I had to drive down to Bulawayo last weekend so I could not resist placing my faithful mountain bike in the back of the car. I spent a night at the Cresta Churchill Arms and drove out the Matopos National Park (30km away) for an early morning ride. I parked at the main Nat parks entrance (as the Bulawayo Lounge Lizards do every Saturday afternoon) and took off along a few back road paths. Some of them were quite sandy so it can be tough going if you are not used to it.
I hadn’t ridden 100 metres before I passed by a bachelor herd of Impala and then a little while later I was confronted by about 60 Wildebeest running alongside a dozen Zebra (can anyone tell me why these 2 animals are always found together?). I was in no rush so I parked my bike, sipped from my water bottle and savoured the view (under the shade of one of the more common Matabele Acacia trees). Sticking to the bush for a while longer I proceeded to “Bundu Bash” for another 30 minutes or so when I came across a second (definitely a different lot) herd of Wildebeest with yet more Zebra.
It was then time to go back onto the Circular Drive – narrow tar allowing you to take in the breath taking sight of the mystical Balancing Rocks that the Matobo Hills are so well known for. I was fortunate to cycle past a couple of female Kudu (ewes) followed later by about 20 Sable. As I passed by the turnoff to Rhodes Grave a Rock I was fortunate to spot a juvenile Black Eagle Scouring the rocky outcrops looking for its next meal. Their diet consists almost entirely of Rock Hyraxes – this “Dassie” is a largish rat like mammal that you see wherever you stay in the Matopos – they always look so cute and cuddly!
I grew up in Matabeleland so our favourite weekend trip was spent in the Matopos National Park. I am always so surprised at how many people living in Harare have never been to surely one of Zimbabwe’s best kept secrets. Such a wonderful place to take your kids to for a safe bit of camping. If you want to find out more simply send me an email. Ciao Mike G.