One of the least frequently visited but most spectacular parks of Zimbabwe is Gonarezhou National Park. Sharing its border with Mozambique and being in a dry area means that the animals living in the park have had a hard time over the past decades. During the war this area was used for poaching by soldiers out of Mozambique, the park had a couple of serious droughts and animal welfare wasn’t really high on the priority list of the Zimbabwean government for a while. Even after all of this, the park is starting to flourish again and we couldn’t wait to spend a couple of nights in it.
At the river in Gonarezhou
Gonarezhou is that rough that you definitely need a four-wheel drive. While you can drive through the rugged park from North to South we decided to stay up North. Our first stop was the Chipinda Pools campsite. We were the only ones there even though there were nine spots available at this pretty place. After a short afternoon drive, we saw our best sighting of the day at our own campsite. A couple of elephants were crossing the river and came out of it right in front of our car. We watched this spectacle while enjoying a glass of wine. The almost full moon that night did the rest to make this yet another unforgettable African bush experience.
The highlight of Gonarezhou however is situated some 40 kilometers to the South. Here you’ll find the Chilojo Cliffs, a series of huge cliffs towering high above the rest of the park. Down below the Runde river runs right along the cliffs. This important source of water in the river is vital for the wildlife in the park. We were lucky enough that the prettiest campsite of the park with a view on the cliffs was available that night.
Once we parked the car we got out of our chairs and enjoyed this wonderful place. One by one elephant came out of the woods to drink some water out of the river. With the cliffs in the background they seemed to be so small. The sun did his job and made the cliffs even prettier. A bit later we walked down to the dry river bed to watch all this from up close while the sun was setting.
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The next morning we enjoyed the sunset over the Chilojo Cliffs. All that excitement was soon forgotten when we turned our car key and all we heard was a ‘click’. Out of all the places where this could have happened our battery decided to go flat at this remote spot. Hooking up our solar panel to the battery didn’t work since it was so flat. Then we heard the sound of a car coming our way. Pretty unique since we didn’t see anyone in the last 24 hours. It turned out that the campsites are cleaned once a week and this happened to be the day where our campsite was cleaned.
Aaron helped us to start our engine. Not by using jumper cables, the battery was that flat, but by replacing his battery with ours. We were ‘rescued’ hehe. We did have to keep the engine running though. Easier said than done with two quite deep river crossings ahead of us. Nevertheless, we managed to make it to the Chilojo Cliffs viewpoint and took in all the surrounding beauty of the park.