By Rufaro Kaviya & Juliet Mashiri
Four days and three nights with the base of a tent for a bed and a sleeping bag for warmth in the cool winter temperatures of Juliasdale; would I do it all over again? – I’ll see you there.
With a slight idea of just what we were about to get ourselves into, and hopes of a great long weekend ahead, Rufaro managed to convince her soon to be three other happy campers (our two friends and I) about the new event on the block, the Nyamazi Festival; the place to be over the Heroes weekend. Activities, outdoor adventuring, music and a promise of food was enough for our group of four to start our preparations for a long awaited road trip on my part.
An early start and an initial stop at the local supermarket for our essentials had us on the road in good time. The beginning of our road trip was filled with loud spontaneous moments and a blend of each of our varying tastes in music, each genre bringing with it its own mood in the car and hyping us up along the way. With windows rolled down and the cooling breeze filtering through, the car seemed to dance along with us on the smooth Mutare Road. This saw us being the first campers on site for the day and plenty of time to explore our surroundings for the next four days. Locating our tent, with the help of the on-duty staff, we took the trips back and forth to the car carrying all our weekend supplies through the maze that was the campsite. What once appeared to be our spacious pitch 6 (the campground “6”) suddenly turned into an explosion of bags, bedding and cooler boxes. Settling in and adding some much needed order to our tent, we took the time to rest within our four walls.
Recuperated and ready for dinner, our DJ for the weekend, Mudhara Hwenje, beckoned us to the common area with a call on the sound system and the first of the evening’s tunes. Easy Caterers, the temporary occupants of the shack, presented us with a stocked buffet, mouth-watering, hot and just what we needed after the distance travelled in the heat of the day.
With signs of life around the camp and chattering we took this opportunity to get acquainted with our fellow campers who had finally arrived. With quite the mixed bag of festival goers, from bankers, travel writers, families, to a group of women whose main objective was a girls long weekend away from the city, the night set the tone for what would surely be a memorable experience.
It is at this point that you should note this trip was undertaken by a group of tech savvy millennials with limited knowledge of camping – a first for some, especially in the Eastern Highlands. The evidence was clear on our first morning our tent felt as if it had been transported to the arctic circle overnight, as the biting cold weather transformed it into a mini refrigerator and our sleeping bags damp from the morning mist, an occurrence we soon began to brace ourselves for every morning until the end of the trip.
The campsite as a whole was designed with a modern edge in its design to cater for city dwellers such as ourselves who would still want to experience a taste of camping. The Charangwas took pains to ensure we would have minimum discomfort as we spent the weekend exploring the camp and its surrounding areas. This was evident in the flush system toilets, aesthetically appealing and solar powered showers, as well as conveniently placed pavilions for rest. We were even assured of network throughout the site to stay in comms if need be.
Our days consisted of downtime at the pavillion enjoying the atmosphere unique to the area with the music from the deck carried through the air, hiking up the adjacent mountain range and searching for the greatly talked about, however elusive falls close to the camp. This became a running joke around the camp, each of us searching for the falls and which group would be able to find the water source first to fend off the heat of the days as they passed.
The campers largely kept to their groups and explored what the farm had to offer. Activities offered included horse riding, shooting, hiking through the trails or the surrounding mountains and an organised day-trip to the Mutarazi Falls, Skywalk and Skyline. Aspiring riders had a choice of three, young energetic horses. These rides were supervised by qualified grooms, natives to the area, who walked alongside the horses assisting with commands and keeping conversation while on the horse explaining various techniques and horse care. This was comforting for an inexperienced rider such as myself. As time passed the groom slowly released the reigns handing over control to me, keeping careful watch, but allowing me to enjoy the newfound sensation atop the horse. Which is an exhilarating experience that I will never forget.
Nights became a time to regroup and a chance to bond with our fellow campers. The fire pits and braai stands were lit up each night and we all huddled close in search of warmth from the decreasing temperatures. Dinner was available at The Shack for sale or dependant on your package nonetheless many chose to braai the night away exchanging recipes. The inviting bonfire became a watering hole of sorts where we swapped stories, danced and allowed the music to guide us through the evening, playing well into the morning. Our differences in age, profession and purpose that brought us to Nyamazi evaporated as drinks were shared on the logs encircling the pit and cards were taken out and happily played on the stoney ground.
Time seemed to have come to a standstill during our time at Nyamazi Green as many of us forgot the different reasons as to why we had left the city and just immersed ourselves into the experience and became a family of sorts. Reality soon set in and our time at the camp came to a close. Individuals, then groups bid farewell to what we had called home for a few days and in the end it was only our group of four that remained. Early on a Tuesday morning we set off for what would be our next adventure in the Eastern Highlands but our time at Nyamazi would forever be in our hearts.
Images by Tamuka Nyoni and Nyamazi Greens
Copyright: Nzira Travel Magazine Issue 14