A Travellerspoint blog

Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls! Let the Highs and Lows Flow!

We came back from our last safari drive to have one final meal made by Henley our cook. We would be on our own for food at Victoria Falls for the next night.

P1020879.jpg

Our tour was almost over but to enjoy the area more Thom and I had arranged for us to stay an extra night at the campground in a chalet since we would need to give our tent back after the first night. Then we had booked for our final night a room in a nice place on the Zambezi River where we could just take nice showers, eat a good meal and relax before our LONG plane ride home. But more about how that plan went to hell later...ha ha ha!

Right now we are boarding our truck and the teak wood is still on fire from two days ago with blue flames....so crazy! Henley our cook throws some water on it finally to put it out and the ground looked like it was melting and instantly boiling. Whoa!

Oh somewhere along the way we made a stop for this one of a kind picture!
Only at the bus stop folks!
IMG_2244.jpg

When we arrive we are briefed on all of the actives to do at Victoria Falls such as these incredibly scary adrenaline stuff where you leap and dive into the gorge.....Not really my style and I start having breathing problem from just listening to them talk about the options... There was a 10-15 minute helicopter ride over the falls that some chose to do and while the pictures looked amazing we opted out because it was kinda pricy.
At this point we were just going to go back set up our tent and get our heads around the area.

We took a nice walk and wound up where the adrenaline activities took place at the gorge!
IMG_1863.jpg

They had the flying squirrel where you run and jumped horizontally like super man across, A steep zip line that you glided across and then wavered back and forth and finally the gorge swing....This made my stomach turn every time I watched someone do it! It is essentially bungee jumping but you are in a harness that isn't attached around your ankels so you swing out after the free fall and you are not upside down....( I am getting woozy as I type this)

We left the gorge and headed up and over the the super fancy posh Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe and made ourselves comfortable for a cocktail! We got a Stanley and a Livingston of course!

IMG_2253.jpg

Umm So I can't find any nice photos of the hotel for some reason but I do have the ones Thom took of the bathroom...the important stuff
IMG_2264.jpgIMG_2260.jpg

Don't mind the pumbas munching on the grass....
IMG_1871.jpgIMG_1876.jpg

The hotel has a great view and you can see that rainbow in the back from the mist of the falls...
IMG_1875.jpg

large_IMG_1868.jpg

Dinner Time came and we had some great a cappella South African men's choir perform at dinner.
While our tour with our group was officially ending some of us decided to meet up the next night for a booze cruise down the Zambezi River the next night. So after some time chatting we went to bed for the final night in our tent!

The next morning we woke to go support Cool Aussie Nancy as she had signed up to do all three of the adrenaline activities.
DSC02377.jpg

DSC02376.jpg

Thom had then decided to do the zip line. So I went to video because watching fall from thing just ain't my thing! But check it out Thom!
DSC02379.jpg

large_DSC02382.jpg

DSC02387.jpg

DSC02385.jpg

In the end Thom also did the crazy Gorge Jump (WARNING....The F bomb is dropped once in this so maybe turn the sound down) It was kind of crazy because I didn't know he was going to do it and then I had to run back to my spot to catch it on video....

After all that craziness it was finally time to see the falls!!!!
P1020733.jpg

Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya (Tokaleya Tonga: the Smoke that Thunders), is a waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
P1020732.jpg

IMG_1885.jpg

IMG_1895.jpg

While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest, based on its width of 5,604 ft and height of 354 ft, resulting in the world's largest sheet of falling water.

IMG_1902.jpg

IMG_1890.jpg

IMG_1889.jpg

IMG_1884.jpg

Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America's Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls

IMG_1914.jpg

IMG_1912.jpg

IMG_1904.jpg

P1020737.jpg

Just a light mist ya know...

P1020743.jpg

Of course we need a tigger picture!!!

P1020739.jpg

After the falls is when the craziness started. We had a nice lunch at the Victoria Falls Hotel again and then made our way back to the campground so that we could check into our chalet and shower before our river cruise...Well there was supposively something wrong with the locks on the chalets and they couldn't place us in them but they had some kind of upgrade for us. Well this turned out to be a dirty disgusting dorm. So let's just say that the people at the front desk were not very helpful or kind about the situation and I started to really loose my cool. The short story was that we were suppose to have been able to check in by 2:00 our boat ride was leaving around six and we had no room before we left. Luckily Christine and Bob let me rinse off in there shower but we were still not to happy. But I wasn't going to let it ruin my boat ride so we went to drink up and have a good time.

IMG_2046.jpg

IMG_1921.jpg

It was really fun and I was so glad that I got to do that with the people I enjoyed much of time with on the tour. Paul, Vivienne , Good old John, Bob Christine and Cool Aussie Nancy all joined us!
IMG_2051.jpg

IMG_2057.jpg

We also didn't realize it was a bit of water safari as well!
large_IMG_1939.jpg

IMG_1946.jpg

IMG_1955.jpg

IMG_2042.jpgIMG_1995.jpg

IMG_1988.jpg

This is me when I find out that our room that I reserved and paid for in February was not available:
large_IMG_2025.jpg

With once again amazing sunsets!
large_IMG_2067.jpg

large_B506EE76AB84967CBDAD7D1FCB7ECCC5.jpg

Getting back now after having too many I was super enraged when I was told that we had to sleep in the dorm, luckily for them it was clean and we had the entire place to ourselves. That coupled with the fact that because we were so pissed about this and called our nice hotel that we were to stay in the next night and were told that they also couldn't find my reservation and also had no room for us resulted in had a serious 100% last straw kicking punching raging melt down before finally settling in for the night. It was a low point for me I would say.

The next day we were to leave and go to our new hotel for a final special night. Yup so I called again, they had our reservation and so I was relieved and thought that would be the end of the bad luck. With that in mind Thom and I had plans to walk across the border to the Zambia side of the falls and take a boat to Livingston Island and swim and walk on top of the Falls!!!

We hiked it there to cheap to take a taxi...lol ( It really wasn't that bad of a walk) And arrived at this even more posh of hotel than the Victoria Falls Hotel. It was the Livingston Hotel in Zambia and wow...did I feel like a fish our of water walking up to the gate sweating in our bathing suits and my yoga pants!!! Ha ha ha!!! But it was fine. we met on the sun gate with some other people and waited for them to take us by boat to the island.

The island is owned by the hotel and so the only way to reach it and have that experience of swimming on top of the falls is to go through this company. I was so glad I was able to make this happen before we left.

P1020790.jpg

P1020791.jpg

P1020796.jpg

90_P1020797.jpg

There we were greeted with some kind of starch drink that I politely pretended to drink..(.yum....that was so good maybe I'll just save some for later ok?)
P1020800.jpg

Bathroom with a view
P1020801.jpg

We then had to remove our shoes and truck through the mud to get to the edge.
P1020802.jpg

Our guide then took us to one of my favorite parts of the entire trip! Top of the falls!
It was absolutely AMAZING!!!!
P1020806.jpg

P1020821.jpg

We got swim around in Angle's Armchair... While Devils pool would have been slightly better it was still an amazing second due to the water levels being too high to do that eddy.

P1020840.jpg

large_P1020831.jpg

The views were spectacular and thrilling!

P1020874.jpg

P1020898.jpg

P1020920.jpg

large_P1020919.jpg

Dr. Livingston I presume?

P1020882.jpg

After our time on the edge part of the tour was a fancy brunch on the island YUM!

P1020924.jpgP1020925.jpg

So after we arrived back at the hotel it was time to walk back to Zimbabwe but we first had to make our way through the rest of the property. To our surprise (since this did not happen on our way in) Random animals were roaming the property!!!!
WHAT!!!

P1020927.jpg

P1020929.jpg

OMG that tree is moving and alive!!!
90_P1020930.jpg

P1020934.jpg

P1020935.jpg

More?

P1020937.jpg

P1020939.jpg

We finally made our way back to the crappy campground and got our bags and were off to our nice final hotel to only find out when we got there that there now magically was something wrong with our room and we could no longer stay there. What was actually happening and we knew this was there was some African Political conference happening and they were using there corrupt power to pressure the hotels and so we were getting bumped out. So after being taken to a crappy second hotel and refusing to stay there we were finally driven to this AMAZING hotel called the Victoria Falls Lodge. W could never had afforded to stay there so it worked out in the end. Plus we got a free dinner as well.

It was a beautiful redone hunting lodge with multiple look out levels of a watering hole where different animals visited daily.

IMG_2286.jpg

IMG_2091.jpg

B7B63779D334C60DACA1C8DD9B16647A.jpg

IMG_2101.jpg

B7B6A53503FAC486F6B739233900F1FC.jpg

IMG_2287.jpg

IMG_2124.jpg

Absolutely fabulous. Two pool to watch the animals and sun set!

IMG_2092.jpg

IMG_2273.jpg

IMG_2278.jpg

IMG_2272.jpg

IMG_2276.jpg

large_IMG_2114.jpg

IMG_2130.jpg

Here are some photos of our final celebrations!
IMG_2285.jpg

IMG_2284.jpg

This trip was such a mix of really amazing highs and lots of downs and lows I between. I am so grateful the experience and will all treasure all the moments that in the end make us stronger and smarter travels. Ok now I waiting board a plane to Mexico City so got to go!

Posted by Kelly Rose 03:49 Archived in Zimbabwe Comments (2)

Hwange National Park

Ok so we but first a quick stop at the Painted Dog reserve...
It was not really that exciting to be honest an animal shelter with two dogs. But the painted dogs are just another species in jeopardy here in Zimbabwe. Painted Dogs, also known as African Wild Dogs, are unique to Africa and they are among this continent's most endangered species. It is estimated that less than 7,000 remain in the wild. The Painted Dog population in Zimbabwe is one of the last strongholds of the species and we are committed to their conservation. Our conservation methods and our work with the local communities are beginning to have a positive effect on the outlook of the Painted Dog species.

We then made our way to Hwange National Park where Ian (the rhino whisperer) was going to be meeting us there and taking us on some safari game drives. Turns out his jeep had some technical difficulties so he wouldn't be arriving on time. In Africa this can mean everything from an extra hour to it probably just isn't going to happen at all. But you never know. After lunch we became doubtful or at least bored as there was nothing much to do in the camping section of the park. So we walked to the park's little bar/restaurant and did what any bored person might do and drink....ha ha ha
Italian Ladies club split some wine and in the end our patience near the front entrance pays off and we finally spot Ian. We hop in his jeep and ride back to meet the group and be on our way. The park has strict rules about being out past dark and so while we will not be able to do a full drive Ian and his companion take us out and we are still able to catch some wonderful animals and views.
IMG_1695.jpg

IMG_1696.jpg

Lovely waterhole with the perfect light to capture the elephants!
large_IMG_1713.jpg

IMG_1711.jpg

IMG_1708.jpg

IMG_1722.jpg

The sun was starting to set....
IMG_1724.jpg

So we needed to start heading back but got to see a bit more before we got to the gate!
Some kudus, and wilder beast.
large_IMG_1740.jpg

IMG_1741.jpg

IMG_1756.jpg

IMG_1755.jpg

Check out this guy's antlers!
IMG_1752.jpg

Sun is fading fast!
IMG_1730.jpg

But wait there are some giraffes with different patterns and colorations then we saw in the Serengeti in Tanzania!
IMG_1764.jpg

IMG_1751.jpg

This is how you do it Boys! (Awkward)
IMG_1749.jpg

Now the moon has come out it was as if the sun and moon were on strings like you would see at a children's play. One went down and the other immediately popped up!
IMG_1784.jpg

IMG_1779.jpg

Now after dinner Ian tells us we can take an optional ride in the land rovers at night. We can't drive through the park but we can drive around the perimeters and look for some fun creatures at night! So it is really cold at night in the jeep so we bundle up with sleeping bags and beers. Cool Aussie Nancy is sporting her onsie that is essentially a grownup tigger costume and has front seat. Tigger, I mean Nancy is awesome because she stands and guides this flood light back and forth in search of glowing eyes! We spot what is essentially a type of deer that is so tiny even full grown. I forget its name. Then Ian asks if we have seen flying baboons? He spots a few and immediately starts chasing them with the jeep (and us in it) howling at them. We drive them up the tree and then they start jumping and flying from all over. After that bit of fun we resign to the fact that we won't see much else and so Ian takes us to a nearby human waterhole.

Then all of a sudden it is there! A huge male lion crosses the road right in front of us. Pauses at our jeep and the annoying flood light. Looks right at us and continues to cross into the bush! Super cool!

We meet at this kinda poshy hotel for a drink at the bar. We get scotch mixed with Amarula...the South African cream liqueur (kinda reminds me of Baileys). I went to use the bathroom but the Thom went outside on the lawn with group and said he saw some more impala and elephant. They also heard a lion in the distant. We return to camp and happily sit around a great fire (it was a log of teak wood!!! I know right???) talking and listening to stories and knowledge of life in the bush from Ian. We are sooooo tired that Thom and I finally decided to turn in. Just as we are about to go to sleep, we hear Ian in a loud whisper "It's a Honey Badger!" followed by the running and scuffling of footsteps.... We passed on the chase because well we were already in the tent with shoes off and in our sleeping bags...also you know honey badger don't give a s!@# anyways...lol

The next morning we ate breakfast ( that teak is still burning/smoking btw) and Ian picked us up for one more drive. We didn't see too much but there were some fun birds along the way. I personally am not a big bird watcher here in the states and I find most birds kind of boring. But in Africa they are amazing and beautiful! Here are only a few.

IMG_1800.jpg

IMG_1808.jpg

IMG_1798.jpg

large_IMG_1809.jpg

large_IMG_1812.jpg

IMG_1830.jpg

IMG_1834.jpg

We were tracking a lion but never found him. Back to the waterhole.
Love this picture of Thom with Bob and Christine (the Floridians)
IMG_1836.jpg

Oh a hippo.... ( can you tell we are spoiled now...) And in the distance you can see a croc too!

large_IMG_1824.jpg

Lots of warthogs...I mean Pumbas! Ian does this call that sounds like a dying pig and it scares them away...Tails up boys!
IMG_1794.jpg

IMG_1852.jpg

He keeps saying that he can talk to them but they keep running.

IMG_1855.jpg

IMG_1853.jpg

Finally his call works and they stop and stare at us for a bit...he he he..

large_IMG_1857.jpg

large_IMG_1858.jpg

Once again on our way out we happen to see something amazing and kind of rare right in front of us crossing the road! (It's not just for chickens you know)
IMG_1838.jpg

A family of Ostrich! Mom, Dad and Babies!!!

IMG_1840.jpg

IMG_1841.jpg

Mom heads into the bush and Dad pushes the little ones along..."Nothing to see here kids just another bunch of tourists with their cameras..."

IMG_1843.jpg

Mom takes the babies into the bush but Dad keeps and eye out! "That's right humans you stay right there....I got my eye on you!"
IMG_1847.jpg

"And don't even think about following us!"
IMG_1848.jpg

Next stop Victoria Falls...where you thought jumping into a gorge was about as exciting as it could get there....but oh no, let's wait to find out in this upcoming final African post how Kelly and Thom brought Jersey RAGE to the country of Zimbabwe and made it out to tell you about it.....Don't worry after the screaming and kicking it does have a nice ending....

Posted by Kelly Rose 20:01 Archived in Zimbabwe Tagged park national hwange Comments (1)

Matobo Hills, Nswatugi Cave and a Village Visit.

We left the Rhinos and headed to a camp area for a quick lunch.

P1020621.jpg P1020623.jpg

We chased this rainbow lizard for a while....
P1020646.jpg

And got some nice views as well...
P1020653.jpg

Matobo (or Motopos as it use to be called) National Park
P1020622.jpg

The hills, known locally as kopjes, fall into two main categories. The balancing 'castle kopjes' are formed by the rock splitting along natural lines of weakness, or joints. In the Matobo these joints run noticeably from North to South and East to West. So the balancing piles of 'building blocks' that look as though they have been carefully constructed from the ground up are, in fact, constantly forming themselves from the top down. And because the boulders on the summit are more exposed to nature's weathering effects they tend to be more rounded than the angular blocks at the base of the hills.

large_IMG_1599.jpg

We passed the MOTH (Memorable Oder of the Tin Hats) Founded by Charles Evedon this memorial pass recognition to the fallen from World War 1

IMG_1595.jpg IMG_1596.jpg

We also passed Gordon Park...where all scouts as we know started...yup that's right kids it started in Zimbabwe!
IMG_1598.jpg
It was in the Matabeleland region in Zimbabwe that, during the Second Matabele War, Robert Baden-Powell, who later became the founder of Boy Scouting Association, and Frederick Russell Burnham, the American born Chief of Scouts for the British Army, first met and began their lifelong friendship. During many scouting expeditions, Frederick showed Baden-Powell woodworking and they shared stories of survival - which may have later laid the groundwork for early Boy Scout principals. Baden-Powell and Burnham discussed the concept of a broad training program in woodcraft for young men, rich in exploration, tracking, fieldwork, and self-reliance.

Then it was a short hike up into the mountains....
90_IMG_1603.jpg

With wonderful views:
large_P1020664.jpg

IMG_1606.jpg IMG_1608.jpg

Finally we reach Nswatugi Cave.
IMG_1626.jpg

These hills have one of the greatest concentrations of rock art in the region. The hunter-gatherer peoples who once found security and sustenance in these hills have left countless paintings across the Matobo.

IMG_1609.jpg

Evidence for the early history of the area comes from archaeological excavations and from analysis of the rock paintings. These indicate a long and perhaps continuous use of the caves from the Stone Age right through to the early historical period first by hunters and gatherer societies and then by Iron Age settlers practicing agriculture.

IMG_1614.jpg

The art is not simplistic illustrations of their lives. There is a selection of what they chose to paint and not to paint. These are symbols and illustrations of their deepest religious feelings and understanding of the reality of life around them. They would relate to the viewer the complexity of social relations (age, gender and living in community) as well as the complex realm of spirits. This only worked for those brought up in their society, knowing the symbolism. We outsiders stand here not fully understanding this ancient and now largely forgotten symbolic language.

IMG_1611.jpg

The finely wrought art is a depiction of the complex religion of the Late Stone Age hunter-gatherers, and although beautiful, has meanings that go beyond the aesthetic. The images are likely to signify various aspects of human emotions, relationships and interactions with each other and the world around them.

IMG_1620.jpg

IMG_1623.jpg

The realistic giraffe paintings are some of the best such depictions in the hills although they were not well suited to the rocky terrain.
large_90_IMG_1616.jpg

IMG_1610.jpg

As with the kudu, they were nevertheless well adapted to the open Acacia woodland just outside the Matobo. These animals are often depicted large in central and prominent positions in the bigger living sites and in many instances, the artist would have required some sort of ladder to paint them.

IMG_1624.jpg

Exactly what the minerals were mixed with is not known for certain, but is likely to have been gums from acacia trees, latex from euphorbias, blood, urine, animal fat or marrow, egg white or yolk or a mixture of any of these substances.

IMG_1612.jpg

Here you can see an example of shadow paintings of humans that only seem to reveal themselves in when the sun is blocked.
IMG_1622.jpg

The dating of the paintings is still debated, with some experts suggesting an age of up to 20,000 years.

IMG_1619.jpg

The dating of the paintings is still debated, with some experts suggesting an age of up to 20,000 years. However, it is likely that the majority of the paintings that have survived to the present day are less than 2,000 years old. If this is something that you would like to learn more here is a great link http://www.rockartscandinavia.com/images/articles/a12walker.pdf
I am hoping to eventually link some video of Ian our guide speaking to us in the cave because I could have spent hours listening to him explain all kinds of interesting and amazing things about the caves and the people....

After the paintings we had to take a vote on either seeing Cecil Rhode's Grave or visiting a local village. The village people won (lol) and we headed off.
IMG_1633.jpg

First we needed to meet the chief
IMG_1642.jpg

What a character this guy was! He told us of how he was attacked by a leopard when he was younger and showed us his scars to prove it!
IMG_1666.jpg

Then we met some of the other people of the village while they showed us some of their ways of life
IMG_1682.jpg

Some of them sang and danced and did a bit of a performance for us.
large_IMG_1647.jpg

Then we were invited to join in the fun...
IMG_1665.jpg

IMG_1664.jpg

IMG_1662.jpg

Honestly I would have to say that it was not the most authentic experience ever but the people were still very nice. The truth is, you are not going to get any kind of 'authentic' experience when you are on a tour. For that you really need to volunteer and live with and like the people themselves. This made me even more appreciative of my time spent in Ghana years earlier.

Ok so one more safari park a quick sad stop at the painted dogs sanctuary and then off to Victoria Falls....

Posted by Kelly Rose 15:21 Archived in Zimbabwe Comments (1)

The Rhino Whisperer

The Rhino Whisperer
IMG_1568.jpg

Thom wakes early and since it was Bob and Christine's anniversary we wanted to have their tent set up for them. They had upgraded the night before but there were no rooms available for our second night so we upgraded them anyway by setting up their tent for them and decorating it with Thom's birthday balloon.

After breakfast we are greeted with two open Jeeps which we will take to go see White Rhinos.
The Happy Anniversary Couple:
P1020600.jpg

The Happy (someone just had a birthday yesterday) couple...lol
P1020601.jpg

Ian Harmer is our main tour leader and honestly the best guide we had on our entire trip. I can't stress enough how passionate and knowledgeable this man was and how fortunate we were to have him for the next two days as well!
IMG_1581.jpg
The Harmer family has lived in the Matabeleland area since the early 1890’s having arrived with the first Settlers into "Rhodesia." We hop in the jeep with him and off we go.

We are heading toward The Matobo National Park, which forms the core of the Matobo or Matopos Hills, an area of granite kopjes and wooded valleys commencing some 35 kilometres south of Bulawayo, southern Zimbabwe. The hills were formed over 2 billion years ago with granite being forced to the surface, this has eroded to produce smooth "whaleback dwalas" and broken kopjes, strewn with boulders and interspersed with thickets of vegetation. Mzilikazi, founder of the Ndebele nation, gave the area its name, meaning 'Bald Heads'. I have pictures of that but those come later....

Part of this area is a conservation reserve for the rhinos. We arrive at this road that seems to head into the bush. Standing there are two men with riffles. Ian speaks to them and then informs us that there are about 6 rhino not too far from here. The men with the riffles join us. Now here I'm thinking "Cool these guys are here to protect us in case one of those rhinos starts to charge us." However, we would soon learn that they were not there to protect us, or at least not just us but rather they were there more to protect the rhinos from poachers.
P1020604.jpg

We arrive at a clearing and Ian asks us to sign a waiver and the goes over some precautionary instructions like
P1020606.jpg

1) Don't run away from a rhino, hide behind a tree or rock. They can run up to 30-35mph in 30 sec and weigh well a friggn lot!

2) crouch when approaching a rhino and walk in a single line slowly. They have poor eyesight so bright colors or things that can stand out are not advisable to wear.

3) No flash and no GPS on anything. Poachers are now using GPS on cameras and phones to track the rhinos

4) If Ian yells "RUN" ignore all the other rules and run to a tree and climb up it and pray the rhino goes somewhere else and you don't get stuck up there for hours waiting for it to leave...

P1020605.jpg

So with all that we are off on foot and I am sooo nervous!!!
You are out there totally exposed and I don't know what kind of trees Ian was talking about but there aren't as many as I'd like to see given the speech we were just given.

We see the white rhinos in the distance and then split into two groups following our leaders couched in single file.
P1020607.jpgP1020608.jpg

Crouched down to carefully take some photos
IMG_1572a.jpg

White rhinos aren’t white and black rhinos aren’t black.
The white rhino’s name is taken from the Afrikaans word “wyd,” which means “wide” and describes its mouth. Early English settlers in South Africa misinterpreted the "wyd" for "white".
P1020618.jpgP1020619.jpg

Black rhinos probably got their name from the dark wet mud in their wallows that made them appear black in color. Both species are essentially gray in color. The black rhino though is known for being way more aggressive than the white and it would not be safe to bring a group as large as our this close to one of them.

P1020609.jpg

They stand as we approach only 100 yards away!
Ian is very familiar with the group. It is a pregnant females and some younger males.
P1020610.jpg
Ian "talks to the " calling their names and blowing reassuring grunts. All of this calms the group. (Rhinos and the nervous tourists!)

We move closer our group only 50 feet away!
P1020611.jpgP1020612.jpg

Ian talks to us about the poaching problem and the rhino's plight all while observing and monitoring any signs that would merit cause for alarm. (And while smoking a cigarette...lol)
IMG_1561.jpg

P1020617.jpg

Rhino horns are not made of bone, but of keratin, the same material found in your hair and fingernails. A rhino’s horn is not attached to its skull. It is actually a compacted mass of hairs that continues to grow throughout the animal’s lifetime, just like our own hair and nails. In knowing this you can see why it is even more incredibly sad and horrific what poachers are doing to Rhinos.
IMG_1586.jpgIMG_1572.jpg

There are local people who are very poor and might have families to feed. These people are desperate. When you add rich people with too much money and a market in Asia that believes Rhino horn cures cancer or works like Viagra all you get are the Rhinos on the endangered list. Oh and don't forget all the corruption in the governments as well. Rhino horn is worth more than elephant ivory. It is worth more than gold.

IMG_1587.jpgIMG_1580.jpg

And it is a war zone out there! Poachers are now being supplied by international criminal gangs with sophisticated equipment to track and kill rhinos. Hence no gps. Often they use a tranquiliser gun to bring the rhino down and hack of its horn leaving the rhino to wake up and bleed to death very painfully and slowly. Poachers are also often armed with guns making them very dangerous for the anti-poaching teams who put their lives on the line to protect rhinos.
IMG_1570.jpgIMG_1574.jpg

Rhinos were once abundant throughout Africa and Asia with an approximated worldwide population of 500 000 in the early twentieth century. However, despite intensive conservation efforts, poaching of this iconic species is dramatically increasing, pushing the remaining rhinos closer and closer towards extinction.
Rhino poaching has reached a crisis point, and if the killing continues at this rate, we could see rhino deaths overtaking births in 2016-2018, meaning rhinos could go extinct in the very near future.
IMG_1562.jpgIMG_1567.jpg

And the scary thing is the scarcity of rhinos today and the corresponding intermittent availability of rhino horn only drives the price higher, and intensifies the pressure on the declining rhino populations.

Back to us for a moment...
After some time Ian says we can move closer for a photo with the Rhinos behind us, maybe 30 feet! I immediately start recalling all those times I watched someone on those shows "When animals attack" and had said things like "Serves those stupid humans right for getting that close to take a picture of a grizzly bear! What you didn't think it would mind you and your camera up in it's personal space right before it mauled the crap out of your face?" I mean let's be honest, I thought being out of a moving jeep was pretty brave and stupid by some parties to begin with...lol

And with that thought in mind I was not inclined to raise my hand to be the first to step away from the group and put my back to the Rhinos. But can we all take a guess at who was? Yup! Thom would have gone and kissed the pregnant one if he was told it would have been ok. Ha!
P1020614.jpg

And he was rewarded by being one of the only ones to have a picture with the rhino looking right at us because being first they all picked up their heads and ears to say " Hey what's that!"
large_90_P1020615.jpg

But Ian was taking the pictures and didn't seem worried at all. So one by one people went out for a pic until finally I was convinced we would be saved from turning up on a "What not to do when on a safari" buzzfeed list.
IMG_1593.jpg

Notice I have only one knee down as to be sure I can still get up to run incase the faces of the people taking our picture turn to sheer panic....lol
large_270_IMG_1594.jpg

It was so AMAZING!!!! Another great highlight of the whole trip for sure!

Now you may notice that these rhinos have had their horns cut down. This is to protect them. It is still a controversial issue. That and decriminalizing rhino horn. You can read more about that here if you are interested:

http://www.savetherhino.org/rhino_info/thorny_issues

But keep in mind that it is easy to sit back here in the Western world and make judgements on what is good or bad then it is to be there and on the ground and live with what is happening every day. Before I went I wasn't exactly keen on the idea of legalizing rhino horn or the cutting of them but after speaking with the people who are giving up their lives every day to protect them and the fight they are up against even with their own government just to punish the offenders who are caught...well my views have changed for sure.

Anyway this was just the morning of that day and we were off to see cave paintings and spend some time in a village. More in the next post.

Posted by Kelly Rose 16:05 Archived in Zimbabwe Tagged wildlife rhino white_rhino Comments (0)

Great Zimbabwe Ruins

Ooops this was on the way to Bulawayo...DOH!

So after posting the last entry we realized that the Great Zimbabwe Ruins were before Bert's Paradise and Thom's Birthday. The day before, so one of those really long drives was actually this day that I am about to recall. Then Thom's B-day and Bulawayo then Rhinos... Ok now that we got that straight with the only people who it probably matters to (Thom and I) let's check out some ruins!!!

Welcome to Zimbabwe!
large_IMG_1445.jpg

Zimbabwe is the Shona name of the ruins.
The word Zimbabwe consists of two key root words, -mba- which means house; and -bwe, which means stone. The word therefore means "House of Stone".

We stop at the entrance and have a bush lunch before meeting our guide. First we head to the museum because it is the first thing to close. The area is beautiful.
P1020492.jpgP1020493.jpgP1020494.jpgP1020491.jpgP1020482.jpgP1020490.jpgP1020486.jpg

Here we learn about the history and construction of the ruins. Construction of the stone buildings started in the 11th century and continued for over 300 years. The ruins at Great Zimbabwe are some of the oldest and largest structures located in Southern Africa. It is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
IMG_1443.jpg

The most important artifacts recovered from the Monument are the eight Zimbabwe Birds. We were not allowed to take a picture of them but I found this online so you can at least see what I am speaking of.
IMG_1464a.jpg

The iconic stone carved Zimbabwe Bird is an emblem of Zimbabwe. It has appeared on the national flags and coats of arms for Zimbabwe and previously Rhodesia as well as on banknotes, coins and stamps. The original birds, carved from soapstone in a unique and distinctive style once stood proudly on guard atop the walls and monoliths of the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe. When the ruins of Great Zimbabwe were excavated by treasure-hunters in the late nineteenth century eight carvings of soapstone birds were unearthed. One bird was sent to Cecil Rhodes at his Groot Schuur home in Cape Town and, somewhat controversially, still remains there. This is the only bird not currently in Zimbabwe.

Great Zimbabwe was built and occupied between the 12th and 15th centuries.
IMG_1456.jpg

At the peak of its power and prosperity in the 13th and 14th centuries, the town was the largest settlement in southern Africa. The builders of Great Zimbabwe were the Karanga, from which descend the Shona, who constitute a majority of the population of Zimbabwe today. The town’s landscape was dominated by imposing dry stonewalls forming enclosures and in certain areas terraces and platforms. The ruins form three distinct architectural groups. They are known as the Hill Complex, the Valley Complex and the Great Enclosure.

IMG_1448.jpg

So from here we headed up the mountain to the Hill Complex.
IMG_1451.jpgP1020498.jpg
IMG_1459.jpg

Up Ya go!

P1020508.jpg90_IMG_1471.jpg270_IMG_1467.jpg90_IMG_1466.jpgIMG_1463.jpgIMG_1460.jpg

The views were beautiful!
large_IMG_1474.jpg
IMG_1489.jpg

And we even saw a tiger....Even though I thought they were from Asia!
IMG_1477.jpg
This is cool Aussie Nancy and this is only one reason why I love this chick!

We made it!
large_IMG_1476.jpg

Notable features of the Hill Complex include the Eastern Enclosure, in which it is thought the Zimbabwe Birds stood, a high balcony enclosure overlooking the Eastern Enclosure, and a huge boulder in a shape similar to that of the Zimbabwe Bird.
IMG_1481.jpgIMG_1485.jpg

large_IMG_1488.jpg

IMG_1491.jpgIMG_1505.jpg

The Hill Complex was probably always the main spiritual and religious center of Great Zimbabwe. The hill complex is also where the king kept many of his treasures. He could also look out onto his land from up high.

large_IMG_7829.jpg

P1020541.jpgP1020546.jpg

270_P1020526.jpgP1020527.jpg

This place was cool.
IMG_7833.jpgP1020536.jpg
It was where you could look out and see the "kingdom"
P1020537.jpg
And the King could yell down and you get a fantastic echo back!

Down we Go... The sun is starting to set!
IMG_1518.jpgIMG_1520.jpgIMG_1522.jpg

Watch Out for the GIzillion Baboons!
large_IMG_1528.jpg

Valley Enclosures
IMG_1543.jpg

It has been estimated that there were about 50 households within these stone wall enclosures.
IMG_1533.jpg

The archaeological evidence suggests that these were the homes of the more important people, while most of the population lived in huts set close together on the periphery of the enclosures. The population for the whole of Great Zimbabwe during its heyday is estimated at between 10 000 and 18 000. Within the Valley Enclosures are the remains of dhaka huts, platforms and small towers.
P1020586.jpg

The Great Enclosure: This is the largest single ancient structure south of the Sahara.
P1020592.jpg

P1020594.jpg
The perimeter wall is 820 feet in circumference and 36 feet high, and it is estimated that nearly a million granite blocks were used in its construction. The roughly oval-shaped structure encloses an area 262 feet by 180 feet and contains a number of stone features, including the Conical Tower.

90_P1020593.jpg90_IMG_1548.jpg

The inner wall of this passage was originally built as the perimeter wall; the massive outer wall was constructed later, surmounted by monoliths and decorated with two courses of chevron pattern high up on the external face in the area of the Conical Tower.
large_IMG_1552.jpg

90_IMG_1550.jpgIMG_1553.jpg

Well that was it for now...you know what happens next in Bulawayo already....so next post is Rhinos for sure!
P1020497.jpg

Posted by Kelly Rose 15:44 Archived in Zimbabwe Tagged zimbabwe great_zimbabwe_ruins Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 5) Page [1]