Matusadona National Park - Highly Recommended

Look, look at this ” Mike Pelham of Matusadona Conservation Trust waved his hand over a large map mounted in the Ops Room, “all these rivers here, start and finish in the National Park. We’re very lucky to have this river system. It’s one of the few national parks on the continent where so many of its rivers are pristine.” Mike smiled. “They’re completely clean.”

We’d woken in Tashinga under the Cathedral Mopane, Sycamore Figs, and Natal Mahogany to a bay painted in soft pinks and reds. Only the outstretched limbs of long-dead trees ossified by the Zambezi’s thawed waters broke the line between lake and sky. A Fish eagle perched on a petrified tree and watched a lone elephant bull pick his way slowly over the shoreline. Later, at lunch kindly hosted by Rhino Camp (thank you, it was delicious), Cher would inform us that “the Binga had blown in”. By the time we met up with Mike and Chris Chiparaushi of the MCT - a management partnership between ZimParks and African Parks - haze, brought in by the winds and annual August burns, had settled over the escarpment. It had vanished.

From the sand and grassy grazed plains of the shoreline, through the thickets of knotted scrub, up into the foundations of the beautiful, old, canopy of indigenous trees, and into the vanishing escarpment, we now climbed. Matusadona with its many clean, clear rivers, its climbing banks of hills, and its big, old, gorgeous trees is really special. If the Tonga gods ever gathered and danced, and delighted in the pure ecstasy of unbridled, unbounded movement, then Matusadona, that wilderness of water, mountains, and air, was the wellspring of that gathering. Rivers shimmered and spiraled from the rapturous footfalls. Hills sprang from the euphoric song. Animals, rocks, and grasses sprouted from the dripping sweat. The colors of the air and the trees were woven through breaths blown during the final, perfect arabesque. May those who keep it in its wild state, a state resplendent of that once, wild Tonga deity celebration of abandon, be blessed. For it is only the work of gods that could create a wilderness of water, hills, and air such as this.

The park is intact. There’s plenty of wildlife. The Tonga gods may once again be gathering. Do go and pay Matusadona your respects. We can highly recommend it. Thank you to Matusadona National Park - Zimbabwe for having us. We will definitely, definitely be back.