script> Africa Moto: Destination Guide:Things to Do in Chiredzi, Zimbabwe

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Destination Guide:Things to Do in Chiredzi, Zimbabwe

5 Reasons to Go

  • Enjoy the natural beauty of Malilangwe Forest Reserve
  • Encounter elephants at Gonarezhou National Park
  • Glamp at Singita Pamushana
  • Safari at Chilo Gorge
  • Relax at the Palm Tree Place
Guest writer Gugulethu Nyazema takes us off the beaten path to discover the natural beauty of Chiredzi in southeastern Zimbabwe. Come along and discover why the New York Times included Zimbabwe on its list of 52 Places to Go to In 2015.

After visiting Chiredzi for the first time, I can safely say it is a remarkable place to visit and well worth adding to your travel list. It's perfect for you if you are not afraid of a little sun and love nature.

Before my trip , I expected Chiredzi to be a dead town with very little to do.  But I was pleasantly surprised. It's a town in the Masvingo province, in southeastern Zimbabwe. Along with its sister town of Triangle, it is the major center of sugar production in Zimbabwe.

The name Chiredzi means ‘a place for line fishing.’ (unfortunately fishing was not on my list of activities, but certainly worth checking out.)


Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Malilangwe (which means call of the leopard) is tucked away about 20 kilometers north of the town of Chiredzi on the edge of the expansive Gonarezhou National Park . If you like natural beauty, wildlife and breath-taking views you will love Malilangwe. Built around a spectacular dam abundant with birds, wildlife and endangered species including the black rhino. With discreet and well maintained roads which increase the opportunities to encounter a wide range of wildlife including the big 5 (rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard) during a game drive.

Unfortunately it was raining during our game drive, so most the animals were hiding in the thick, dense forest of the 50 000 hectares. However during the drive, I got to see the graceful giraffes picking at some leaves whilst strutting their stuff, afterwards we seemed to have invaded the privacy and territory of  a grumpy lone bull buffalo which seemed very irritated by everything around it including us. We also came across the friends of the jungle, a herds of impalas, nyalas (first time I have seen or heard of this animal, interesting looking animal) and zebras co-existing in absolute harmony. I call this group the locals or the commoners because it does not matter which wildlife conservancy you go- you will see these friends grazing away.

The tour guide driving us through the Malilangwe Forest, interestingly referred to the impala herd as the silent goats. This particular herd consisted of mothers and their little ones and just a short distance ahead there was a brood of ready to mate female impalas looking to catch the attention to this one lucky alpha male in their company.

The other interesting group of impalas which the tour guide referred to losers because it was a boys club no females in sight. And they seemed happy content with this despite the name.
As we drove the showers got heavier and heavier and we crossed the dam, where suddenly there was a gashing of water into the air from the snorting, irritated, territorial hippos, who were enjoying some family quality time.  What seemed to be the head of the pack made a mock charge at us by menacingly opening its jaws 180 degrees wide to warn us not to come any closer to his family.
Interestingly two hippos began walking underwater and this was evident by the bubbles forming on the surface of the water. Interesting to know: hippos cannot swim, they walk in shallow waters. They are also the number of one killers of humans. Usually they kill to protect their offspring.

Since it was raining, we decided to take a break to check out the exclusive Singita Pamushana Lodge, which was located up on a hill within the Malilangwe Forest Reserve. We took a meandering drive up through the mopane forest to the lodge. When we entered the lodge, there was a natural arch made from a robust baobab tree. The views are were incredible. The decor echoed the vibrant, and bright Shangaan culture of the area with colorful textiles and artwork.

Chiredzi Crocodile Farm
Next up on our trip was a visit to the Chiredzi Crocodile Farm. Be warned though, this is not for the faint-hearted. It's home to over 17 000 crocodiles at any given time.  The funny thing about the crocodile farm is that it had sheep walking around and peeking into the artificial pond.

Yet, my all-time experience, was that someone had forgotten to close the gate to one of the ponds, so as we had just finished our visit we found ourselves face to face with two crocodiles making a run for it  (I can safely say they were at the terrible two age). I literally froze on sight, too numb with fright to do anything. Luckily one of my friends, was sane enough to call out of help and take pictures of this classic moment.
Anyway, here are 5 interesting facts, I learned from the head farmer during my visit.
  • This farm had 300 breeders with a ratio of 1 male to 10 females
  •  The female can lay up to 100 eggs at a time
  • Crocodiles can live up to 100 years. It takes a year to see if a crocodile is an albino.
  • When feeding and mating, crocodiles use seniority to coordinate themselves.
  • They are slaughtered at three to four years in order for their skin to be suitable and valuable enough to be turned into your chic handbags, wallet, shoes and belts.

Palm Tree Place

The last couple of days of my visit to Chiredzi were very hot and humid. And I remember feeling so fried by the merciless sun. Fortunately there was an oasis called Palm Tree Place. If you are tired of the heat and the humidity of the south east lowveldt, Chiredzi. This is by far the best places in town.

True to its name, the restaurant and bar are  in the heart of palms trees such as the cycads, fish tale palm and travelers palm among other  mixed and matched plants that were beautifully placed (at least the heat and humidity of Chiredzi is good for the growing of grand trees). The place has a soothing effect on the body, mind and soul. The cooling effect works outside going inward, it cools the body, the mind and slowly works to the soul. Coupled with the fresh food and drink served by the restaurant. It is difficult to leave this place.


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