Mahenye Sand Forest; Secret Paths and Millipedes; Special Birds and Botany

A trip to the Mahenye Sand Forest from Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge in the rainy season is a voyage of discovery….

First comes the ride through the Mahenye Village, a haven of big trees, hand painted huts and friendly faces…

Mahenye village children...

Mahenye village children… collecting water


This Mohawk-adorned cattle herder has great charisma…as do his gorgeous spotted beasts!

cattle herder and his Nguni cattle...

cattle herder and his Nguni cattle…


Stopping frequently, VERY frequently…along the way, as is the habit of master botanists Bart Wurstens and Petra Ballings,  we learn about  stunning scarlet  longipedunculta flowers…

Bart and longipedunculata

Bart and longipedunculata


Thomas Mutombeni and Bart discuss the Cleome genus, while a tiny chameleon becomes the  shy centre of paparrazzi attention…

cleome, chameleon, Thomas and Bart...

cleome, chameleon, Thomas and Bart…


Clive gets a lesson in Hibiscuses…..

Clive gets a lesson in hibiscuses from Bart....

Clive gets a lesson in hibiscuses from Bart….


Entering the Sand Forest, emerald-shrouded pathways lead ever deeper into the enticing scenery and I feel like I am walking through a fairy tale of the best kind, bright butterfly wings, beetles and millipedes decorating the way, birdsong and shafts of sunlight filtering through the impossibly green leaves…

the secret path in the sand forest

the secret path in the sand forest

and all enhanced by the possibility of sighting or at least hearing  a long-tailed forest bird which is one of southern Africa’s most spectacular species, a  Narina trogon, with bright green body and crimson breast….

Narina trogon -photograph by Neil Gray

Narina trogon -photograph by Neil Gray


Millipedes of every variety….

gorgeous green millipede

gorgeous green millipede


and here is a very fat, rolled millipede, who, if you look closely, has his own set of tiny hitch-hiker lice ……!

fat millipede and hitchhikers...

fat millipede and hitchhikers…


Passing a tree trunk, I am distracted by a tiny mollusc….

interesting little snail in the sand forest

interesting little snail in the sand forest


which, in turn, leads me down a side path to an ancient baobab, where are the recent pegs and ancient peg marks of  honey-gatherers adorning the pitted grey trunk of the tree. What stories this tree could tell of the last few hundred years and more….a treasure trove of fables, moral tales and fairy stories!

Pegs and giant land snail

Pegs and giant land snail

Maybe this Giant land snail, sheltering in a peg hole, is plugged into some of those stories that are whispered in those peg holes….

Giant land snail in peg hole on baobab trunk...

Giant land snail in peg hole on baobab trunk…


Our fascinated way leads us past many funky fungi………

funky fungi

funky fungi

and down enchanting pathways, onto the GREAT tree…a Xanthocercis zambesiaca, common name Nyala Berry, which dwarves Bart and Petra…

Xanthocercis zambesiaca, with Bart and Petra

Xanthocercis zambesiaca, with  beetle, Bart and Petra…


so many special birds abound here, often shy, heard but not seen, but no less the fascinating for happy birders….jungle dwellers such as Green Coucal, Narina trogon, Gorgeous bush shrike, Red throated Twinspot, Scaly throated honey guide, Chestnut fronted helmut shrike, Southern banded snake eagle, African broadbill….the list goes on!

Petra Ballings has created a stunning collection of images of Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge


Petra and chameleon

Petra and chameleon



About wineandwilddogs

Lin Barrie The Save Valley Conservancy stretches along the upper reaches of the great Save River in the south east of Zimbabwe. The Gonarezhou National Park laps against the southern banks of the Save River and between these two nestles the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. These three celebrated wildlife areas form part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, (GLTFCA)- a unique wilderness jewel which is home to the “Big Five” (endangered Black and White rhinos, elephants, buffalo, lion, leopard) and the ”Little Six” (Klipspringer, Suni, Duiker, Steenbok, Sharpe's Grysbok and Oribi). Endangered African wild dogs, Cheetah, Brown hyena, Bat-eared foxes and a host of special birds and plants contribute to the immense variety of this ecosystem. Communities around the GLTFCA contribute to innovative partnerships with National Parks and the private sector, forming a sound base on which to manage social, economic and environmental issues. This is home to artist and writer Lin Barrie and her life partner, conservationist Clive Stockil. Expressing her hopes, fears and love for this special ecosystem with oil paints on canvas, Lin Barrie believes that the essence of a landscape, person or animal, can only truly be captured by direct observation. Lin Barrie states: “Through my art, and my writing, I feel an intimate connection with the natural world, and from my extensive field sketches of wild animals, people and landscapes, I create larger works on canvas. Lin's work is in various public and private collections in South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Australia, England, Canada, Sweden and the United States of America. She is represented by galleries in South Africa, Zimbabwe, England, Kenya and Florida, USA.
This entry was posted in Africa, African flora, African Safari, african wildlife, beauty, birding, birds, Chilo Gorge, community conservation, conservation, culture, eco-tourism, education, flowers, great limpopo transfrontier conservation Area, Honey gatherers, Hunter gatherers, insects, landscape, molluscs, Nguni cattle, photography, reptiles, safari, sharing, slow food, Uncategorized, wilderness, zimbabwe and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.