Mt Binga (2440m), Chimanimani NP

 

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// Nikon D7200 |-19.7885 : 32.99436 | alt. 1333m

We only had to drive 400kms today, but somehow, we still didn’t manage to cover that distance during the day. Eiji and Chizu visited the ruins in the morning, and we then left around noon.
Instead of taking the fastest route, we took a detour on the east of the lake Mutirikwi, drove on top of the dam, and all of a sudden, the flat landscape shifted into huge boulders, massive granit domes with tiny farms at their feet, beautiful !
At this point, I was so tired I could not hold the wheel anymore, and we stopped for a quick rest below a giant baobab. Just enough time to recover, we have only 2 hours of sunshine left !

Back on the road, we drove on a huge suspended bridge, looking really clean (but holding no more than 23 tons at once). This was a surprising sight, when you look at the complete lack of infrastructure in the rest of the country :/
The highway is then making a T junction in front of a small mountain range (first mountain since South Africa !). I don’t have enough fuel anyway to drive around, so we took the shortcut, a 40kms gravel road cutting the mountain in a straight line…… well that was fun 😀 When I made it back to the tar road, waiting for my dust trail to clear out, I realized Eiji and Chizu were not behind me, not even at radio range !
I waited half an hour, then I drove a bit further to gain some altitude and tried again, until I finally made contact (50kms away !) :p
Ok, now we can proceed to our final destination : Chimanimani national park, at the end of a 18kms gravel road, this time during the night.
This is where we met Felistas, Thomas and his son Taku. They are the friendly caretakers of this campsite, and next morning they made tea and breakfast for us. We spent the whole morning chatting about things, and since Thomas is guide, he told us we should hike the mountains tomorrow. Sounds good to me, I came here for that !
As usual in Africa, no accurate map and no data to plan the trip. Tomorrow’s target is Mt Binga (2436m), 1100m above our location. Since I have no idea of the distance to cover, I decided to use the afternoon to climb the first ridge and see the whole trail (if possible). That’s also a great way to wake your body before a tough hike.

Eiji and Chizu went for a hike as well, behind us, going on top of the first ridge. Thomas is not really keen to let them behind but they insisted since they’re a bit slow. His son Taku, 10yo, was guiding me to the first hut (1.5hrs from base camp), and I was sure he would then turn back.
Not just yet !
When Thomas catched up with us, we took a different pace and we all went to the top ! 2.5hours to climb Binga, doing only a one 5min stop to refill our bottles in a stream.
I am still very impressed by this little kid, summiting Binga for his first time ! He’s a bit tired, but I know a lot of people without the stamina to make it.
Lunch on top, sadly, not much view because of the more or less controlled fires in Mozambique, hidding the rest of the range, and obviously, the Indian ocean.
3hrs to get back to basecamp, that was a fairly long hike 😀 and I’m glad I didn’t lose my training from Vancouver !
I have to say you usually have to pay for your guide, but Thomas didn’t ask for anything and guided me for free. I obviously gave him a good tip, plus cigarette paper and filters, since I cannot find my tobacco anyway, that made his day !

Back at basecamp, we met a british couple overlanding Southern Africa, and they joined us for a few beers in the evening. (they even kept a beer in their fridge for me, since my van was in the shade, I could not recharge my batteries), very thankful for that !
Definitely one place to visit in Zimbabwe 🙂

Next few days, we drove back to Bulawayo, same campground, and since it was Eiji’s birthday, I did again some stuffed tomatoes in our cast iron bbq, with cakes and wine 🙂
Life in Africa is a different world, where you have to share space with dangerous wildlife.
Since 3 days now, a cat is roaming around our bbq, and already stole 2 cookies….. panic is spreading across our campsite.
Finally found the culprit on our last night, naughty black kitty !

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