Orchids, orchids

16 04 2014

The Zimbabwe Orchid Society had their autumn show on the weekend. As usual it was a profusion of colour and fascinating flowers. I was told that a lot of what was on display was not of competition quality but was there for the show. Still, it was quite a show. This is quite a small selection of what was there.

Gorongosa National Park

20 07 2010

Gorongosa National Park in central Mozambique was one of the first national parks I ever saw as a child. I am not sure if I remember much about it as a 6 year-old or I remember the photos. It was famous for its lions that used a derelict camp on the edge of a flood plain as a vantage point, climbing onto the flat roof for a better view (presumably). Most of the game was shot out during Mozambique’s protracted civil war and last time I visited the main camp the bullet holes were still clearly visible on the buildings. They are still there if you look around but this last weekend we were more interested in getting into the park and anyway, the main camp is a bright, clean shadow of its former self!

We were not disappointed. A lion too pigged-out on warthog to move lay less than 5m from the road and a gaggle of hissing, squabbling vultures devoured the remains of the warthog not 20m further along the track. Bushbuck and warthog were in abundance (a lack of predators perhaps?) and lots of waterbuck and impala dotted the floodplain near the famous “lion camp” though the roof of the latter was no longer accessible to anyone except perhaps equipped with a ladder. We spotted some truly massive crocs in the rivers and pelicans and crowned cranes waded in the water holes and flood plain. We also spotted a rare (for this park) Cape buffalo and some massive leguaans (water monitor lizards). The weather was ideal for the park which can be oppressive in summer and nights were cold and refreshing. A long drive for a weekend but well worthwhile!

Driving back to Harare yesterday afternoon I had plenty of time to ponder the differences between Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Mozambique is populated, heavily populated at least along the road. The Zimbabwe countryside is by contrast visibly empty, the result of more than a decade of willful destruction of the farming sector. Mozambique is grubby – ┬áthis impression is not helped by the Portuguese architecture which was predominantly a love affair with concrete. And there is rubbish everywhere. Mozambique almost certainly has a bigger economy than Zimbabwe but it seems poorer – the people one sees in Zimbabwean towns appear more wealthy and are better dressed (which is odd).