The Ivory Trail, following in the footsteps of giants….

Starting from Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge on a cool morning in May,

Clive and I, plus the Chilo camp team of Victor, Richard and Chef Peter Chisasa, depart for the south of Gonarezhou, passing the gorgeous Chilojo Cliffs..

fording the still-full and  challenging Runde river en route

(with just a little help from the Gonarezhou Parks Tractor…!)

En route I discover wonderful varieties of flowers and we spend a night at gorgeous Centre Pan, still unusually full of water due to our extraordinary rainy season…

In the deep grandeur and solitude of an African Sunrise,

(even though I collect voracious leeches on my legs as I stand in the water to take this photo!), we decide that this will be a special place to bring our guests on the return route…

Departing Centre Pan, our route is graced with the autumn/winter colors of the bush,

a slinky cheetah…

and numerous dazzling Golden orb spiders, whose sparkling stands of web lace the trees…here is a female with her food cache, (and if you look close you can see her attendant tiny male bottom left..!!)

We are planning to meet our special fly-in guests at Mbalauta shortly, for a tented camp adventure..The Ivory Trail!

a legendary trail of Baobabs and Elephants..

Greeted by gentle wild things, we set up camp with the Chilo staff at Rossi Pools

a spectacular camp site set on a cliff of rock and aloes overlooking the Mwenezi River…

Peepholes …from a rock hyraxes viewpoint…


I contemplate the new day….today Clive is due to pick up the guests from the Mbalauta airstrip..

Staff are excited by new horizons…new adventures…

and prepare the dome tents for the guests


little finishing touches…

Clive collects the guests- dear friends Garth Thompson and the Foremans, with whom we share a night at Rossi Pools then start The Ivory Trail in earnest…

exploring the unique Mwenezi River potholes and waterfalls…

rock landscapes constantly catch my eye


and spectacular lichens abound…I feel a painting growing in my head…

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Moving onwards, Centre pan is home for the next two nights of our safari, and I am honoured to share this special place with legendary guides Garth Thompson and Clive Stockil…

together with dear friends the Foremans…

We tuck ourselves into cosy tents each night…

surrounded by the flowers and stunning colours of autumn…

Homemade lemon curd on toast starts the day at Centre Pan…

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(spot the kitchen tent and supply vehicle tucked away unobtrusively….)

After breakfast I stay in camp while Clive and Garth take the Foremans exploring. I sketch the scene with my favorite old stick, acrylic and left over filter coffee. (Strong the way Garth likes it, this la Lucie coffee is perfect for sketching!)

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the finished sketch…

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On to the next adventure, Clive picks up his hat….

(What would he do without it?!)

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Staff bid farewell to Centre pan…

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and load up their vehicle for the trip to the Runde River…

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En route …..


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we are greeted in stately fashion by this gentle giant….

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Next destination, Director’s Camp on the Runde River, where we find that our intrepid staff have already set up a dining area…

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and a kitchen…

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Gorgeous late afternoon light shines on the newly minted camp..

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what a site!

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Garth finds special time to read and ponder the pink cliffs..




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I find endless colors and inspiration …looking up at our camp on the bank..

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and down over the wide sands of the Runde River as the sun lowers…

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reflecting the golden cliffs in the waters of the Runde…

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The next morning brings mist and atmosphere for breakfast…

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plenty more filter coffee…

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and blankets are necessary for the morning drive…

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I happily stay in camp…

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and begin an early morning sketch of those cliffs that endlessly intrigue me..

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elephants are always somewhere in the picture at the cliffs…

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The evening brings a stunning, surreal full moon rising over the cliffs, a quarter bite out of it as it hovers against the jagged edge of the cliff profile…a wonderful night followed by another very chilly morning..

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What a space for a few days rest..just us and the elephants..

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(strangely now that I have finished the cliff painting, I notice that I have a “moon” watermark in exactly the same place as the moon rose that night!)

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Next part of the Ivory Trail…On to Mahove Camp further down the Runde River…

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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.
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1 Response to The Ivory Trail, following in the footsteps of giants….

  1. Fiona says:

    Thank you for covering this special place on earth. I hope it stays that way.

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