After leaving Seldomseen we stopped in Mutare to get some supplies – sad to see the decay in the once beautiful town of Umtali! Shoppers at the tills offered to pay for our goods with their credit cards if we would re-imburse them in dollars – such is the extent of the cash shortage in the country! ATMs run out of money by 9:00am and one may, in any event, not draw more than 20 bond notes (supposed to be equivalent to $20) at a time.
Our journey north took us down into the beautiful Honde Valley with spectacular mountain and forest scenery. We were on our way to Aberfoyle Lodge, situated amidst the extensive Aberfoyle tea plantations. The lodge is a wonderful oasis with great accommodation and every sport imaginable available for its guests. Not only that, but there are birds galore and we wasted no time in settling down at the bench on the edge of the gardens to view the Red-faced Crimsonwings and Twinspots coming to feed.
The golf course offers an opportunity to stroll along the forest edge and cross clear sparkling streams, with birds, including the rare Palm Nut Vulture aplenty. It was also fascinating to see the tea plantations, most of which are around 60 years old. The stems of these plants, which are kept to around 80cm in height are old and gnarled beyond belief – rather like an endless bonsai forest!
Our birding took us to a marshy area around a lake where we saw the elusive Marsh Tchagra and heard, but did not see, Red-chested Flufftails, despite calling and waiting motionless for ages. We also saw Red-winged Warblers, Black-winged Red Bishops (out of breeding) Red-throated Twinspots, Green-backed Woodpeckers and Magpie Mannikins. It was a great day!
From Aberfoyle, we climbed back up onto the highlands and travelled to Nyanga, where we stayed in the historic, but run down Rhodes Nyanga Hotel. This was Rhodes’ residence in Rhodesia and it is full of artefacts reflecting his life. The garden revealed Whyte’s Barbet, Livingstone’s Turaco and many Yellow-bellied Waxbills
A visit to Word’s View gave us the opportunity to see some spectacular scenery.
To be continued….
Palm Nut Vulture
Strange rock formations
At World’s View
The view from our room at Aberfoyle Lodge
The roads defy description
What a place to drive!
A White-necked Raven with its victim, a Lemon Dove
Easier to walk than to drive
Black-winged Red Bishop
Returning to the Lodge
A pair of Red-throated Twinspots and a Red-faced Crimsonwing