Park update 22nd June – Gonarezhou National Park is in the South of Zimbabwe – This is one of the wildest most stunning parks in the region. It is Zimbabwe’s second largest National Park.

Good morning from a clear but “chilly” Chipinda Pools. The Zimbabwean lowveld is undeniably in the clutches of winter. The mammals of Gonarezhou are wearing thicker, longer and warmer pelts, the night is empty of the squeaks and clicks of bats, and the signs of snakes have disappeared as they shelter in warmth of their winter hideouts. The mornings are crisp, the days mostly clear and warm, with fresh evenings and deep night harboring the bite of the cold – we say cold but… it’s all relative really, and secretly, it’s one of our most favorite times in the Gonarezhou!

Chilojo cliffs Gonarezhou

By the time winter sets in the slashing and clearing of Park roads is usually well and truly finished, with Mr “Mahalf” on to yet another important task within the Park. This year however, due to the Covid-19 shutdown, Mahalf began clearing the summer growth of Gonarezhou’s roads just last month. Hailing from Chipinda Village (on the south bank of the Runde, near the Broken Bridge) Mahalf, began his career as a tractor driver in the sugar estates and inherited his nickname from his father, the mason who built many of the signs around Gonarezhou National Park. His father earned the nickname for his slow, careful and meticulous style of building – half and half. With 1,500km of annual slashing and clearing to be carried out by Mahalf, Lamack and their hardworking tractor at an average of a 30km cleared each day, their work too is slow and so the “Half-Half” nickname has stuck. The work takes Mahalf and Lamack to some of the most remote and unused roads in the Park – it is thanks in part to these men that the roads are navigable after the rains and visitors are able to find their way through the vast wilds of Gonarezhou without their radiators being clogged with grass seeds. Without Mahalf and Lamack’s efforts, the scourge of off-road driving, while vehicles attempt to find the right route or weave around fallen trees, would eventually start to destroy the pristine wilderness that is Gonarezhou. It is easy to overlook the work that goes into keeping our roads navigable each year, and the work that Mahalf, Lamack and the other roads teams do in Gonarezhou – one of the many diverse facets of a conservation landscape!

On other projects, the work at Chinguli is nearing completion and the renovations at Chipinda Pools tented camps are taking shape. With the roads now prepped by Mahalf and his team and the infrastructure projects on track – we look forward to welcoming guests back into the Park to enjoy this incredible piece of Zimbabwean Wilderness.

This article was first seen on the Gonarezhou Park FB Page

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