The Matopos (Matobo Hills) is my spiritual heaven – I fell in love with it on my first Scouts camp staying at Gordons Camp way back in ’65. Whenever I drive down to Bulawayo it is mandatory for my mountain bike to brought along for the ride (sic). So on Saturday morning, I took off on a 30km ride around the entrance to the Matopos National Park. All of the game is, of course, now well hidden in the overgrown bush but I did come across 2 separate tortoises! – one about the size of my thumb!
The next day, after my run, I sat down to a late breakfast readying myself for the long, testing Sunday drive back to Harare and, whilst I waited for my poached eggs, I looked back at some of the photos taken on my cycle. In one of those
“if not, why not?” moments I convinced myself that I could do with a complete chill day off. An hour or so and just 20km later, I was winding my way down the short dirt road to the Matobo Hills Lodge. The sun had reached its zenith by the time I arrived so I gladly accepted a cold Zambesi and sat alone on the porch overlooking a valley full of all sorts of Balancing rocks – at that particular moment I was, seemingly, the only guest so it was very easy to just sit and “listen” to the Sounds of Silence. I watched for a good 15 minutes whilst a pair of Black Eagles circled the heavens watching what could only have been their offspring learning how to soar in the turbulent winds below.
(Read about Verreaux Eagles in our latest Nzira Travel Zimbabwe Magazine)
After lunch, and a long afternoon siesta, I sat down to read the last couple of 100 pages of Sydney Sheldon’s book – “The Silent Widow” – I always love reading books that end of the story with a completely unexpected “Twist of the Tale”
As I have stated many times before, there can be no better place in the world to view the Milky Way than the Matopos on a moonless night. So, answering a call of Nature at about 1 am, I stood and took in the beauty of the stars from outside my chalet. Lo and behold a shooting star flashed across the skies and, yes, I did make a (has to be secret) wish there and then.
The Matobo Hills has often been described as the Leopard Capital of the world yet actual sitings of Leopard (Mbada / Ingwe) are few and far between. Imagine then, my surprise, when just a minute or two after jumping back into bed I heard the distinct rasping call of a Male Leopard – it sounds like someone sawing through a thick piece of wood. I was reliably informed by the guide the next day that the Male has a much slower call than the female. Sound travels so far in the middle of the night but I could have sworn he was just passing outside my room!
I was up at first light the next day to climb up the combo behind the camp to watch the sunrise followed, shortly thereafter, by Baboons barking in the distance (Bho, Bho). The wonderful part of the world.
Enjoy, Mike G.