Deeper, and deeper, into Africa!

The HAC Caravan lifts effortlessly and we wing our way over the neat cluster of high rise buildings that puncture Harare’s CBD, surrounded in the south by sprawling fast growing hi-density suburbia- row upon row of little box houses standing in the baking sun- I hope the trees that were razed to accommodate them are soon replaced by home -owners with some vision of a greener shadier place for their children to play…

Flying low over patchwork green and tan centre pivots, I am inspired by the graphic circles – some functioning and some mere relics of intensive rich agriculture…..a few abstract paintings may result…..

Seemingly within minutes, riding higher and hardly noticing the turbulence of the puffy white clouds that we plunge through, we drop over the tumultuous Mavuradona Mountains and into an airstrip in Mana Pools, well kept, with impala waiting to greet us at the end of the runway! A safari vehicle is on hand to whisk some of our passengers to their safari camp and then we are on our way again, two masterful young pilots at the helm giving confidence as we wing our way over mopani scrubland and jutting baobabs. Up and out of the Mana flood plain and towards the Matusadona Hills. First sight of the giant inland Lake Kariba, winking at me on the horizon, is always a thrill. Memories and adrenaline on spotting that awesome body of water from a distance- evoking childhood train rides from Harare to the south coast of Durban and our first excited vision of blue ocean and white rollers.

A quick stop on Kariba airstrip to collect eggs and green vegetables and we take off again. Two stately baobabs, still in leaf from the late rains I guess, and lovingly preserved on the open airstrip, bid us Bon Voyage – underneath one of them two ground hornbills strut, unconcerned by our noisy passing…

fascinating birds to sketch

fascinating birds to sketch

They intrigue and inspire me, whether on the ground or in magnificent white-tipped flight…

Southern ground hornbill

Southern ground hornbill -painting by Lin Barrie, acrylic on canvas,

Flying up the Kariba Lake, we pass Spurwing Island, Fothergill Island and the Sengwe Gorge. I am always enthralled by the vastness of this ‘inland sea’. Mopani-clad mountains flank the sea’s grassy shores, populated by elephants galore, and shallow waters where nurseries of baby fish, herons and crocodiles abound, in turn lead to deep mysterious water, home to Nyami Nyami the river God,

Nyami Nyami

Nyami Nyami

and home to the magnificent fighting tiger fish which set angler’s hearts racing…

gorgeous and fierce tigerfish...

gorgeous and fierce tigerfish…

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge is set high on a hill and we circle around the magnificent view, above Starvation Island and past numerous elephants pottering on the foreshore, waterbuck and impala in deeper grass, to land on the well kept airstrip. Greeted by safari guides and vehicles, and with grateful farewell to our pilots Simon and Adam, we are whisked up to the lodge- I have visited many moons ago but am entranced anew by the warm welcome, the cool facecloth, the gorgeous entrance, and most especially the view forever over the infinity pool to the vast blue-grey lake spread below…

infinity....

infinity….

Tropical gardens and ambience are present in spades. Someone remarks that this could be Mexico!

bright hibiscus at Bumi

bright hibiscus at Bumi

I get a feeling of some of the Florida gardens and poolsides I have seen in boutique hotels in Miami- this being a gentler, more subtle version complete with coconut palm and butterflies on the edge of infinity……

the edge of infinity...

the edge of infinity…

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But this is not Florida, these are African butterflies, dozens of species in one view, plus African vervet monkeys peering from leafy growth, baboons lurking with intent, and inquisitive tree squirrels..

…this is Deeper Africa!

I never tire of sketching baboons...such characters...

I never tire of sketching baboons…such characters…

And the view past the palm tree is of quintessential Africa: herds of elephants on the edge of the lake water…

Elephant sketch by Lin Barrie

Elephant sketch by Lin Barrie

 

Entrancing as the view is and comfortable as the rooms are (each with individually spectacular views), after an anti-poaching debrief by Mark Brightman and his team from Bumi Hills Anti Poaching Unit (BHAPU), we can’t wait to board two boats back down at the waters edge to explore the inlets and submerged trees. Our crew includes Will Smith and Shelley Cox, part of a “Deeper Africa”  initiative called Zimbabwe: Conservation and Culture safari…They have already visited Somalisa Camp in Hwange National Park.

We are accompanied by a journey of journalists and publicists from USA – all part of a tourism initiative to market “Deeper Africa” to American guests who want to get more interest and value out of their African travel- emphasizing community conservation.

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As we leave the harbour a mother hippo and her tiny baby rise to blow and stare at us as we float past, seemingly unthreatened by a nearby crocodile, a LARGE one, who may or may not be watching us as well…..

a joy for me to be on the waters of Kariba again...

a joy for me to be on the waters of Kariba again…

Butterflies again, now a steady stream of golden and black beauties, African monarchs, flutters low over the calm water and all going one way.

htfal08.jpg

But to where I wonder…I know the Monarchs migrate vast distances in Northern and Central America, but here in Africa I think any migrations are more localized… And apparently there are some usurpers among them, the diadems, who robe themselves in the same vibrant colours to kid would-be predators that they too are poisonous!

Clive Stockil ,winner of the Prince William Award for a Lifetime Achievement in Conservation, takes time to answer penetrating conservation and community questions from the team;

Clive shares his thoughts on conservation...

Clive shares his thoughts on conservation…

Sundown brings cool glasses of wine…

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Fish catching is fun for all-some of us concentrate more on a good glass of wine than actually fishing….Cheers!

Will Smith, with Shelley Cox approaching over the lilac sunset waters…..Will Smith, with Shelley Cox approaching over the lilac sunset waters.....

reflections...

reflections…

My fish is the first of the day- a tiny bream smaller than the worm on my hook that it was trying to swallow! I am happy to see it easily swim away after I detach the hook.

Shelley totally upstages me and catches a large bream..

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After that squeakers galore are hauled in and cautiously released, respect being given to their fierce spines! Or is it always the same enterprising squeaker, returning again and again to the delicious worms offered?!

fisherman in the sunset..

fisherman in the sunset..

 

Goliath heron and a great white patrol the reeds nearby and a fish eagle perches in stately silhouette as the setting sun turns the water first lilac, then gold. As if by signal, as the sun expends its last glow, the surface of gold is suddenly punctuated by hundreds, thousands of tiny rises, kapenta fish leaping gently to break the surface and immediately packs of hunting dragon flies swarm above them. Are they all feeding on tiny gnats or other little things that we can not see?

The boat ride back to shore is in deep cool dusk, the Southern cross and my favourite star Sirius, the Dog Star, bright above us.

Morning brings a sweet sunrise view from my room balcony,

sweet sunrise

sweet sunrise

accompanied by a cup of fresh made filter coffee. Elephants are always visual on this shore in some form or another-a joy and a worry- endangered globally as they are. We need to responsibly protect and nurture these last great pockets of wild- living elephants.

The team dash off after breakfast to view three lions close by and then to walk with the Bumi Hills Anti Poaching Unit, to understand better how that crew of dedicated guys operate.

This is one of the male lions they found, interacting with a female and challenged by another male…..

photo.JPG

I have a tension headache three days old, perhaps a come down after the intense efforts of my recent spray painting job on the aeroplane. So I opt for a neck and back massage, lying prone and listening to the ground hornbills in the distance as Rutendo eases the aches out of my muscles. Bliss.

After that of course I need to retire to my room and shower, and test the view from the bed in daylight…

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Wow! stunning- as I lie on my bed I can see elephants gathering on the foreshore and bathing in the lake. This is truly elephant paradise. Three young bulls spend at least an hour wallowing – I hear the splashing from my high balcony!

Then I jump up and run to the edge of the balcony to get a better look as a high pitched trumpeting announces the arrival of a cow herd. I know that pitch- likely they have a very new calf… And sure enough from the cover of the mopani trees breaks a party of elephants led by a tiny baby running fast! He is hotly pursued by a half grown sibling and his mum, with a dozen others trailing behind!

I realize he is making for two lone elephants who stand a way off towards the waters edge… And his mum seems intent on halting him! Which she soon does- she and the half grown catch up to him and wheel in front of him, blocking his path with their bodies and trunks as he skids to a halt. At the same time the two loners rapidly approach and an elaborate greeting takes place, all circling the little one in their midst and much touching of trunks…is this the first time since his recent birth that he has been introduced to them – or was he running so fast because he knew them from a previous meeting?

the tiny baby is visible in this group....

the tiny baby is visible in this group….to the right of the tight clump of elephants!

It soon becomes obvious that the protective circle will not be allowing him be allowing him near the water edge-they all stay well back and keep him playing in their midst.

I spend the whole morning watching and pondering elephants.

Elephants, elephants, elephants….

Loxodonti, acrylic on stretched canvas lo res.JPG

It seems to me that elephants are the really strong thread through the Deeper Africa community conservation theme that we are exploring…of course we are looking at whole ecosystems: wild dogs and baobabs, communities and culture, food and tradition, but in the eventual analysis it is all about SPACE for every link in the chain to exist, and no single animal or plant in that chain needs SPACE more than the iconic elephant.

It is indeed the ‘elephant in the room…!’

loxodontus, acrylic on stretched canvas lo res.JPG

 

BHAPU224158_181633288553163_3680696_n and VFAPU

are tirelessly protecting elephants…in Victoria Falls/Hwange and Kariba…victoria-falls-anti-poaching-unit-01.jpg

Somalisa Camp in Hwange National Park is known for up close and personal viewing of elephants…

zimbabwe-matabeleland-north-province-hwange-national-park-somalisa-fm7f5b.jpg

Gonarezhou National Park, encompassing the magnificent Chilojo Cliffs,  is truly “The Sacred Totem, or Amulet, of the Elephants” as suggested in its native name. Here elephants, giants in themselves, are dwarfed by the towering Chilojo Cliffs as they cross the Runde River…..

elephants crossing the Runde river -lo res.jpg

 

Anthony Kaschula of Gonarezhou Bushcamps gives guests in depth tracking and understanding of these gentle giants in Gonarezhou National Park, Gallery | Gonarezhou Bush Camps.jpg

and Frankfurt Zoological Society provides invaluable support systems to the park management…such as tracker dogs,scout training and field work..

frankfurt elephant.jpg

Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge sits high over the Save River on the edge of Gonarezhou National Park, on the edge of serenity…

Adenium multiflorum blooming at Chilo, Save River in background...

with surreal and fantastic views of elephants from the high decks….as in this photograph by Steph Walton at Chilo…

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This area, part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA), belongs to Chief Mahenye, with a rich cultural history. His Changana Community have historically  been hunter/gatherers, efficient conservationists in their own right and protectors of a vibrant culture of music, dance. beadwork and hut painting.

Here is my large oil painting of a Changana man dancing…

Changana man- oil painting on canvas by Lin Barrie lo res.JPG

Changana people use the natural pigments found in the soil, and tree ash, to create stunning hut paintings…gltfca-hunter-hut-painting-lo-res

a traditional fish trap…

Changana fish trap lo res .JPG

this is the gorgeous beadwork on their dancing skirts…

beadwork 1 -lo res.JPG

 

 

Chief Mahenye’s people live daily with elephants, and practice true community conservation..

Gonarezhou…and all our National Parks, are places of endless elephant footprints, elephant history, and hopefully a bright elephant future….!

elephant footprint.JPG

gona re zhou ele footprints.JPG

 

 

 

 

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About wineandwilddogs

Lin Barrie The Save Valley Conservancy stretches along the upper reaches of the great Save River in the south east of Zimbabwe. The Gonarezhou National Park laps against the southern banks of the Save River and between these two nestles the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. These three celebrated wildlife areas form part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, (GLTFCA)- a unique wilderness jewel which is home to the “Big Five” (endangered Black and White rhinos, elephants, buffalo, lion, leopard) and the ”Little Six” (Klipspringer, Suni, Duiker, Steenbok, Sharpe's Grysbok and Oribi). Endangered African wild dogs, Cheetah, Brown hyena, Bat-eared foxes and a host of special birds and plants contribute to the immense variety of this ecosystem. Communities around the GLTFCA contribute to innovative partnerships with National Parks and the private sector, forming a sound base on which to manage social, economic and environmental issues. This is home to artist and writer Lin Barrie and her life partner, conservationist Clive Stockil. Expressing her hopes, fears and love for this special ecosystem with oil paints on canvas, Lin Barrie believes that the essence of a landscape, person or animal, can only truly be captured by direct observation. Lin Barrie states: “Through my art, and my writing, I feel an intimate connection with the natural world, and from my extensive field sketches of wild animals, people and landscapes, I create larger works on canvas. Lin's work is in various public and private collections in South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Australia, England, Canada, Sweden and the United States of America. She is represented by galleries in South Africa, Zimbabwe, England, Kenya and Florida, USA.
This entry was posted in adventure travel, Aeroplane art, Africa, African child, African flora, African Safari, African wild dogs, african wildlife, african wildlife conservation fund, aircraft, animal rights, anti poaching, art, beauty, bio diversity, birding, birds, Black rhinos, boutique hotels, Chilo Gorge, Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, chilojo cliffs, clive stockil, community conservation, conservation, conservation education, conservation news, conservation publication, cooking, culture, dance, eco-tourism, edible plant, education, elephants, endangered species, flowers, Flying Safaris, food culture, Frankfurt Zoological Society, gardens and flowers, gonarezhou national park, great limpopo transfrontier conservation Area, Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, Honey gatherers, Hunter gatherers, hunting, initiation rites, landscape, Lin Barrie Art, lowveld rhino Trust, painted Dogs, Painted Wolf Wines, painted wolves, Poaching, poison, predators, prey, Prince William, Prince William Award For Conservation, rhinos, rural school,, safari, Save River, travel, Tusk Trust, wetlands, White rhinos, wilderness, wildlife trade, zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Parks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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