We spend the morning touring the Great Zimbabwe Historical Site, just a few miles from the Kyle View Resort. Here are the ruins of a great stone city and fortress, supposedly built by the ancestors of the Shona people around 1200 AD. At its peak, it comprised a city of 20,000 people and a vibrant economy based largely on cattle and trade. The surviving buildings are elaborate and there are remnants of sophisticated stone carving. The new name for the country was taken from this site.
|Very imposing ruins||We are entertained by school children|
We hike labouriously up the nearby granite kopjie (rocky hill) to find more stone walls, fortifications and traces of dwellings.
If you stand still and close your eyes, you can hear echoes down through the centuries: the chatter of the picanins (children) and the slap of bare feet running up and down the stone stairways, under the hot African sunshine.
From the top of the kopjie, there is a magnificent
view out over the surrounding countryside.
Unfortunately, we also get a magnificent view of an African
thunderstorm, coming across
|Kopjie||Steps up the kopjie|
|African thunderstorm||Shona village|
There is also a traditional Shona Village at Great Zimbabwe where we can look inside the rondavels and storage huts and we watch some traditional dancers who are putting on a performance under a tree. It is even more interesting to see the response from the visiting (black) school children. They are very excited by the music and the dancing and soon all are joining in. It gets to be quite a noisy crowd.
Leaving Great Zimbabwe, we set out for our next
destination, which is
We go to visit the Chipangali Wildlife Sanctuary.
This is not a game farm or a zoo, but rather a place where injured
or orphaned animals and birds are brought.
Some are rehabilitated and released into the wild, but others find
a permanent home. It is
a good opportunity to see some of the wild animals up close.
We see a big, lazy, old male lion, who gets tired of us gawking
at him so he sands up and pees on Susan!
We are standing in a passage-way, looking at some birds when a
door from outside opens and a fellow asks us if we would stand over
to one side. He comes in and
right behind him is a young black rhinoceros about the size of a
There are some vervet monkeys, which are entertaining to watch especially when they are doing extremely rude things to each other (or to themselves).
|Old lion resident at Chipingali||Lazy hyena|
|Black Rhinoceros||Pet black Rhino|
The roads are all two-lane blacktop, in good repair (better than most of ours) and everyone drives like a madman. The speed limit is 120 kph but if you drive that slowly other drivers take offence and flash their lights and hoot at you. We are doing 118 kph and are passed by a fully-loaded bus as if we are standing still!
A fully-loaded bus means that the roof rack is full too: bicycles, rolls of barbed wire, bundles of thatch, mattresses and furniture, bags of mealies, crates of chickens and everything in between! This would be considered an insecure load (not to mention overheight) in Canada.
An old "strip road" on the left
|Hippo eyes and noses||Kudu|
We start back towards the main gate along a smaller dirt track, thinking we arent going to see any of the big animals, when suddenly there is an elephant, about the size of our barn, crossing the road in front of us. I nearly wet myself! We stop to watch and then .....there is another one,....and another one! The one we saw first was the little one! We sit for 20 minutes, watching them feeding only 20 meters away, until they finally stroll off through the bush, ripping leaves off trees and stuffing them in their mouths as they go.
Once our adrenaline subsides, we drive on, saying that the only thing to top that would be to see a giraffe. In less than five minutes, there are two giraffes standing by the side of the road, munching on the tops of some trees! They condescend to let us watch them eat for a few minutes and then they amble slowly away into the bush.
We leave the park, sorry not to have seen any big cats, but we know they are elusive, and because it is the middle of the day, we figure they are all sleeping in the shade. The best time to see cats is early morning and in the evening. We are outside the park gates, heading for the main highway, when we see two safari trucks full of tourists sitting one on either side of the road. I dont think anything of it, just concentrate on manoeuvring between them, when all of a sudden, I ams gibbering and spluttering and trying to stop the car, all at the same time. In the grass, on the side of the road, are three female lions! When we left the park, we had put our cameras in the trunk, thinking that all the excitement was over for the day. We drive a mile up the road -- (it was not a mile, it was about 300 feet!!) to where we -- (thats the royal we) -- figure it is be safe to get out of the car (I dont know why we think there wouldn’t be lions there, too) and drive back to take pictures. Then, on the other side of the road, there appears an enormous male lion with a couple of young ones. He comes bounding over, gets the females up and moving away from us. He doesnt leave right away, himself, but just melts into the bush and stays there watching us until the rest of his family gets far away. Speaking of adrenaline!
|Lions in the grass||Standing guard|
We dont see a leopard or a cheetah because they are very shy, but we did extremely well seeing as many Animals as we did in the relatively short time we spent in the park. It would have been nice to see some buffalo, though.
|The Baobab Hotel sits on top of this hill|
|The elegant Baobab Hotel||Susan under a baobab tree|