THRILLS, SPILLS AND HILLS IN MATOPOS
Livingstone Tent: Matt Stanford, Luca Giannoccaro and Michael “grandpa” Geyser
We’ve had an amazing week filled with an insight into architecture, an official start on our group projects and three intense days of cycling in the Matopas National Park, followed by an unforgettable mountain climb. Finally to end off our awesome experience we were given the chance to go rock climbing.
We began our week on Monday with group projects and an insight into architecture. This then led us to an unfinished hide in Quiet Waters, the completion of which is likely to become one of the projects.
Tuesday morning we set off for Matopas, arriving at Rowallen campsite. We set up camp except for Hugo whose tent is unfortunately broken,…… and he forgot his sleeping bag……. and cooking utensils.
We set off on our first cycle that afternoon towards Cecil John Rhodes’ grave. The cycle was tough for some and easy for others as it was all on tar, which dubbed well for Matthew Wicht as he out paced all of us. Rhodes’ grave was very interesting as we got an insight into the History of Rhodes and why he was buried there. The view was spectacular. Most of the time was spent posing for photos on the big boulders while others spent some of their time trying to catch some of the very tame, brightly coloured lizards. Matthieu successfully caught a lizard, but much to his surprise the lizard did not cooperate and in its excitement wee’d all over him.
The following day we set off on an all day cycle, which inevitably resulted in a couple crashes but none severe. On route we stopped at a beautiful dam, Mtshelele where some of us decided to swim and the others took a quick nap. However Mr.Marffy unknowingly decided to take a nap next to a snake. Fortunately both were suitably alarmed at the sight of one another and both moved in the opposite direction! After the dam we arrived at a small shop along the road which all the guys flooded into, to buy as many bananas and sweets as possible. The local children found good humor and excitement in having visitors and photos taken of them. After that we headed off to the ‘Silozwe Cave’, which was an incredible place, filled with paintings from the ancient indigenous people. It looked like something out of a movie; the paintings seemed to tell stories as we looked at them. One of the boys even managed to spot an incredibly delicate dragonfly or flying ant painting, which was pretty cool. Of course this was another opportunity for everyone to take and pose for many photos.
We cycled back along the road and headed toward a huge ‘gommo’. We all left our daypacks and took our hiking backs and set off to summit Silozwe. The climb was rather vertical… every step was up. We climbed and climbed and eventually saw what we thought to be the summit… yet we were wrong. There was another larger steeper climb to do. Some guys found the climb rather difficult and the faster guys who were up first went down to help carry the bags of the slower few. We all walked up to the real summit together. The view from the top was indescribable. We could see for miles and miles. We made it in time to sit back and watch the sunset. Some sat and stared, some played harmonica and others lay down to recover from the hike. One thing that amazed most of us was the stars. Not only are they amazing every night here at Quest but up there, somehow ‘closer’ to the sky with no electric for miles, it was something else, as we could see far beyond any hill or outcrop. The lack of clouds made it a perfect star gazing spot.
The night was cold, and as Hugo did not have a sleeping bag, he decided to wear every item of clothing he had in his possession. In the morning we all stayed in our sleeping bags and watched the sun rise. The top of the gommo was covered in tufty dry grass and resurrection grass, where most of us set up our beds. The leaders had their own fire and decided to have a hot brew in the morning so they relit their fire. The wind decided to pick up in the morning air, and… change direction…. which resulted in a coal rolling along the rock into some dry grass. Within seconds the dry grass had become a blazing furnace. Mr. Marffy and Mr. M thought quickly and threw their recently made coffee and porridge on the blaze, yet it unfortunately did nothing. We quickly checked the perimeter to see if the fire could spread and luckily there was a good rock boundary which stopped it spreading. We all learnt that fire can spread quickly and be uncontrollable in such a wind.
Once the fire was safely out we made a start on our decent. Once down a few guys got called to run back up to the false summit as they had left some rubbish (stompies!) on the top. Eventually they made their way back down. Back onto the bicycles and off to our campsite at Rowallen. The ride had fewer checkpoints as we knew the way back and luckily it went back onto the narrow tar roads. The cycle back was quite entertaining as some of us decided to work together and slipstream. Unfortunately we could not catch up to Matthew W! After a bit of a break and recovering we packed up camp and set off to Shumba Shava where we would do rock climbing. Again with the most beautiful views we all sat on a large rock looking over vast Zimbabwe. The evening was filled with good chat around the fire and a great dinner barbeque by the kitchen duty guys.
In the morning we had our turn having a nice hot shower and after we headed in two separate groups to do rock climbing. Three different climbs were on offer we all managed to do the first two climbs, which were an intro into climbing. The more confident climbers attempted the third, more challenging, climb. From the first group only three were able to complete it. From the second group all but two managed to complete it. After a lot of relaxing we packed up camp and headed back to Quest. Saturday morning was spent catching up on journals for those who have not been keeping up to date. The rest of the weekend was spent sleeping and recuperating after a tiring week.