Last weekend we headed for the first time in ages out to Chivero to enjoy a Sailing Regatta hosted by Harare Safari Lodge. Both were “firsts” for us, and after the good time we enjoyed, I doubt either will be a last!
Report by Rosie Mitchell
We met members of the friendly sailing fraternity of Harare, saw what Harare Safari Lodge has to offer, and watched the Regatta from out on the water on the Bridge Boat, from which officials manage such events. We were tutored in the different sizes and types of vessel by those aboard, and tried to get our heads around sailing, which looked like a lot of fun!
Then we were whizzed off on a motor boat ride by one of the Jacana Sailing Club members to take a look at their impressive club facilities, and all the other activities going on at Chivero, and do a bit of game viewing from the water, in the National Park. Later we lunched, and checked out the lodge, the site of which was once upon a time the Harare Yacht Club.
Opened in 1996, Harare Safari Lodge is now run by energetic husband and wife team Grafnegie and Painos Mutizwa, who were promoting their business by hosting the event and drawing in the sailing fraternity to see what they have to offer. Rates are very reasonable (US$110 for a double room per night, US$160 for a family unit which sleeps four, US$80 single, all inclusive of breakfast, and even less, off season). The thatched units really are charming, and it looked like a really great place for a weekend away from the city hubbub and is a very popular venue for both weddings and conferences too.
They have a varied à la carte menu, and on Sundays, offer a braai down by the water. For the Regatta, they had laid on a traditional song and dance performance to entertain the sailors and their supporters while they ate.
Activities are also on offer at reasonable fees — dawn and sunset boat cruises, game viewing, guided bird walks through the nearby bird sanctuary area, and canoeing.
Sailing as a hobby and sport has a small but enthusiastic following in Zimbabwe, and our sailors acquit themselves admirably in high profile international events. We were amazed by the tender age of some of the young competitors in the small Optimist boats, which is how children start out.
Optimists can be bought at modest fee second hand for the newbies. There are currently two active sailing clubs — Mazoe and Jacana — and members of both were competing on September 8. An annual Sailing School is held every May at Jacana Sailing Cub, situated at Lake Chivero, very popular with children wanting to give sailing a try, and also open to novice adults. Sailing boats are available for hire and by all accounts this is a very social event which draws lots of families out to Chivero to enjoy the fun. Regattas are held monthly and are also very social as was clearly evident!
One of the most appealing aspects of sailing is the absence of noise. Speed boats and other motorised water sports take place at the other end of the dam, leaving the sailors to enjoy their eco-friendly option in peace. Observing the sailors of every age, I could see that there is much skill involved — it looked very enjoyable and I was tempted to book in for the Sailing School next year and give it a go! Various friends over the years have enthused about sailing, especially those who each year head up to Kariba for the well-known May Regatta and spend a week sailing the lake, camping on shore and enjoying the wildlife — how wonderful, and no noisy motor to disturb the peace!
We were delighted to see rhino in the park from the water — exceedingly well-protected in this National Park as they would need to be, and especially, given the current shocking news about rhino poaching. In South Africa, this year alone, 373 rhino have been poached! Unbelievable, really, in this day and age, but tragically, true. For as long as the ludicrous myths persist about any magical or medicinal powers existing in their horn — which does you no more good than chewing your own finger nails, comprising nothing but hard skin — this carnage seems destined to continue, and to outrage us.
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