Starting out at 5am was a daunting idea at first but something I knew had to be done if we were going to reach Mount Nyangani (3-4 hour drive) in time to go up and down before the mist covered up this sacred mountain, which would increase the risk of disappearing. Yes! people have been known to disappear, and our guide, Stewart was quick to mention that the last person to disappear was an 'Indian guy' in 2014.
So our driver Tendai was on time to pick me up at my house at 5am, and we were well on our way to Mt Pleasant, a neighbourhood in Harare to collect Maddie, Wendy, Ella, Sebastian and James. These guys came from the United States last week to volunteer building a classroom for an Early Childhood Development school in Ngezi. The group is already involved with Kapnek Trust, one of our partners involved in the education of children as well as HIV prevention and nutrition programmes. The most inspiring thing is how Ella recruited some friends at her high school in Santa Barbara to tag along on this trip, and did I mention she is just 15 years old?
Typical of the Zimbabwean roads in the recent times, we had to go through a few police roadblocks, which don't really scare me because I always have everything they require for vehicles to have when travelling. This trip was a little different though, and we found out about a new law wherein a vehicle is not supposed to mix humans with luggage. I am still puzzled a day later and Google search has not yielded any results. We know there is no luggage without humans, but oh well, we paid the $10 fine and after 40 minutes of arguing with them, we were on our way. We all had a good laugh about it, and agreed that it makes for a better blog post!
We got to Nyanga National Park offices and paid $63 to hike the tallest mountain in Zimbabwe. I have gone up the mountain before several times, however, the experience for me starts from the offices, where baboons and monkeys cross the road in front of the car as you drive on the circular drive. The drive is so scenic that you may confuse it with the actual hike, just without using as much energy and exerting as much pressure on the muscles, if only right! We started out at 12:40, which for Mount Nyangani (nicknamed: the swallowing mountain) is pretty late as I mentioned earlier - DISAPPEAR! The first one hour is always the toughest part of the hike, and with James nursing a broken toe (he accidentally kicked a rock playing soccer with the children in Ngezi), I thought we were going to stay up there for hours on end, but to my surprise, he soldiered on like an ox. Ella is James' daughter, and she thought he was the most stubborn person for not sitting this one out, and ironically, James thought Ella was the most stubborn person in the world because she did not want to take any water, snacks or jacket up the mountain. Glad to say, she budged on the jacket and replaced water with juice. Turns out she did not need the water because along with Stewart (our guide), she drank from the flowing spring water. I of course told her about the healing qualities of this natural water!
On the way back to the National Park offices, we had to pass through the pit structures for our group to see a reconstructed traditional household. I am always fascinated by how inventive traditional societies were, and the pit structures show just how much! So the head of the household would dig a tunnel that would go under his hut, into a round pit where all his animals would congregate at night. This prevented predators like Hyenas from eating his livestock, genius right? Surrounding his hut and the pit were granaries, a hut for the boys, another for the girl children, and of course depending on how rich he was, several houses for the different wives. James couldn't help but mention how attractive that system was for that era hahah! It is a good thing his wife was not with him for this trip!
We got to Troutbeck Resort, where we were spending the night around 6pm, and a much needed shower had to be had if we were going to feel human again. We had worked out an appetite and needed a dinner of champions. Nothing short of a buffet would have done the trick, and this resort had just what we needed - from the greens for the health fanatics, to loading up carbs and protein and then of course several dessert options, which we all appreciated. The free WiFi and electric blankets made for the best lodging option on this side of the country.
As I sit in my huge room watching the Lions vs New Zealand replay that I missed, I am enjoying the electric blanket so much I do not want to go for breakfast (and I love me some good food, so that says something). Alas! I have to eat and get back on the road to pass through Mutarazi Falls, the tallest waterfall in Zimbabwe and 6th tallest in the world.
Tell your friends and family about our initiatives. There's no better way to make an impact than to become an active advocate yourself. Write for us and make an impact!