Rhino, Warthog, and Zebra! Oh My!

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Our recent family holiday took us to Zimbabwe to visit family. My father in law lives there and we hadn’t seen him for months as he is the poster child for snow birds, spending the English summertime in the UK and returning to his home in Africa just in time to soak up the summer sun. We also visited many relatives and enjoyed the beauty that is Africa. This was my first visit to the continent as well as NuNu’s, and I must say that I went in with my mind being a complete blank canvas of expectations which left me totally  blown away by my experiences.

We spent our first day in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, the country’s government seat as well as the largest city. We were completely drained so we didn’t get to see much of the city. On our second day we headed out to Masvingo, P’s hometown.  We were driven by P’s dad whom I will lovingly refer to as “Granddaddy Dundee” throughout my Zim posts. Granddaddy Dundee (GD), is a retired geologist that spent most of his career navigating the landscape and terrain of various countries in Africa. We couldn’t really ask for a better guide and he was thrilled to do so, pointing out various landmarks, indigenous plants and animals.

The road South was bumpy to say the least but the scenery was breathtaking. As we rode along the paved roads there were hills lined with plush greenery that I now know is referred to as “the bush” and most importantly “rest area/toilet facilities” as there are very few along the journey.  Every few metres we would pass women and children selling their fresh produce of wild mushrooms, onions, potatoes or mangoes.

Masvingo, formerly known as Fort Victoria prior to 1982, is in South East Zimbabwe. It is the oldest colonial settlement in Zimbabwe. The city was once a booming farming district but mass dismantling of the agricultural industry has significantly reduced farming in the area. The town  reminded me of parts of North Carolina, dirt roads, people smiling and waving as you drive by. Immediately it felt like home, like I belonged here and was welcomed from the very beginning.

Outside of being met with a power cut and no running water it was rather peaceful and laid back. The biggest hassle was remembering to take my Malaria pills and getting NuNu untangled from the mosquito net that hang above our bed.

NuNu and the net!

NuNu and the net!

On our third day in Masvingo, Granddaddy Dundee, armed with his enthusiasm for the countryside and all things wild, decided to take us on safari and for a bit of site seeing. Our first stop was Kyle Game Park. The drive-thru park is home to more than 25 species of wild mammals and it didn’t take long for us to spot them. Truly I was expecting to see a few warthogs roaming around and other smaller animals lurking under a shade tree but what did we see?? A Rhino! Not just one but there were actually 6 of them just hanging around.

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In strict Granddaddy Dundee fashion he wants us to “get a closer look” so he nearly brings us face to face with the wild beasts. Me? I’m close to hiding under the seat and praying that they don’t decide to charge. “P” on the other hand, ignores all signs that CLEARLY state “Do not exit your vehicles” and steps out of the truck to get a better look! All I could think of was, “Lord, I’m gonna have to buy him a new suit and a fresh pine box because this man is about to DIE!”

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Thankfully, nothing happened and the animals kept on grazing. We moved on and spotted loads of zebra off in the distance and we were able to catch some A-mazing footage.

From there we went on to see impala, wildebeest, warthog, and baboon but most impressive was the buffalo. OMG. I have never been so intimidated in my life. These things look like mean ogres with mangy blonde wigs on, which is actually remnants of their recent mud baths splattered on their heads.

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We didn’t see any lions, giraffe, leopards or elephants at Kyle Game Park but it was well worth the visit. There wasn’t a shortage of game and between the beautiful views and animal interaction it was a great time. It wouldn’t have been a trip to the game park without stopping by Lake Mutirikwi and capturing some beautiful images of the water and surrounding areas.

Lake Mutirikwi (formal name Lake Kyle) was created in 1960 along with Kyle Dam. Kyle Dam was constructed to provide a means of irrigation to the sugar cane farming estates on the nearby lowveld. The water of Lake Kyle is of great interest as it supplies the water needs to surrounding towns. The level can drastically fluctuate due to the irrigation demands which in turn negatively impact aquatic life and the people that depend on it. We walked the dam, but me being afraid of heights nervously took a few photos and hurriedly scurried back to our starting point.

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The drive through the highlands encompassed EVERYTHING that represents peace and tranquillity,  greenery, rock formations, rushing water and bright colourful flowers. To bring our site seeing tour to an end we decided to partake in refreshments before heading back to the city. We stopped at Norma Jeane’s Lake View Resort (www.normajeaneslakeviewresort.com).

If you are looking for inviting and serene this is it. The restaurant is nice but the grounds are stunning to say the least.  From the patio you can see Lake Mutirikwi off in the distance and there are lovely stoned pathways that navigate through a perfectly maintained garden. After we enjoyed our cold drinks and sandwiches I didn’t want to leave. This is certainly a place that I will return to, a gem in the bush. Next time we must rent a cabin as I was well impressed with the service and the grounds. If you’re looking for a haven in the bush visit Norma Jeane’s Lake View Resort. Service top notch, the views…epic.

More photos of our outing:

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery- air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy” ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

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