2011
08.01

Going to Gonaz

On the road to Gonarezhou National park, we stop at a village to stock up on firewood. For $2 we literally fill our entire roof with it and Nick has to spend half an hour trying to secure it all down with the entire village watching on and laughing as he dances for them on the roof of our car – Nick always liked being on stage.

We arrive at Gonarezhou that afternoon and pitch up our tent. Roughly translated Gonarezhou means ‘the wilderness of elephants’.

The big appeal for us to visit the park is that its lower altitude means its hotter than anywhere else in Zim – something we have been missing since the start of our African winter here. I arrived at the Chipinda Pools campsite with my thermals and fleece blanket in hand, but instead enjoyed a warm night by the fire in a t-shirt and pants. Already we were loving this place, what an amazing way to spend our official 1 year in Africa. We even had 2 porcupines come by, foraging the forest floor for food, and letting us admire how they flare their long spiky quills to warn us away and sleek them back to squeeze through branches. A year of Africa and still its wild never fails to please.

Gonarezhou is said to have the highest biodiversity of all Zims national parks, although low in numbers, so we are fortunate to have 2 new animal sightings of a Jacksons mongoose with its bushy white tail held up in the air like a skunk and Nyala bulls and cows – looking very similar to my favourite antelope: the majestic kudu. The low numbers of animals are due to an effort to control tsetse flies forty years ago – resulting in 55,000 large animals being killed.

There is a plethora of impala scattered through the park – cronking and leaping away from us in ever so high bounds.

The Chilojo cliffs – raising 200m above the River Runder; resemble the layers of a marble cake, made up of yellow, pink and brown.

We have much of this 5000 square kilometre park to ourselves, only seeing 2 other vehicles on the road in the 4 nights we spend here.  In our last 2 nights at  our Chinguli campsite set right along the sandy river, we don’t see a single soul.

At Chinguli we feel like we are right at the beach with the rapids echoing ocean waves and the feeling of sand between our toes. Its here on our ‘private African beach’ that we see a genet chasing after a mouse.

Its also in this same setting that I have my most enlightening meditation experience ever – to the soothing sounds of birds and a running river. The hard granite stone beneath me, whilst making me fell grounded throughout my meditating, also eventually leave my legs numb. Once I come out of my serene state, I realise I have lost the feeling in my lower legs and become temporarily paralysed.

Funny things we see

- the massive amounts of firewood on our roof racks


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