footprints

TIPTOES: Nswatugi Cave

According to local mythology Mwari/Mwali (God) leapt over the top of Nswatugi Hill from his home at Njelele Mountain, before landing on Khalanyoni Hill – the name Nswatugi translates to “the place of jumping”. The cave’s entrance is six metres wide, with the cavern extending fourteen metres into the hill. Nswatugi Cave is famed for its colourful rock art, featuring elephant, giraffe, kudu, zebra and even humans in sleeping and hunting positions. The paintings were created by the hunter-gather ancestors of Botswana’s San people. Various antelope, a sable head and two ovoids can be seen at the front.

TIPTOES: Kazuma Pan National Park

Access is via 4 WD vehicles only, and the park is only open between March and December. Covering over 30,000 hectares, this is a remote and very wild part of Zimbabwe. Campers need to be completely self-sufficent as only water is available. There are two basic campsites – Katsetheti and Insiza – with bush toilets and braai areas. Each camp can accommodate up to ten people. Insiza overlooks the Kamuza Depression, and Kasetsheti is near natural springs.

TIPTOES: Mumurgwe Hill, Lion’s Head Dam

Lion's Head Dam is approximately 55km from the Enterprise Road/Harare Drive intersection. Turn left after the toll gate on the Enterprise Road and continue on past Bally Vaughan. The road is in excellent condition. The dam is on the right and is visible for a few kilometres before the entrance which is signposted on the right. 
There is a nominal gate entry fee per person and a few lovely little picnic spots around the edge of the dam near the dam wall. The dam was constructed by a syndicate and completed in 1995, and offers decent fishing for anglers.
Visitors can explore the area around the dam walls and see a series of colourful rock paintings a short hike across the road. Four fish and a yellow kudu cow with faded legs feature on the southernmost boulder near a group of faded hunters. Further along is metre-long buffalo with two yellow ochre kudu cows superimposed on its torso. On the right is a melee of human and animal images including sable and kudu.
Norman the caretaker is very friendly and knowledgeable about the area and very excited to have visitors. 

For Molly.

Molly was an African elephant calf. She was born in the south of Zimbabwe – the Lowveld. In September 2017 she lost her mother when she was just six months old; not to poachers, but in a hunting “accident”. Her mother apparently charged a hunting party to protect her calf. The “professional hunter” (PH), who was tracking a wounded wildebeest, believing his group to be in danger, shot Molly’s mother. As he was not hunting elephant he did not have the correct weapon, so one can only imagine how long it took him to kill her.

African Art At Alo Alo

Harare restaurant Alo Alo is hosting an exhibition of Zimbabwe artist Lin Barrie’s excellent paintings. The exhibition runs to the end of October. This is part of the “Best of Zimbabwe” initiative by Gordon Addams, to promote Zimbabwe’s wonderful tourism destinations. We visited the restaurant today, and the combination of Lin’s art in Alo Alo’s stunning garden and delicious lunchtime aromas wafting from the kitchen made for a wonderful sensory overload!

MIRACLES: ZIMBABWE ON A BUDGET

Mention to the chattering classes in leafy Surrey that your holiday destination is Zimbabwe and a stunned silence ensues. The Cote D’Azure? The Costa del Sol? Sure. Zimbabwe? Really? But with a husband working in Southern Africa and a 4×4 on standby, I found myself at London’s Heathrow Airport, thirteen and nine year old sons in tow, contemplating a two week budget self-drive itinerary through Mana Pools, Lake Kariba, Victoria Falls, Hwange and Matopos.

WRITING FOR WILDLIFE

Roxy Dankwerts’ animal sanctuary outside Harare is home to a variety of orphaned and injured animals. Notable residents include Noodle the wildebeest, Pickles the Warthog, Missy the Giraffe, Joe the lion and Marimba the pangolin. There are other lions and giraffe, as well as impala, kudu, sable, monkeys, baboons and a couple of cheetah.

HISTORY: HERBERT G ROBINS, LONER AND VISIONARY

Sitting on the veranda of the restaurant at Sinamatella Camp in Hwange National Park it is difficult to ignore the silence of the landscape. Beneath us, the great sweep of open bush stretches far into the blue haze of the distance. A dry riverbed cuts through the land: earlier this morning lions were seen drinking from one of the tiny remaining pools of water, but they are long gone. The heat of the day is characterised by the sound of pods snapping open and the skittish movements of skinks through dead leaves and grass. Dassies play in the trees and on the rocks; otherwise, all is quiet. A scan of the area reveals nothing but a kite gliding slowly through the sky.