EFIFI VALLEY          - 7/12/2009      <--Prev : Next-->

Lorna Doone was one of my favourite books as a child, how romantic was that legendary, if scary, Doone Valley ?

Bulawayo has its own Doone Valleys too - the glorious, magical Lumene Valley in the Esigodini Hills where the river meanders tirelessly through the valley floor and the waterfall cascades down one richly wooded precipice.

And then there is the Efifi Valley in the Matopos with its own Pride Rock.

This is quite our favourite picnic spot, one can actually drive onto this massive grey-green, granite, igneous extrusion, establish one's picnic, and it is even safe to light a fire as there is no undergrowth within many metres the rock is so vast.

Completely surrounding Pride Rock are giant granitic formations, covered in moss and lichen, and glowing with iridescent greens, yellows and ochres. The "Ama Tobo" Mzilikazi called it, the glorious Matopos Kopjes, one can almost see the Impi standing on the crest of the hill silhouetted against the crimson sunset.

Over there are vast fields of the everlasting plant, now green and lush with the recent heavy rains, but so often grey and silver when the hills are dry and thirsty.

Over there a troop of baboons waiting respectfully until we leave although they will not find much left behind by our party. "Take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but your footprints" is the unbroken,sacrosanct Matobo law.

Over there is a plush, grassy knoll with distinct signs that a herd of buck spends the nights there under the vast starry skies. The grassy tufts are so thick and dense that one could pitch one's own tent and not even need a mattress.

During the wet season, water flows down the rocks, erupting from the fissures between the exfoliated layers, and when the kids were young, they would slide down the waterways on cooler box lids or on trays.

At the base of the waterways can be found magical pools where frogs and scorpions wage a deadly fight for dominance of the area !!

The fit amongst us ride our bikes to the Matopos, others drive the bakes with the picnic fare. Rock climbing is in-bred in Matabeles and once exhausted, we settle down to borevors rolls, cooked on the skittle with Dave's famous onion and garlic relish. A pilsener or a glass of wine, and as the sun goes down and the sky darkens,it is star and moon watching time.

The stars are incredible, no ambient light anywhere, and one can only hear the uttering of the birds as they settle down for the night, and the faint hum of the jets as they ply their way from Cape to Cairo.

There are more stars in the Matopos of course than anywhere else in the world, we Matabeles are convinced of that ! There is Orion, "oh look" here comes the Southern Cross which rises much later, and then over the giant monolith rises the brilliant moon, quite the most breathtaking and exquisite picture, awe inspiring and incredible.

Scuffle scuffle, a shy civet cat prowls the perimeter of the camp fire looking for scraps. The Matopos has the densest population of leopard they tell me, although they are very hard to spot.Dassies dodge into rocky crevasses to sleep, the baboons have chosen the tallest tree they can find, and all's right with the world once again.

Conversation is unnecessary, nature does all the talking, as we drink in all the beauty that Zimbabwe has to offer people who love nature, quiet and good companions.

"You never enjoy the world, aright, till the Sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars; and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world, and more than so, because men are in it who are every one, sole heirs as well as you."

Thomas Traherne