Recently, we had the pleasure of hosting Fungai Machirori. Fungai is a well-known Zimbabwean creative with a passion for writing and photography. Below, she describes her experience at Matobo Hills Lodge.
On 30 July, I was ready to join other Zimbabweans in casting my vote in the harmonised and much-anticipated elections. After some time, I was standing at the front of the voters’ line, ready to have my details checked. The last thing I expected was to be told that I was ineligible to vote. The reason? My name appeared twice in his mammoth book of voters. Unbelievable!
Perplexed and frustrated, I was instructed to go and stand in another line which, I soon discovered, was reserved for disqualified voters. As my frustration escalated, I took to Twitter and began venting about my disheartening experience. I also felt an overwhelming need to let others in the Twitterverse know what I was going through. Unsurprisingly, much of the reactions to my ordeal was apologetic and empathetic. I deeply appreciated that.
Little did I anticipate what was to happen next.
On the next day, I received a message from Matobo Hills Lodge saying that they had read about my voting experience and wanted to invite me for a free stay at their Lodge. I was as excited as I was overly surprised. And, as if this out-of-the-blue gesture wasn’t delightful enough, I could bring a friend with me. At no additional cost!
Matobo Hills Lodge
And so it was that I got to stay at Matobo Hills Lodge, which is within Matobo National Park, for three nights in August. We arrived quite early on a Friday afternoon and were treated to some complimentary coffee while the sun made its way to its highest point in the sky. The silence around us, expect for occasional sounds made by nearby lizards scrambling for the best spot in the sun, was captivating. It was pleasant and so too, was the soothing taste of freshly brewed coffee.
Unable to resist the warmth of the sun, I made my way to the poolside loungers near the swimming pool which is located between the bar area and the open restaurant. This quickly became my favorite spot for reflecting and jotting down my plans for the day, sometimes with a cup of coffee and other times, with a shandy.
Saturday was occupied mostly by activities which included going on game drives. Our chatty guide, Sipho, made us aware of a variety of things in and about our environment. He told us about the dried-out dung of a rhino or a plant amid the harsh savannah landscape that had some historical and medicinal qualities. Who knew?
As we continued with our enlightening drive in the National Park, we were finally able to spot white rhino in the reserve and get quite close to it. The adrenaline rush was intoxicating! In addition to game viewing, we visited the caves such as Silozwane which house some of the world’s most magnificent rock paintings. These paintings, which depict the way of life of the Bushmen, are said to be between 1500 and 10000 years old. Learning about the historical and cultural significance of the rock art was edifying.
Silozwane Cave, Matobo National Park
After a drive back to Matobo Hills Lodge, for a hearty 3-course lunch which was as scrumptious as it was appealing to the eye, we headed out to see the grave of Cecil John Rhodes. The visit to the grave of man admired by some and loathed by others, evoked an inexplicable rush of different emotions for everyone.
Cecil J. Rhodes’ grave on Malindidzimu Hill – Matobo National Park
The nice thing about the visit to Malindidzimu Hill, the Hill of the benevolent spirits on which Cecil is buried, was that it was a perfect spot for an enthralling sundowner. We watched the sun set, while our guide continued to entertain us with his theories on how tribal and racial conflicts occurred in the area over a century ago.
The service at Matobo Hills Lodge was always reliable and the staff, friendly. Kudos to the team! My companion and I got to know some of the staff members quite well from the constant, friendly interactions.
Aerial view of Matobo Hills Lodge
Besides all this, one could take lone treks to other sites such as Matabele Cave where the remains of molded wares could be found. During the walks, I couldn’t resist the urge to sit on the imposing boulders, look out into the wide-open expanse and do some more reflecting.
On our last evening, we even got a taste of wildebeest! I enjoyed a long evening swim in the pool on the last evening, which was just what the doctor ordered for a tranquil end to a tranquil time.
Saying I enjoyed being at Matobo Hills Lodge is an understatement. No words can truly encapsulate the time I had, though shortlived. Through it all, I was reminded that you never know who is out there in the Twitterverse, waiting to turn your bad day or experience into an adventure you never expected. An adventure you’ll never forget!
Thank you, Matobo Hills Lodge!
This article was originally published by Fungai Machirori on her website, Fungaineni. Fungai is a blogger and lover of travel. She enjoys reading, writing and reflecting on life. Connect with Fungai on Twitter.