Zimbabwe, April & May 2012 - Zim 4x4 Trip

Having read about Dick and Sally Pitman's planned trip to explore the Zambezi River area we thought that it would make an interesting start to our time in Zimbabwe. We were told that some parts of the trip would not be suitable for trailers so at Kuimba Shiri Bird Park we put our rooftop tent on the bakkie and left the trailer there for 10 days.

The 4 vehicles that took part in the trip:

and the people: Mac, Peter & Carol, Kevin & I and Sally & Dick:


We all got on really well and we've made some good friends that we hope to travel with again.

Part 1 Mana Pools

We spent 3 nights at Nyamepi campsite on the banks of the Zambezi. Dick & Sally spent a lot of time at Mana and know the Park well so they were able to show us around. At this time of the year (April) it's the end of the rainy season so there was water in the old river channels and all the trees had leaves on. Peter & Carol visited Mana last year at the end of the dry season and were amazed at the difference.

Sunset over the Zambezi from our campsite.

We saw several groups of elephants.

Mana is the only Park in Zimbabwe where you're allowed to walk on your own. DIck is a qualified guide and carries a rifle when out walking so we all felt quite safe.

During the late afternoon we drove to Mana Mouth and had sundowners beside the river.

Sunset.

Our best sighting was of a pack of around 20 wild dogs. We sat and watched them for an hour - wonderful.

Without Dick we would never have known about this lovely dam with hippos and lots of birds.

When we first saw the wild dogs we all got out of our vehicles and sat and watched them but they soon moved away.  We went and had a look at the carcass that they’d left – an impala – and then walked across the gully on the track.  We then decided to carry on in the vehicles so I went back for the bakkie while Kevin waited for me.  Peter and Carol went first and I followed and as we drove over the gully we saw Kevin running towards us.... with the dogs trotting behind him– his face was a picture!!! - such a pity that I didn't get a photo of his expression.

Part 2 The Middle Jesse Road.

Last year Dick and Sally and a some members of the Zim 4x4 club opened up the Middle Jesse Road and they wanted to check out that it was still drivable after the rains.

We had to negotiate several dry river beds. The first one was a wide sandy riverbed which, after Dick put his vehicle in 4 wheel drive, wasn't a problem.

Peter made all the crossings look easy.

Kevin and I took turns at the dry river crossings.

Some of the river crossings needed a bit of work before we could drive across.

We followed a large bull elephant (very slowly) for half an hour before he eventually wandered off into the bush.

Part 3 Chewore River

We'd thought that driving the Middle Jesse Road might take 2 days but we did it in one so were able to stay at Chewore River Lodge, on the banks of the Zambezi, for a couple of nights.

Sunrise over the Zambezi.

Peter, Dick & Mac spent the morning fishing - but didn't catch anything.

We saw several kingfishers using fallen trees to look for fish in the river.

In the afternoon Dick arranged for us to go on a boat trip on the Zambezi. All the boys fished but the only person who landed a fish was Carol.

Part 4 Mkanga Bridge

Our next stop was at Mkanga Hunting Lodge where Dick had arranged for an area to be cleared for us to camp.

On the way we pulled this tree off the track.

Near Mkanga are a couple of places where you can see dinosaur footprints - amazing - which have been viewed by very few people.

Along one streambed there were lots of prints.

Kevin's hand shows the size of the footprints.

We drove to the confluence of the Angwa and Maura Rivers for lunch.  However lunch was delayed slightly as we had a lesson in vehicle recovery from Mac as both Mac and Dick got stuck in the mud.

Peter used his winch to pull Dick's vehicle out of the mud.

A snatch rope was then used to pull Mac out.

Part 5 Mkanga to Mavuradhona

After 5 days of seeing only 1 other vehicle and no settlements we left Mkanga and at Angwa Bridge started travelling through communal land.

We stopped to look at some petrified wood near the road. This was the largest trunk that we saw - it looks like wood but has been turned to stone.

On our way back up the Zambezi escarpment we stopped at a viewpoint.

Throughout our 10 days of travelling we had a wonderful time. Sally and Dick had been a mine of information and had showed us things that we'd never had seen on our own.

1. Kuimba Shiri Bird Park.

2. Zim 4x4 trip. Mana Pools, Chewore, Mkanga and Mavuradonha.

3. The Eastern Highlands - Nyanga National Park, Vumba and Chimanimani National Park.

4. Gonarezhou National Park.

5 Great Zimbabwe and Lake Mutirikwi.

6. Lake Kariba sailing regatta.

Diary (Word '97 document).

 

Sally pointed out lots of trees and shrubs (I only wish that I'd written down the names of them!). This one I do remember - the local name is baboon's tails and it's used as a pot scourer.

 

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