Two nights at Hippo Pools

29 12 2018

The Hippo Pools wilderness area is in the Umfurudzi National Park some 140km north east of Harare. Located on the banks of the Mazowe River it is hot and humid in summer. That did not deter my brother and I and apparently enough other people to ensure the lodges and chalets were full (I would guess the camp site was one third full) so we managed to book a permanent tent and settled for “glamping”. It suited our purposes fine and we followed the standard practice of game drives in the early morning and evening and just dozing during the heat of the day.

The road from Harare is fine until the mining town of Shamva then has some very bad stretches until the turnoff into the park at Madziwa Mine which appears derelict. Then one has to slow down. It’s still passable to passenger cars but once in the wilderness area the roads preclude low clearance vehicle. For the energetic that’s not an issue as the area has no dangerous animals (apart from crocodiles and hippos) and walking and cycling is encouraged. At this time of year the horse flies are a problem to the extent that we had the windows up and air-conditioning on to keep them out but once we got out the blood-letting started. They were absent from the camp region.

We enjoyed our time there even though I feel certain areas could be improved. For the hard core game watcher there are better parks but they are further away from Harare so this one is convenient. Would I go back? Probably, but not in summer.

Glamping = glamorous camping


Negotiating the fine

22 05 2012

“You stopped but were over the line” the traffic policeman said having pulled me over.

“What line?”, I retorted knowing full well where the line was. “If there is a line it is very badly marked” which was also true.

“Get out of the car and we will walk back and I will show you” he answered.

“I don’t walk” I said, holding up my walking stick. “But if you get in we can drive back and have a look”.

He pondered this new approach for a moment and then saw the biltong on the seat of the Landcruiser. “Ah, I am going to enjoy some chimkuyu” he commented using the Shona word for the biltong. Biltong for those who don’t live in southern Africa is a spicy dried meat cut into sticks. Gary’s son Stuart had given me some that they’d cured from a wildebees that he’d shot the previous week in the Humani Ranch area of the Save Conservancy in the Save Valley of Zimbabwe. From the policeman’s comments I now knew that the whole “fine” was open to negotiation.

“Have you got change for my $50?” he asked holding up the note. Now I knew I could likely get away with the not stopping behind the white line at the stop street on The Chase and College Road. I scratched through my stash of small notes and found the requisite amount.

“You’d better count it” I said handing it over and taking the proffered $50 note. He counted it slowly and getting to the end said “How much do you want to pay for the fine?”.

“Nothing” I replied. “Your line is very badly marked”. The line marking probably wouldn’t have stood up in court but we both knew that neither of us wanted to take it that far.

“How about some chimkuyu?” he hinted.

I reached over to the bag and extracted the smallest stick I could find.

“But there are three of us” he said, trying another angle.

“Well, cut it up then” I said as he surreptitiously pocketed it. Then he waved me on.