HI All

Christmas means so many different things to each and every one of us and we all have our own special way of celebrating the occasion. This time around I decided to leave all of the glitz and glamour of the big city and head south to Gonarezhou. There are 2 sets of tented camps in the southern most part of this National Park – the long established Chipinda Pools in the extreme south and the 6 new tents facing the Chilojo Cliffs called Chipali some 35km away – each costing just $120 per night per tent. I spent 2 nights in each place finishing off with a bit of comfort staying one night at Chilo Lodge.

Chipinda Pools is a set of perennial pools along the Runde River where many mammals and birds come down regularly to quench their thirst. The Tents have 3 spacious sections: a cooking area; Bathroom; and, a main bedroom – self-catering with a full set of utensils included. All of the lighting and geysers are solar-powered. No internet in the camps – just at reception 2km away. The Frankfurt Geological Society have done so many good things for Gonarezhou and it is well worth the long drive to spend time in the park. There are plenty of remote camping sites, with clean ablution blocks, where the more adventurous can set up their own tents. The vegetation is predominately Mopani woodland mixed with Ironwood (Androstachys ) and all the trees were in full green leaf last month. There an abundance of wildlife in this park, and December is probably not the best time for Game Viewing, but I was still witness to a wide variety of plains game and Elephant – even saw Giraffe at the entrance.

The whole idea of staying in place like Chipinda Pools is for one to “Just Chill for a while” – no rush to do anything. I took along my usual collection of books for reading! “The Silent Patient” was very thought provoking whilst “The Lost Man” (Jane Harper) was an excellent thriller set in the Australian Outback.

It was my first visit to this remote part of Zimbabwe so I was pleasantly surprised by how untouched everything seemed – a hidden gem – so different to Mana and Hwange where there seems to be an upmarket private camp around every second corner. Of special note was the visit to the Chibilila Falls just a 20 minute drive from the Parks entrance – spectacular waterfalls all across the Runde River. Very pleased I had downloaded the Sasol Birds App before I left town – spent a good few minutes watching a juvenile Brown Snake Eagle, perched on a dead leadwood tree, fighting off a couple of determined Fork Tailed Drongos. I trust all of our readers had a pleasant festive season and that you are all firmly implementing those 5 New Year’s Resolutions.

Happy New Year.

Mike G.

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