Posts Tagged ‘Taita Falcon’

Hi all

We are nearly done.  You must be exhausted by now.  We certainly were !

AJS and I got back to Harare quite late in the afternoon of the 21st of September.

The next day we went shopping for beer and water.  Daz arrived at about 13h00 and we set off northwards, in his Honda CRV, on the Bindura road and turning left just after Mazowe headed to and beyond Centenary towards Muzarabani.  In the Zambezi Escarpment we stopped at the Mavuradonha Wilderness headquarters and quickly settled into our accommodation.

Mavuradonha Wilderness Basha

Simple Basha Accommodation

This camp is all about eco-tourism and is a Campfire Project.  Campfire is an acronym for Communal Areas Managment Program For Indigenous Resources. Zimbabwe’s CAMPFIRE programme is widely regarded as one of Africa’s most successful conservation initiatives. It permits the residents of communal lands—basically poor, black people—to share in the benefits generated by wildlife utilization on those lands. Despite its achievements the programme still faces challenges. In particular where the of households in CAMPFIRE areas are focusing on land uses that are incompatible with wildlife and increased livestock numbers.   Ah well – they made a few bucks out of us.

What on earth were we doing there 300 km north of Harare ?  Simple really.  About 20 years ago I had been birding up there and remembered a place of great beauty.  So about 5 years ago I took AJS there. And we got lostish, without enough water, so we abandoned our attempt. That situation could not be allowed to prevail.  So back we went.

We had a few hours to kill so we started off by going to Sowe Falls.

Mavuradonha Wilderness Sowe Falls

Sowe Falls

Obviously September is the dry season so there was very little water. In the wet season we could not have been where we were !

Sowe Falls Mavuradonha Wilderness

Daz takes a dip

Mavuradonha Wilderness Sowe Falls

Sowe View

The view from the falls is great.

We spent a very pleasant evening in camp. Daz did dinner for us and we all slept very well.  Now for the big one – Eagles Crag !

It’s a long way up to the top of the mountain.

Eagles Crag Mavuradonha Wilderness

On the way up

We had to keep reminding ourselves to stop and look back at the changing view as we ascended.  It too us an hour and a half to climb to the very top…………………….

Eagles Crag Mavuradonha Wilderness

Musengezi View

Wow !!   That is the Musengezi River down there.  A long way down there !

Eagles Crag Mavuradonha Wilderness

The haze was disapointing

Of course it is hazy in September.  We always knew that.  It is still a fantastic place to be – Eagles Crag.

Eagles Crag Mavuradonha Wilderness Musengezi River

Another tick in the Bucket List

AJS was well pleased !  We are about 900 metres above the river. I have seen Black Storks from here and a very nice Black Kite flew past at about 20 metres whilst we were there and I have been told that Taita Falcon live in this gorge.

Cahora Bassa Mocambique Mavuradonha Wilderness

The Cahora Bassa viewing point

Again the haze was the problem but from here, on clear day, One can see the western extremities of the huge Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique. I know ‘cos I saw it when I was first here.

After about an hour gawping at the views we went back down the mountain – much easier when gravity is on your side – in about forty minutes.  Straight back to camp, packed up and drove back to Harare.

A quiet evening followed by a morning showing AJS the difference in our shops since he was last here in 2008 followed by a fantastic lunch at Harare’s well known Allo Allo  restaurant then off to the airport where I deposited AJS to catch his flight to Jo’burg and onward to London.

The marathon was over.  It was brilliant !  Thank you AJ the Elder – we are indebted forever.

Cheers all

Thanks for listening and looking.  I will be back sooner than you think with yet another very different little excursion.

Tony

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Hi all

The last time I left you we were just out of Lupane having visited the Allan Wilson Memorial.  And we were heading North.

Back to Hwange National Park’s Main Camp!    We were to meet up with two other travellers – delightful ladies – CvC and CH.

We had a delightful dinner – thanks GJW – and slept like logs.   Getting up early the next day we all went out to “track down” that special bird from my previous visit to Hwange in July.

Yellow Morph Crimson-breasted Shrike

Rare Yellow Morph Crimson-breasted Shrike

And find them we did !!

The two girls are mad keen photographers and had a wonderful time.

After breakfast we packed up and departed but now GJW had a seat in CvC’s Toyota Prado.  Northwards again !  But not very far, to what is locally known as Crossroads, which is the Dete/Kamativi turn off.  Re-fuelled there and turned right going north-east towards Kamativi.

Kamativi Tin Mine Road

North Eastward

Before reaching Kamativi we turned right again and now had some distance to cover on the road to Binga.

Once out of the escarpment and into inhabited Communal Land we came across some signs of commercial activity.

Traditional axe

For sale……

Yes I did buy one.  Seven dollars.  Good value if I don’t break it !

About 20km before Binga one comes to what is called the Siabuwa Fly Gate, a reference to the control of the Tsetse fly (Genus Glossina).  As an aside Zimbabwe has eight recorded cases of Trypanosomyasis this year !! Scary.  The gate appears to be defunct now because I saw no sign of it.  Anyway we turned right and set of going directly East.  The road conditions changed somewhat too.

Gravel Road

Somewhat worse !

This prevailed for the best part of two hours before we turned onto a very much worse road and slowly made our way south.  We could soon see that we had a bit of a challenge in front of us……………

Chizarira Hills

Mind the Gap

Yes – we had to get over that !

Which we accomplished without mishap.  There was lot’s of forest in those valleys which I am sure will hold plenty of Narina Trogon‘s. (Compulsory birding reference.)

We rounded a corner and saw we had arrived at our destination !

Chizarira National Park

Arrived………..

This was a huge “Tick” for me as I had never been here before.  Close but not actually.  Many years ago I once walked the Sengwa River Gorge which forms this park’s eastern boundary.  We were looking for Taita Falcon and yes we did find them.

This post is long enough without actually taking you into the Park so I will leave you here to await the next installment.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers

Tony