dearest Aunt who still lives in the small country town of Chinhoyi is close to the end of her long and fulfilling life.

on Gambuli Ranch (1977)

My Aunt and Uncle were largely instrumental in introducing me, city born & raised, to the beauty and wonder of the African bush. This was during the frequent school holidays spent on their large cattle ranch where, starting at dawn, I shadowed my very patient Uncle on all his daily rounds........

Being the wonderful and eternally generous hosts that they are, we also accompanied them on many excursions to Lake Kariba and other parts of Zimbabwe.

As I grew older and more independent, those early influences guided me in where I chose to go on my own holidays.

Remembering both my home, and my family still there, I thought I would share with you a few of my favourite Zimbabwean spots.

These pictures have been taken over the course of the last 35 years, so please accept the quality accordingly........

Lake Kariba

Lake Kariba - looking south - 1990
I've probably spent more time at Lake Kariba than anywhere else in Zim. Lying on our northern border with Zambia, it is a vast  body of fresh water teeming with kapenta (fresh water sardines), bream and the fighting Tiger fish.

Lots and lots of crocodiles and hippo as well!

Scuba diving was the main reason for my frequent trips to the Lake, but fishing, drinking and wild life spotting also played an important part.......

Easter weekend at Kariba, 1985

On our diving club trips we usually chartered one of the big ferries that operated up and down the lake. With their shallow draft they could be easily beached, and provided lots of room for all our equipment. Unless the island we beached on was full of wildlife, we usually slept on shore under the stars.

Raising a kapenta net, 1984

A useful form of income for our club was locating and recovering kapenta fishing nets, which were often snagged in the submerged trees.

Over the years we also located and helped recover several boats that had sunk into the deceptively calm waters of Kariba.

The storms can be very nasty.......
Kapenta fishing boats resting up during the day - 2015
Visiting cousins from the US - 1988

Of course, it wasn't all work......

Kariba is an ideal holiday destination. Steamy hot during the summer, but mild in the winter.

And perfect water-skiing conditions when in the shelter of the Kariba hills.

Wildlife can still be spotted on the southern and eastern shores of Kariba, despite decades of poaching.....

a signature Kariba sunset (2015)

Mana Pools / Zambezi River Valley

The daily visit to the camp ground... (1984)
Further down the Zambezi River, starting close to Chirundu is the Lower Zambezi River Valley. For centuries hostile to human settlement due to it's baking hot climate, malaria and tse-tse fly (sleeping sickness).

Sunset over Zambia - 1984

Where few humans dare to settle, wildlife flourishes. This has, for over a century, made it the winter play ground for hunters and eco-tourists alike.

I've posted before on Mana Pools (Paradise Revisited), the National Park located in the valley, hunched between hunting areas on both sides. Once you have been to Mana you will always yearn to return.

And that's what I did every year from 1983 to 1993. Sometimes more than once a year. Apart from camping and walking in an unfenced wilderness, one can also do canoe trips down the river. I've done 5 of those, varying from 3 to 5 days, sleeping on sandbanks every night, or twice with luxury tents at each overnight stop......
My first canoe trip - Chirundu to Mana 1988

If it isn't already on your bucket list, and you enjoy my blogs, then I would urge you to add Mana Pools and a Zambezi River canoe trip to it.

Baboons down at one of the "pools" for their evening drink (1989)

It's still wild and very, very special.

The Eastern Highlands

I'm going to wrap up this long posting with a last "favourite" spot. One wouldn't think that with annual Mana Pools trips and Kariba at least twice a year there would be time for more.

View from Susurumba Rock, Easter 1993

However Zimbabwe's spectacular Eastern Highlands are only a short 3 hour trip from Harare and became a favourite weekend destination - I've even been there on a day trip with visitors!

at the top of Mtarazi Falls, 1985

There's many places to spend time at, both north and south of the mountain town of Mutare.

The Nyanga area, however was my favourite.........

Well that's a short list of my most visited, and special Zimbabwean places.

There are obviously a lot more - Victoria Falls, Gona-re-Zhou, Hwange, the Bulawayo area.....

and the list goes on.

Despite the political and economic problems, Zimbabwe remains one of the most beautiful countries in Africa, and the people one of the friendliest.

Even though I am proud to be a South African now, and I love my new home country very much, there is still a large part of my heart and soul that is reserved for Zimbabwe.........


Jen Standish-White said...

Beautifully written and full of love and heart capturing your and for many of us, our beloved Zimbabwe. A fitting tribute to the land and people we hold dear and love unconditionally. Thank you dearest Sue xxx

Coral Wild said...

Thanks so much for your comment Jen.

One of many "losses" we share........

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. The pictures are beautiful. It sad that politics ruined everything.

Joyful said...

Beautiful post and wonderful memories of your childhood. The photos capture the beauty of your homeland. I would love to travel more of Africa.

Coral Wild said...

Thanks for the visit and comment Penny. I always appreciate them :)
As with any large continent, African landscapes are incredibly varied - desert to snow capped mountains, wave washed shores to thick rain forest.
Zimbabwe does not offer much of the drama but is like a beautiful little jewel half hidden in the tropics....

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Coral - so sad what's happening now ... I was there when 'this' man took over - 1978 or thereabouts ... and loved Zim ... for family reasons - but relish Southern Africa ... and love your photos ... and I have some happy memories of Zim ...

Wonderful shots you've pulled out for us ... happy memories from me - the sad ones can be forgotten for now ... cheers Hilary

Coral Wild said...

Thank you so much Hilary. This post is even more poignant for me this morning, as the beloved Aunt I wrote about passed away last night.
Another little piece of Zimbabwe gone....