Next morning, first item on the agenda was to register for our respective events at Matobo Hills Lodge.
Outdoor with Rosie Mitchell
Being regulars in this National Park, we chose the long but scenic route and the rest of the party followed. Matobo Hills Lodge also has a wonderful setting and like Camp Amalinda, has set its swimming pool in natural rock — very attractive.
Registration was very organised and there was even the opportunity for retail therapy as Fiona Burns was selling some very nice running and cycling kit! Four of us duly parted with some dollars and left sporting our snazzy new attire.
We had promised everyone a good adventure or two for the rest of the day on this fleeting Matobo trip; there were so many options it was hard to settle on one but in the end we chose a visit to Shentendabudzi Dyke, a little known yet truly fascinating geological phenomenon which Sarah discovered years ago by reading from cover to cover the collector’s item book, Treadgold’s Matopos a composite of writings from the 1920s to 1950s about the history, geology, wildlife, rock art and all else of interest (and there is so much!) in the Matobo Hills.
Years ago we first went in search of it, which was challenging as the book is so old that its map bears little resemblance to present day and landmark administration buildings described from another era altogether don’t exist anymore.
At that time by much deduction, calculation and ingenuity we managed eventually to calculate some coordinates to access part of this dyke, about 40km of which snakes its way through the Matobo hills. It is a dolerite dyke in parts 10m high and 4m wide which very much resembles manmade brickwork due to all the faults that have developed in the rock over the aeons.
One can see it winding its way up and down the hills looking like some sort of natural Great Wall of China — a fascinating sight and well-worth tracking down, although not necessarily easy to do, as even when you are very close to it, it isn’t necessarily all that visible or obvious at first! The last time we went, by the time we eventually found it there was torrential rain so no opportunity to scramble about on it.
This time we were luckier! Firstly we found it, this being our third attempt, with relative ease. Secondly the weather was fantastic so we spent hours climbing up and then along the massive “wall” of dolerite.
All agreed it was well worth the visit and a unique experience. The scenery in the area is lovely giving everyone a great taste of Matobo and some of us climbed to the highest point near the dyke so we could get an even better view of the area, and more of a birds’ eye view of the dyke from higher and a little way off.
The O’Donoghue crew decided to head back to camp after our Shentendabudzi expedition while we four headed off to climb mount Effifi and enjoy a sundowner atop it. This is a spectacularly dramatic mountain and area with an amazing view.
It’s very steep to climb and requires nerves of steel in some parts but everyone made it to the top in spite of a few hairy moments! It was wonderful to watch the sunset from up there, sipping gin and tonics, and Rob and John even took a dip in one of the natural crystal clear rock pools.
To get back to camp gave us a night game drive and as well as seeing bush babies hopping about in trees, we were lucky to spot a honey badger — a species I’ve never seen in Matobo before in spite of visiting so regularly for decades. Then it was time to rush in for another great Amalinda dinner.
The only downside of being a runner is the crack of dawn starts of races — to avoid running in excessive heat. The O’Donoghue party were more sensible than us and went to bed very early — a skill we still have not acquired! It was a 4:30 am wake up on Sunday, with all our kit laid out the night before, and we actually arrived early.
The 6:00 am races were delayed to cater for participants caught up at the National Park entrance in a queue to pay fees. We were not the only Harare participants either — talented runner Angela Miller surprised us at the start line! As usual she left me for dust, she is very fast!
John and Dorothy Bowman, true to their enthusiastic natures and always ready to try something new dragged themselves out of bed at the crack of dawn too and came out to the Park to support the races. They appeared to enjoy this as much as we enjoyed taking part! I ran the 22km trail run while Sarah, Rob and John opted for the 45km cycle. There was also a 10 km run and a 22km and 60km bike ride.
We loved the event! In scenery like that, one cannot fail to do so, and this was very well organised with lots of water points manned by children from the beneficiary Ethandweni Children’s Home. The arrival of famous Argentinean Zapp family added colour to the festive occasion — they have travelled the world for 22 years in a vintage car, having their children along the way, and giving talks wherever they go!
Our return home was supposed to be lunchtime after the race, but the car was listening to our reluctance to leave such a wonderful place!
It ground to a halt just 2km out of Camp. Bill Dally came to the rescue and in a déja vu moment we managed to get hold of the same brilliant Bulawayo mechanic Doug Bawden who in January 2012 came to rescue us from a breakdown leaving Jabulani Safari Lodge!
His prowess in diagnosing, then fixing obscure mechanical occurrences, was once more demonstrated — we of course stayed another night — hardly a hardship!