After a visit to Mutare to spend time with my dearest friend Bronwen, much peri peri chicken and wine at the Portuguese club, and much talk of art, and life….I returned home to Senuko for a few days, caught up with Jade and Rayne, darling girls, and then bounced back to Harare, for Clive to attend rhino security meetings on behalf of the Save Valley Conservancy. in Harare I finalised the layout of posters for Taste of Africa- our fundraising event for African wild dogs in conjunction with Painted Wolf Wines – due to happen at the Mukuvisi Woodlands 29th June- could be a difficult date since Zimbabwe’s harmonised elections are said to happening then……but I have a feeling that elections will happen at a later date.
Below is the gorgeous poster which Printworks will kindly print to advertise the event……..
Exciting news…On 11th April, Clive and I arrived in Gonarezhou National Park to help John Laing and the crew from Chilo Gorge Lodge to set up a bush camp at Chilojo Cliffs for some Australian/Zimbabwean guests. A stunning site, tents nestled unobtrusively on the edge of the Runde River, with views of the magnificent Chilojo Cliffs…
Yesterday all was looking welcoming, tents made up, pillows plump on the thick mattressed beds, showers erected, kitchen set up with Chef Peter heating chicken pieces and pastries for lunch over the glowing fire, on the side of which stood a huge milk churn, put to good use as a boiler for heating water to fill the hanging bucket showers for the guests…
Astonished delight was painted on the faces of the guests when they arrived with professional guide Thomas Mutombeni – a much more luxurious and scenic camp than they had expected….with hippo tracks leading to spectacular views of the cliffs
The game drive we did yesterday afternoon through the Runde River valley, was incredibly productive-
our sightings included numerous gentle young bull elephants, one munching on the leaves of a Lonchcarpus tree .who became the subject of intense photography sessions…
We were delighted to observe so much more during that afternoon:
Lone wildebeeste bulls scattered at discreet intervals throughout the valley…..
Impala rams, entering into their season of rut, snorting and tossing their elegant heads, clashing horns against each other serious intent to do damage to their rivals in love, while the vast herds of females stood demurely aside to observe the tussles….
Dark chocolate Nyala bulls, fringed legs and kingly bearing, and the treat of seeing the usually shy females, their red flanks lushly dripped with white stripes, accompanied by a tiny fawn.
Waterbuck ladies with their young, looking like fuzzy teddy bears, and a full-horned waterbuck bull anxiously watching over them…..
A diminutive russet Sharpe’s grysbok, all of one foot tall, bounding through the yellow grass. The delightful name Changana name is Xpwitsipwitsi !….
A river of impala does streaming and leaping across the road in front of us, exquisite in the golden afternoon light….
Warthog mum and babies….
A perfect lion paw print in hard mud……
Many many kudu cows, accompanied by spiral- horned bulls all walking stiffly and posturing to rival bulls with thick necks and attitude- all in the name of love…..
A water-splattered bull elephant who loomed hugely over our vehicle as we passed through a gully before him, shaking his giant ears at us and telling us to move out of his way. ( We obeyed….! )
Dinner under the stars was chunky mushroom soup followed by beef curry, with the Chilojo Cliffs as a perfect stage-set backdrop, and Painted Wolf Shiraz glowing ruby-red in our glasses, to round off a satisfying day. David, an Australian from Melbourne who favours Shiraz wines, accompanied in the photo by his step daughter Ruvarashe, was extremely impressed with this Painted Wolf nectar!
Today, 12th April, is a crisp morning after a windy night- the dome tents have squatted happily in the gusts which roared through our camp, while we lay tucked securely inside. A safe, warm cocooned feeling!
An early breakfast of sausage and egg, accompanied by mugs of fresh-brewed La Lucie coffee, and the game drive is off on another adventure, to the top of the Chilojo Cliffs.
I stay in camp, lying on my bed with a view of the cliffs through the gauze door,to catch up on diarising and planning to start a painting of the cliffs -I can not resist trying to capture the glow of those soft bands of pink and yellow sandstone ….
Wow! A huge baboon has just galloped past my tent as I write, clutching a piece of our breakfast toast and hotly pursued by Victor….maitre ‘d of camp and brave baboon-chaser! The baboons, endlessly entertaining as they are to watch in the wild, are nevertheless great opportunists and thieves when it comes to unguarded food. They are not welcome around camp !