Gonarezhou: Vast & Magnificent (Part 2)

gonarezhou zimbabwe tourism authority zta zimshoppingmalls 2

THE previous article on Gonarezhou National Park attracted a lot of feedback from readers. One interesting feedback was from a South Africa based reader, Mr Zeph Noya who shared a piece of history.

He submitted: “Soshangana (Manukosi Nxumalo) the Nguni king stayed at Chilojo Cliffs before proceeding to Gaza in Mozambique. The cliffs enabled Soshangana’s regiments to detect the enemy from afar. The worst and most feared enemy of Soshangana during that century was Shaka and his battalion.”

There goes history. While not disputing or endorsing Soshangana’s stay at Chilojo Cliffs, one interesting thing with our beautiful natural resources is that they are attached to some ‘heroes’ of African history. The ‘heroes’ are usually alien to features which they are credited to. This has seen natives of such lands cry foul how they become alienated from the natural ornaments found in their own land. That’s a topic for another day.

In the previous episode, we focused much on what Chipinda Pools offers. To wrap up the eastern region of the park, tourists might need to note that Chipinda pools has 4 fully-equipped self catering canvas lodges overlooking Runde River which have solar water heaters and solar lighting. There are other campsites with thatched shelters which are found along Runde River banks. Chinguli has 5 thatched shelters.

Coming to the southern part of the park, Mabalauta is the headquarters of the region. It has fascinating scenery. To access Mabalauta, one has three options, one using Tanganda Ngundu highway and two using Beitbridge-Masvingo highway.
With the rainy season in mind, a tourist using Tanganda-Ngundu highway has to travel for approximately 178km from Chiredzi town(via Mzembi (Triangle) – 36km, Mzembi-Mbizi – 52km, Mbizi-Boli/Mhlanguleni – 55km, Boli/Mhlanguleni-Mabalauta Turn Off – 12km, Mabalauta Turn Off-Mabalauta – 23km).

The one using Beitbridge-Masvingo highway from Masvingo can access Mabalauta turning off at Rutenga Business Centre. The trip would be 123km (Rutenga-Mbizi – 35km, Mbizi-Boli/Mhlanguleni – 55km, Boli/Mhlanguleni-Mabalauta Turn Off – 12km, Mabalauta Turn Off-Mabalauta – 23km).

The one from Beitbridge can access Mabalauta turning off at Mwenezi Business Centre. The trip would be 105km (Mwenezi Shops-Police – 4km, Police-Chikombedzi – 63km, Chikombedzi-Zhou¬ – 8km, Zhou-Gonarezhou entry¬ – 7km, Entry-Mabalauta – 23km).

The good news that recently reached us is that the Beitbridge-Chikwalakwala road which has been in bad state since 2013 received a face-lift from Beitbridge Rural District Council in partnership with ZINARA, DDF and Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development. When complete, tourists from Beitbridge might get an alternative route to Mabalauta region.

Mabalauta has 8 thatched fully equipped self catering lodges at Simuwini Rest Camp. The place is ideal for caravan camping. The camp is close to the Mwenezi River. Many species of wildlife including the small to the big five game can be viewed from this region. Gonarezhou’s incorporation into The Great Limpopo Trans-frontier Park enables animals to roam freely within the peace parks.

Mabalauta expects to get a boost in tourist arrivals during the regional Great Limpopo Cultural Trade Fair that is held every year at Boli Muhlanguleni Business Centre in Chiredzi South. Boli Muhlanguleni is adjacent to Gonarezhou National Park. Four countries, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique usually exhibit there. Delegates have a choice to book either at Mabalauta Camp or opt for rural tourism.

Mabalauta region is synonymous with the history of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle. It is the area where famous nationalists were detained at the now depleted Gonakudzingwa Detention Camp just near Sango Border Post. During his visit of the area end of last year, Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Phelekezela Mphoko whose guerrilla war name was Report during his detention at the camp suggested that Gonakudzingwa Detention Camp should be resuscitated as a historical monument to cater for domestic tourism.

The story of Gonarezhou can’t be complete without the mentioning of Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS). In 2010, FZS entered into a $14 million ten year partnership with ZimParks to do capacity building and management of the wildlife reserve. It also caters for the marketing of Chilojo Cliffs.

Private tourism players like Bubye Conservancy, Bubiana Conservancy, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Save Valley Conservancy, Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, Chiredzi River Conservancy, Malipati Safari Area and Manjinji Pan Sanctuary have complimented or benefitted from the existence of Gonarezhou National Park.

Gonarezhou National Park really deserves one’s holiday making.


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