Friday, 28 December 2007

Nyanga-a majestic land of mountains and downs

At Nyazengu Nature Reserve, now open to the public

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Yes I am

Man this is iiinnsaaaaaaaaane!

Saturday, 15 September 2007

The 110 metre plunge awaits me. "oH my God I didn't expect it to feel like this, my knees are weak."


I decided to go Bungi Jumping at Victoria Falls and here I am reflecting on my insanity with a smile though.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Zimbabwe Remembers Bob Marley

Scores of reggae lovers thronged the Kebab Centre at the weekend in commemoration of the death of the legendary Robert Nester Marley, who passed away on May 11, 1981.

Marley is credited with bringing the Caribbean beat to the world’s attention, various shows were held around Harare.

The genre has since grown in leaps and bounds and it is only fitting that the man should be remembered especially for the fact that he came and performed at the country’s independence celebrations and penned a hit song called ‘Zimbabwe’.

The first show was held at The Kebab on Friday and it attracted almost a full house with revelers being entertained by the likes of Winky D, Sniper, Yagga and Daddy Distress among a host of other artists.

The concerts were organised by the effervescent Trevor Hall, popularly known as Ras Jabulani, with the weekend proving to be a good one for the followers of reggae and dancehall.

Harare Gardens played host to Saturday’s family show were the focus was more on bands with live instruments and the Crucial Mix band doing most of the instrumentals for the artists who performed.

“There was a real nice dancehall feeling and I must say big up to all the artists who came to perform and to Crucial Mix for their work on the instruments. The Kebab was live and exciting so were the gardens but it was unfortunate that not all artists performed,” said Ras Jabu

He added that the commemorations are also an opportunity for the upcoming artists to get an opportunity on stage to market themselves. He singled out entertainers like Badman whom he said had serious potential because of his versatility and stage presence as well as Unity Vibes.

Ras Jabu moaned the lack of sponsorship for reggae and dancehall saying most promoters are keen to promote the likes of Macheso and company.

“Most sponsors are not attracted to dancehall because of the type of artists you find who are freer to speak out what they think but it is the nature of this genre, they are bound to denounce all the wrong they see in society yet sponsors see them as promoters of violence which is not the case,” he said.

The lack of sponsorship on the hand has seen the growth of ghetto dances which in turn has actually made the general dancehall community grow and if sponsorship was to be made available the genre would further grow in Zimbabwe.

“We should not be Eurocentric in our thinking but Afro centric, people should accept dancehall since it is the way the youths are expressing themselves, their influences and experiences,” he said.

The final commemoration gig was held at Sports Diner were Crucial Mix was the focal point since they had not managed to perform because they were mostly backing fellow artists in the previous shows.

Bob Marley’s spirit still lives 26 years on.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Gorge Swing

Apart from the Victoria Falls, the wide selection of activities available to the tourist has been a major reason the resort town blessed with “the smoke that thunders” has been such a draw card.

From abseiling to the Zip Line, adrenaline pumping activities to the laid back sunset cruises all make the “adventure capital of the world” a must on any itinerary.

One such activity that has got most people, who have tried it, sweating and asking themselves if they are insane, is the gorge swing.

Insanity or an insatiable appetite for adventure aptly describes this swing. Offered by Wild Horizons the gorge swing is a combination of a 70 metre drop and a 95 metre swing that will surprisingly get you asking for more.

The setting is Batoka gorge, a massive ravine that is even more impressive with the flooded Zambezi River. I tried it out recently and what a feeling it was.

On yet another hot sunny day in Victoria Falls I made my way to the gorge just after lunch with the man responsible for my “downfall” Dumisani Nkomo.

With the platform built 120 metres above the Zambezi imagining jumping off it can make one change his or her mind about doing the gorge swing.

Unlike the Bungi Jump where you are tied around the ankles and you end up free falling head down, at 120 kilometres an hour, the gorge swing is very different but still just as awesome.

You are harnessed around the waist and your cord is attached to four ropes that stretch across the gorge. There are two dynamic ropes with 10 percent stretch and two semi-static ropes with 15 percent stretch. Your cord will also have a support attachment meaning if the original attachment snaps you will have cover.

All these safety precautions have over the years ensured an injury free gorge swing for all that have tried it.

“You must be crazy doing this, even I haven’t tried doing it and I hope I’m fastening you in the proper manner,” said Dumisani.

It is their way of trying to have a laugh to break the monotony of carrying out one swing after another.

His humour didn’t help much, standing there with sweaty palms, a queasy stomach and shaking knees I was trying to convince myself that it was not scary, after all I’ve bungi jumped twice.

All the formalities concluded I was told of the many ways one can jump, arms and legs spread like bird, head back to the gorge but I preferred holding on to the ropes and simply walk off.

In no time I was hurtling down the gorge, free falling for 70 metres before the rope got hold of me and I was swinging 95 metres across the gorge adrenaline pumping.

After all that, one can dangle for a couple of minutes while taking in the beauty of the Batoka gorge and its cool environs before being pulled up. You will want to do it again surprisingly.

After such a “life threatening experience” nothing beats a mellow and laid back sunset cruise offered by Python Safaris.

Python Safaris is a relatively young tour company that recently acquired Inyathi Campsite and has an array of activities on offer which include canoeing and rafting among others.

The sunset cruise was a two hour experience filled with game sightings that included an elephant that swam across the Zambezi.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Matesti River Lodge

Zimbabwe woke up to the news that one of its prime tourist resorts, Matesti River Lodge, owned by Conservation Corporation Africa (CCAfrica), located in Kazungula, Victoria Falls was attacked by armed robbers who got away with Us$8000, laptops, cellphones, food, blankets and jewellery.

It was a slap in the face for all those people working their butts of to help Zimbabwe remove the bad image it has around the globe. The assailants are allegedly Zambian and if that is proved true then it's about time the responsible authorities did something about this.

Zimbabwe has always had problems with Zambian poachers ask the powers that be at Hwange , Chizarira , Matusadonha National Parks and other wildlife blessed areas in Zimbabwe which are in the Zambezi Valley.

It's also reported that this is the second time that the lodge has been attacked in the last two or three years. I guess the security was caught napping. The question is:What could Matesti do?answer:Increase security personnel? maybe but who would want to go holidaying at resort that resembles a fort? not me that's for sure.

It's a catch 22 and I hope the perpetrators are brought to book and thank God no life was lost because that's what matters at the end of the day.

Matesti River Lodge is an exquisite establishment that charms every visitor that comes and I hope this does not severely harm their business.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Mare Dam Lodges

BY Costa Mano

Famed for its delicious trout fish, Nyanga is a haven for those escaping the hustle and bustle of the city life and in its serenity are the Mare Dame Lodges.

The lodges are found at the Nyanga National Park, 267 kilometres east of Harare.

Sixteen unique Lodges offer the perfect base to stay while discovering the wonders of Nyanga. Each of the lodge has two bedrooms, bathroom, spacious lounge with fire place and a brilliant view of the “queen” of Nyanga’s dams, Mare Dam.

These are self-catering lodges with basic amenities available offering that home away from home thrill.

The classic Dover stove gives the kitchen a nostalgic air of the days gone by. Electric stoves are available for those who do not fancy old style cooking.

The reservoir was formed after the damming of Mare River. Mare Dam is located within close proximity to two other dams, Purdon and Gulliver as well as Mount Inyangani - the highest point in Zimbabwe, Trout Hatchery, Old Forts and historic pit structures and the Rhodes Museum.

The most popular activity at Mare is trout fishing. The dam is filled with trout offering an easy challenge to all fishermen. Visitors can also catch easy prey at the Trout Hatchery ponds.

Boating is another popular activity at Mare with boats being hired at the tourist office. Holiday makers can either paddle themselves crazy at Mare or Gulliver.

Another way of discovering the therapeutic beauty of Nyanga is by hiking on the rather challenging terrain.

There are also historical visits to war time forts dotted around the area, pit structures and Rhodes Museum.

Visitors can go on game drives and see Nyanga’s wildlife which includes Waterbuck, Wildebeest (Gnu), Impala, Blue Duiker, Warthogs among a varied choice.

Even just relaxing in your lodge with a good book is quite a calming experience.

The lodges are owned by the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and run by Guinewine Investments, a registered tour company.


wilderness gem

By Costa Mano

Far off the beaten track hidden in the rich wilderness of Save Valley Conservancy, is a gem that has not been that much explored.

Set on 23 000 acres of pristine and unspoilt wilderness, this is a reclusive bush camp exuding contemporary safari elegance with quality accommodation and fare.

Chishakwe Ranch is the bush retreat offering inspiring photographic safari.

Forming part of the world famed Save Valley Conservancy the business at Chishakwe is primarily one of conservation with programmes already running on conservation awareness to help the local community.

“We believe every animal is endangered and it is not about one particular animal that is why we are working on community education so as to build a reciprocal relationship, they help us we, help them,” said Lisa Jane Campbell, one of the directors.

Covering nearly one million acres, the Conservancy comprises a wide range of diverse habitat types, as well as harbouring an extraordinary variety of plant, mammal and bird species. Some of these species are indigenous to Zimbabwe's lowveld and some are among the most endangered animal species in the world.

The conservancy was formed after drought stricken farmers who had witnessed their cattle die due to famine decided to bring down their fences and bring in wildlife which was more suited to the environment. The Conservancy was also created to safeguard the unique ecosystem that surrounds the slow-flowing watercourse of Zimbabwe's second largest river, The Save.

Run by a man who is passionate about conservation, Nick Greeff and his wife Sarah, Chishakwe is steeped in fertile history dating to pre-colonial days with the impressive two houses from the first European settlement still standing bold as ever.

The area also boasts of Bushman paintings as well as remains of tribal villages and graves.

Chishakwe is a unique ranch in that its vegetation is more varied than some of the Ranches in the conservancy. The northeastern corner, where a game drive gave us the opportunity to see a shy yet curious group of cheetah, is mopani woodland. The south west has the open acacia with mountain acacia to the west.

This has made the ranch a popular haven with diverse wildlife which includes Giraffe, warthogs, elephant, lion, buffalo, impala, water buck and kudu among a host of other species.

Apart from game drives the ranch has a spectacular dam reminiscent of the evocative serenity of Lake Kariba’s tree stumps which still stand in relative peace. Canoeing, boating and fishing are some the activities to do on this dam and I was quite unfortunate to have missed out on crocodile night spotting due to rain.

The air at Chishakwe is quite laid back and relaxing with time for siestas even. To top it off is a special outing to Moon Rock were you can see the moon rise and sunset while chewing on flavourful biltong or a picnic at The Big Tree which is said to be between 2 000 to 3 000 years old.

The Ranch’s camp is located on the bank of and overlooking the Msaize River. The ascetic camp is a little oasis of tranquility where visitors can spend the day lounging at the bar area or cooling down in the pool under the heat of the lowveld.

The camp has 10 beds and full catering, Chishakwe still maintains a sophisticated ruggedness which is quite charming.

The five lodgings have two single beds with ensuite bathrooms crafted with reeds and ingenious light switches. The camp is themed around artistic, innovative d├ęcor and the Ranch’s souvenir shop gives the guest an opportunity to take home that which would have captured their imagination.

After a long day out and about the bush, relaxing around a bonfire and relating stories of the day is something to look forward to. The bonfire, sound of a flowing Msaize River below punctuated by the calls from the wild and the glistening stars above make such a setting thrilling.

“Beautiful and exclusive, Chishakwe offers a unique bush experience. The Big Five have their place here amongst an amazing variety of animal and plant life…whether you want an active and adventurous break from your routine or just a relaxing get away, Chishakwe offers it all,” said Nick.