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Wednesday 14 September

Bulawayo - Rhodes Matapos National Park - Bulawayo

I was on cooking duty today and made a fine effort of avoiding all cooking for the rest of the holiday by succeeding in burning half the toast and chucking the other half on the floor.

Today was a tour of the Rhodes Matapos National Park with Black Rhinos safari. It did not get off to a great start however because they could only supply one driver and Boz had to drive the minibus even though he was still trying to recover from the excesses of the previous night.

First of all we drove out to the recreational park. Saw out first truly wild animals, Tsessbee (a type of Antelope) on the way in. Walked up a small kopje for a view of the park and to play spot the animal. The view was quite good but the animals a bit sparse with only the Tsessebee spotted earlier and a Sable antelope in sight.

Went back down to the minibuses and drove onto Cecil Rhodes' grave (that guy who decided he wanted to own most of Southern Africa and then proceeded to do so). This is at a place called World's View. We climbed a short way up to the top of the kopje to the grave. There are also two other graves up here one belonging to Leander Starr Jameson (leader of the infamous Jameson raid) and the other to the first prime minister of Southern Rhodesia (whose name is unimportant right now). There was a man at the grave feeding lizards by hand.

He has been doing this for 30 years and the lizards seem to enjoy it, as do the humans. There is also a memorial to Allan Wilson and his men at the top of the hill. This was a raiding party who tried to fight the local Matabele people and lost.

Drove off to have a very nice lunch, both because we didn't have to prepare it ourselves and the fact it was a bit more adventurous than normal including coleslaw and potato salad. During lunch Boz enlivened proceedings by informing us of all the lethal accidents that had occurred on similar tours in the past. Did you know that if you fall off the truck and get run over by it, you die? Or that getting malaria miles from anywhere isn't a good idea either. Then it was off to view some cave paintings where our Dutch friends succeeded remarkably well in getting in the way.

We proceeded to the game park, the primary purpose of our visit to which is to view White Rhino in the wild. After only 500m we saw rhino lying in the bushes and it seemed more like a safari park. I took a photo but I doubt that it will look much more than a rock since it was some distance away. Then onto a small lake with hippo and impala.

There was also a kingfisher here who we watched fishing (as they do) for a while, and round to a viewing platform from where giraffe, wildebeest and warthog could be seen. After leaving here we nearly ran over a giraffe with a death wish which was crossing the road in front of us.

We had afternoon tea (very civilized tour this) by a lake with more hippo and lots of crocodiles.

Also saw a kite here and went to great lengths trying to photograph it flying which were only partially successful. On the way back I spotted 2 white rhino scrubbing around in the undergrowth, but it was not possible to photograph them and they had disappeared by the time the other mini-bus had arrived. Then saw some more giraffes in the middle of the road

and finally just as we were about to leave the park, 2 white rhino at a reasonable distance. This time I'm sure that they we at least look like animals in my photo.

Drove back to Bulawayo, ate tea, drank some beer and went to bed

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