By Rwendo Life
One of our goals, as a couple, is to explore the African continent while taking plenty of weekends away around Zimbabwe as often as we can. We have discovered that there are many unpopular but amazing places that are yet to be explored and we are excited to experience them for ourselves.
We stay in the capital city of Harare so we decided to escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a quick trip to Darwendale Recreational Park. The park is located about 76km west of Harare and it occupies an area of about 11,200ha. Just under three quarters of this area is covered by the Lake Manyame. After digging around the Zimpark’s website, we immediately fell in love with the place since we both love nature and water.
We had planned to leave Harare early so that we would get as much time to explore the recreational park as possible since we were booked for only one night. We were going to have a self-catering cottage, therefore, we made sure to purchase the necessary supplies.
We left Harare at exactly 8am and set off on our adventure. The advantage of leaving early is that you can have a chance to check out some amazing scenery and other places along the way. 23km into our journey, we made a spur of the moment decision to pass through the Lion and Cheetah Park to get a glimpse of the king of the jungle since we had plenty time on our hands. The spontaneous decision was golden as one of the staff, Steven, gave us a 5 star tour. We got to see the lions and other game species which include the crocodile, eland and duiker. We also spent some time with the co-star of Lion and Cheetah Park is Tommy, a Galapagos tortoise, who is over 250 years old and weighs around half a tonne!
After our two hour detour, we continued with our journey. Our excitement levels were higher than before. About 60km from Harare we decided to make another stop, this time at Manyame River Bridge just to get a closer glimpse. We went under the bridge as there is a small footpath that leads to the water. The sound of the water flowing, smell of the fresh air and thick dense bushes made us feel grateful. The tension of city life fell away. We sat there absorbing the environment, playing with the water and documenting it for thirty minutes.
With just 15km left to get to our destination, we got back in the car and were off again. This time we didn’t stop until we got to the Zimparks signage where we turned right into a dust road that held the last 5km of our journey. The dirt road is challenging to maneuver on some parts with our small Toyota Vitz Clavia. If it had been raining, we would have been stuck so we recommend you use a four wheel drive during the rainy season as the road becomes muddy and slippery.
We got to the Zimparks entrance and were given a warm welcome by the friendly staff who confirmed our booking and handed us the keys to our cottage.
As we drove to the cottage we passed through the dense and peaceful bush filled with spoils of different indigenous trees which made the whole experience breathtaking and memorable. The cottage was finally in sight but our first port of call was exploring our surroundings before going inside the cottage. After an hour of exploring the outside, we finally decided to get into the cottage.
The cottage was quite cozy with a fully equipped kitchen including all the utensils necessary for self-catering, a lounge, dining room, two bedrooms, a shower and a braai area. We also got to enjoy the amazing view of the dam right from the cottage and that’s where we sat as we watched the sun set. We decided to retire into our cottage and prepared a filling dinner comprising of roast chicken, roasted potatoes, cucumber salad and wine.
We woke up the next morning ready and energised to explore our home away from home. We started off by going to tour the Darwendale Dam where we met one of the staff who manages the dam wall. This is where we got our dam history lesson. The dam was constructed in 1976 and is a home to vast aquatic species like the Mozambique bream, tiger fish and the Hunyani salmon. In the distance, we could see fisherman in their canoes and boats doing a bit of fishing right in the middle of Lake Manyame and we immediately put fishing on our list as something that we would definitely try out on our next trip.
After viewing the dam, we then went to explore the campsite or camping area, which is another exciting accommodation alternative that we are definitely going to try out on our next trip as it is something we have never done before. This campsite has a communal ablution block, and water points plus braai points dotted around the camp.
We decide to spend the entire day at the picnic site which overlooks Lake Manyame. With our basket filled with fruits and snacks we enjoyed the breeze coming from the lake with monkeys jumping up and down the vast Musasa trees which surrounded us. The park sustains a variety of trees which gives the place a unique nature filled atmosphere. The head ranger, Mr Makore, told us that approximately 3100ha of the park is reserved for smaller and less dangerous animals, mainly herbivores such as sable, kudu, water buck, bushpig, reed buck, common duiker, warthog, baboon, vervet monkey, oribi and porcupine. Unfortunately, most of the animals didn’t come out to meet us that day.
Returning home we felt relaxed and ready to take on our busy jobs that required our full creative abilities. If you are looking for a place to clear your mind and bond with nature then this recreational park is the right place to visit. A day trip would still be worth it as well.- © NZiRA Travel Zimbabwe
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