Gonarezhou National Park is situated in the south eastern lowveld of Zimbabwe and covers an area in excess of 5 000 square kilometres. The 'Gonarezhou" meaning "Place of many Elephants" is an extremely scenic Park full of rugged and beautiful landscapes.
Alternative folklore suggests the area was named for the herbalists who would stock their medicines in tusks (known as gona in the Shona language). Another possible name for Gonarezhou is 'Elephant's tusk'.....
Three major rivers - The Save, Runde and Mwenezi - cut their courses through the Park, forming pools and natural oases from which hundreds of species of birds, wildlife and fish gather to feed and drink. As its name implies, Gonarezhou is famous for its elephants, and many of the largest-tusked elephants in the region maybe found within the Park.
Now HeeHoo and I have been in love with Mana Pools for many years but we might, might now be more slightly favoring 'Gonners!!'
We first went to Gonrezhou about six years ago when the park was at an all time low thanks to Zimbabwe's economy. We were the only people in the entire park!! We heard rifle shots! We saw no one at all except for a solitary park ranger, we camped in solitary isolation with only the baboons for company, and we saw very very few animals......
Last week we saw a completely different side of Gonarezhou - the park was really quite a busy little place!!
We camped at Fishans Camp with a lovely group of local and South African friends. We the locals were pretty used to camping but our equipment was nothing like that of our friends from across the border!! EXCEPT FOR THE SHOWER!!
P.J. and Debs from Turk Mine brought with them, a shower stall that could rival a shower in the Savoy Hotel.
A magnificent contraption, comprising a leaf green shower curtain, ample rubber matting to exclude the possibility of mud, and an ingenious cast-iron tea urn run on gas!!
Never was a shower more warmly welcome, with water drawn daily by hand, from the Runde River, and hand poured into a substantial bucket above a shower head by loving husbands!!
Toasty warm water to clean and revive after a hard days camping, and even a macrame mirror plus scented lavender soap to clean one's tootsies!!
These South Africans sure know how to camp, they have every conceivable camping 'mod con', and their hospitality was absolutely amazing.
I must admit we had the easiest and most hands-on tent though, everyone envied our little Eureka number that was erected and dismantled literally in minutes. And the beauty of it was that, if one left off the fly sheet one could lie on one's stretcher and through the gauze, keep and eye on the moon (a brilliant Blue Moon it was too) and of course the glorious milky way and all the stars.
Gill and Bert had a trailer that was a 'Camper's Dream' a mobile home with a kitchen to die for. Jo and Alan's beautiful 4 x 4 was equipped for camping like no other vehicle I have ever seen, and Vince and Linny were the most hospitable and accomplished campers to be found north of the Limpopo!!
We had a daily mighty running battle with the baboons, they were polished thieves and were not afraid of much!
We saw so much game on our forays into the park, loads of eles, giraffe, kudu, impala, waterbuck, nyala, hippo and zebra to name but a few. The birds and water birds were prolific, and of course we fell in love, again with the glorious, majestic, incredible Chilojo Clifts.
There were quite a number of tourists, we met several of them as we became quite well known as 'those people at Fishans who have a satellite phone'. Our phone became widely used by several campers who needed to call Chiredzi to arrange for the purchase of new tyres. The Gonners roads were in fact very good thanks to the input from the Frankfurt Zoological Society, but the casualty rate at Fishans Causeway caused us great mirth.
P.J. was the first to get well stuck in the sand pulling his 100 kg mighty shower trailer....HeeHoo will never admit to it but he also got bogged down temporarily, and then the rest of the trip was spent towing all and sundry through the Runde River Bednwith our trusty cruiser!!
A great place to make lasting friendships apparently, is the dry sandy river bed of a Zimbabwe river!!