Norma Jean’s campsite had been lovely, beautiful spot and welcoming people. We headed north to Harare and were pleasantly surprised again how little we were harassed by the police. It seems that there has been a slight change of heart and they are more welcoming now! We had lunch at Chicken inn, a version of KFC that was delicious!!! The chips were another story but the chicken made up for it. As always the trip took longer than anticipated so we arrived late afternoon at Lake Chivero ( Mcllwaine) at the Kuimba Shiri campsite about 30 mins from Harare. It means singing birds and there is a bird garden there. The owner Gary Clifford does flying displays every afternoon at 3.30 with raptors who have been rehabilitated which we missed. However we got to see the birds. It incorporates the old Admirals cabin- a favorite childhood haunt for me and a first for Al. Tea at Admiral’s Cabin over weekends accompanied by game drives in the nearby game reserve were part of many weekends out for my family. It’s where I developed a deep love of the African bush. We spent many hours in picnic spots whilst my father brought out his water colours to paint the scene as we played.
One of the highlights of our stay at Kuimba Shiri was the hauntingly beautiful cry of the fish eagles that we heard particularly at dusk and the next morning. They are really magnificent birds and we got to see them close up in the bird garden.
We took our time leaving there the next morning so never made it to Chinhoyi Caves as we headed up North to Kariba. I’ve learned something each day and on this day we travelled on the “Robert Mugabe Highway” to Murombedzi just south of Chinhoyi as this is his home town- I never knew that. There are not many road signs in Zimbabwe so it’s not difficult to go the wrong way, however the locals are used to this. Whenever we hesitated someone on the road side would simply point us on the right direction. In fact in the one town they indicated we should do a u-turn without us even asking for help. Who needs maps with assistance like that!
After the turnoff to Kariba we were in a game corridor with no fences just reminders to be careful when you get out the car. The drive itself is one of great beauty, with the Masasa trees in all their color dotted around and gomos that just went on and on as we traversed the Zambezi Escarpment. Difficult to photograph but we tried! At our campsite, Lomagundi – we had hippos sauntering through the campsite at night, and elephant at the front gate in the morning as they were meandering looking for food. Lomagundi is basically a “boat club” so we used the ablutions at the poolside. I happily had a bath!! Scenes like this bring back echoes of my childhood. We went off to see the Dam Wall, got to walk on it and almost into Zambia. There’s evidence of upgrading as the Chinese are working on generators to increase electricity supply capacity. Many of the road signs were in Chinese. Lake Kariba is magnificent, again difficult to photograph as it is so big. When I was a child people always used to come to Kariba to stay at Caribbea Bay- well we had lunch there. Al had Kariba Sprats for lunch…. Small tiny fish that look like sardines. I gave that a miss.
We went on a sunset cruise on a small catamaran from one of the local hotels and spent two hours enjoying the beauty of the lake and chatting to Justin the captain about life here. Really lovely man. Dinner that night was had a Lomagundi’s pub where right in front of us a hippo calmly got out the water and walked past us- closer than usual as the locals at the bar were also surprised!
Next day Saturday we packed up and headed to Mana Pools- one of those iconic places of Zimbabwe famous for its amazing game and how close you get to it. 32km of badly corrugated road followed by 45km of less corrugated but ‘interesting’ road left Al quite tired. On arrival we discovered a small petrol leak from the main tank of the Sani. Our campsite looks over the Zambezi with Zambia on the other side. The river is full of hippos and crocs and we have been listening to their calls and noises ever since we got here. Last night they were strolling around the campsite in easy view. The lions were also busy roaring just behind us and this morning we found footprints in the sand! In between we heard the sound of unhappy Egyptian Geese. On taking a walk this morning we watched an elephant eating along a nearby river bank, as in Mana there are no game fences and you are free to walk around. On return to our camp site we found we had been over-run by monkeys who had found dustbin bag and collapsed our porch. We had to use the Caties! Hee hee we’re walking on the wild side!!!! We have 4 days here which we will make the most of. Our first road side repair was carried out this morning. Time will tell if the ‘Prattleys patch’ will work!
Now to just enjoy Mana Pools for the next few days