Adventure Blogs

A rising star – Gonarezhou National Park

You might have heard the rumbles coming from the South East of Zimbabwe, the whispers of beauty, solidity and promise from travellers who have explored the dirt roads, watched the changing colours of the Chilojo cliffs and of course, have experienced Gonarezhou namesake, it’s elephants in their numbers. Gonarezhou National Park has a buzz about it. It is wild, varied, large and its future is very exciting.

On the back of a 10 year partnership between the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and Frankfurt Zoological Society, the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust was formed March last year. Operations, objectives and management of the park are lead by a board of six trustees – 3 Frankfurt Zoological Society representatives and 3 Parks and Wildlife representatives.

As a visitor to Gonarezhou, you will likely see few staff beyond the lady behind reception or the camp attendant quietly at work. Trust us, there is an extensive team working behind the scenes whose enthusiasm and dedication is evident to those lucky enough to see them at work. The HQ boasts a school, a clinic, a command centre where all security operations are run from, a base for the thriving Chilojo Club (an awesome educational program that reaches over 43 schools in the area, active every day of the week), a human-animal conflict resolution body, research, accounting and administration staff with a vibrant and creative workshop backing it all up. The team have ambitious projects on the go with the renovation of Swimuwini camp within the Mabalauta section of the park and touch ups of the Chipinda Pools camps underway. Excitingly and most importantly, the Trust aims to reintroduce rhino back into the park in 2019.

The rumours are true, there is a star on the rise and its name is Gonarezhou National Park. Give their page Gonarezhou Conservation Trust a follow to keep up to date with the latest news and goings on. A big thank you to all those involved for having us, in particular Callum and Krystina for feeding and entertaining us and to Scott Slatter for guiding us. We hope to be back soon.

 

An elephant bull tracks through the sandy beaches of the Runde River.

There are parts of the park completely cut off during the rains, visible only from above. Thank you so much Hugo for giving Buck the flight of a lifetime!

 

The Chilojo Club, a collaborative project between the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust and African Wildlife Conservation Fund does amazing work in the area. They run conservation and environmental classes throughout the year for grade 6s, have a scholarship program in place for promising underprivileged students and perhaps best of all, throughout second and third term take their grade 6 classes on weekly game drives in an enormous army truck turned game drive vehicle.
Interactive and engaging teaching methods are used by the dedicated Chilojo Club staff to inspire the next generation of the Parks caretakers.
A welcome sign
The workshop in many ways are the heart of the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust, keeping the vehicles and equipment in a condition that gets the rangers into the field, the tractors and road-building equipment out there creating firebreaks and opening up roads for tourism and management… often overlooked but hugely valued!
A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly but Spiwe manages to do so with the warmest smile on her face.
A light moment in the middle of a downpour. Camaraderie and trust are obvious amongst the men on the ground.
Spending 20 days in a row patrolling and camping in the bush come rain or shine, the men then go home for 10 days before beginning the cycle all over again . The anti-poaching men are as tough as nails. Serious respect!
The wide Runde River snakes around the seasonly green valley leading to the Chilojo Cliffs.
Going places…
Chilojo Cliffs from above
Chilojo Cliffs from picnic site 1