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Umfurudzi & Mavuradonha Wilderness 2021

3 to 10 October 2021

 

Destinations

Umfurudzi 

Formed in 2010, Umfurudzi Park (Pvt) Ltd is a joint venture between Zimparks and Unifreight with the aim to rehabilitate, conserve and operate the Umfurudzi Safari area.  The Safari area covers 760 sq km, approximately 100km northeast of Harare in the Shamva district of Mashonaland Central. The Park has about 80km of the Mazowe River on its eastern and southern boundaries, 35km of the Gwetera River on the northern boundary, and the Masziva community on the western boundary.

Umfurudzi has rich biodiversity. The vegetation is diverse, ranging from Mopani, Baobab, Combretum and Brachystegia woodlands to open savannah. This diversity is unique and is therefore able to support a large spectrum of wildlife. The riverine vegetation is a mix of highveld and Lowveld tree species. Grass and herbaceous species are abundant, allowing relatively high carrying capacities for grazing animals.

The geology is predominantly granite, with large kopjes and dwallas dominating the central and southern parts of the Park. The north has large hill features and the northwest is open flat savannah country.

In 2010, a survey was conducted to quantify the animal species and numbers that existed in the Park. It was ascertained that numbers were very low and certain species were threatened with extinction within the Park. It was decided to actively restock the Park over a three-year period to build numbers of existing species as well as reintroduce species that had been wiped out. A total of some 1800 animals of 12 different species were reintroduced between 2011 and 2013.

Major herbivores occurring in the Park include Elephant, Buffalo, Sable Antelope, Roan Antelope, Tsessebe and Hippo. Predators are represented by Leopard, Hyena and smaller cats.

Umfurudzi is a very scenic Park and is dotted with several points of interest. These include Castle Rock and Bushman Paintings, the Umfurudzi River Potholes, Beacon Hill, Secret Pool, Baobab Island, Limestone Caves and Ruanga Viewpoint.

Safe to walk anywhere outside of the protected and fenced buffalo breeding area, there are many marked and mapped trails and roads within the Park to walk.

Hippo Pools Wilderness Camp, on the banks of the Mazowe River is tranquil and charming

The extremely comfortable accommodation has recently been completely renovated and boasts new and modern facilities.

 

Mavuradonha Wilderness

The Mavuradonha Wilderness Area is situated in northern Zimbabwe and covers some 600 sq km of the eastern part of the Zambezi Escarpment.  In January 2017, it was declared a National Monument by the Government of Zimbabwe, because of its historical and cultural importance. The area is also one of Zimbabwe’s true wildernesses – seldom visited, even by the locals. Here, the mountain mass of the escarpment meets the mountain mass of Zimbabwe’s mineral-rich Great Dyke Range.  The result is a complex geological mix, rising over 1,000m and peaking at Mount Banirembizi in the east.

The Mavhuradonha Wilderness Area is a sanctuary covering an area of 575km². This is divided into two sections: the first section is an ecotourism area only, which contains a small rustic safari lodge, Kopje Tops, which caters to photography, walking safaris, etc. The second area allows for consumptive and non-consumptive activities.

The name “Mavuradonha” is Shona and roughly translates as ‘Land of Falling Water’ or simply ‘water falls’.  It’s not hard to understand why.  The terrain is extremely wild and rugged, with heavily-wooded granite outcrops contrasting with the bare, grass-covered slopes of the highly mineralised Great Dyke Range.

Numerous streams and rivers rise in the mountains, flowing north to the Zambezi, sometimes cutting steep waterfalls in the rock as they make their way off the escarpment.   The ground is steep and rocky interspersed with winding elephant trails.

In the east, the Musengezi River has cut a steep gorge through the mountains creating attractive scenery and magnificent hiking country.

There is a great deal of well-developed miombo woodland, with most of the representative species of Brachystegia and Julbernardia. There are also gully, ravine or ‘kloof’ woodlands, with higher soil moisture and nutrients, providing a greater range of microhabitats. Large forest trees such as Khaya anthotheca occur but are scattered and in small numbers.  There are also several endemic aloes and other plant species unique to the Great Dyke soils. There is a Raffia palm botanical reserve near the Kopje Tops camp.

It is a rugged place but very beautiful, with a few bush tracks to access some areas. There are several walking trails in the area leading to some very beautiful and interestingly named places, such as Bat Caves, named after the colony of Egyptian Fruit Bats roosting there, Otters Pool and Elephant Gorge. Scouts are on hand to lead us on foot to these places.

The Mavuradonha is an Important Bird Area (IBA), with some 290 species of birds including several large eagles.

BIRDING ATTRACTIONS

Umfurudzi Park

Verreaux’s Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Bat Hawk, African Cuckoo Hawk, Dickinson’s Kestrel, African Wood-Owl, Freckled Nightjar, Three-banded Courser, African Finfoot, White-backed Night Heron, Miombo Blue-eared Starling, Boulder Chat, Mocking Cliff-Chat, Striped Pipit, Wood Pipit, Bearded Scrub-Robin, Racket-tailed Roller, Arnot’s Chat, Narina Trogon, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Red-faced Crombec, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Purple-banded Sunbird, Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, African Yellow White-eye, Red-throated Twinspot and Black-eared Seedeater.

Mavuradonha Wilderness

African Crowned Eagle,Verreaux’s Eagle, Ayre’s Hawk-Eagle, African Cuckoo Hawk, African Broadbill, Mountain Wagtail, Boulder Chat, Cabanis’s Bunting, Whyte’s Barbet, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Miombo Rock-Thrush, Wood Pipit, Flappet Lark, Grey Penduline-Tit, Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, Lazy Cisticola, Stierling’s Wren-Warbler, Black Saw-wing

African Crowned Eagle
African Crowned Eagle

 

The 8-day tour departs from Johannesburg. We travel in an air-conditioned VW Caravelle, 4-wheel drive Microbus

Itineraries

Day 1

Date : October 3, 2021

Johannesburg-Harare-Thetford Game Reserve

Depart on morning flight from Jhb to Harare, arriving around 11 am. Travel to our overnight stop, Thetford Game Reserve. Afternoon game drive and sundowners in open safari vehicle.

Day 2

Date : October 4, 2021

Thetford -Umfurudzi

Early morning birding around Thetford. Depart after breakfast for Umfurudzi, via Christon Bank and Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens. Arrive mid-afternoon and overnight at Hippo Pools Wilderness Camp, Umfurudzi.

Day 3

Date : October 5, 2021

Umfurudzi

Early morning guided walk along Mazowe River. Rest of day spent relaxing/birding in camp. Overnight at Hippo Pools.

Day 4

Date : October 6, 2021

Umfurudzi

Early morning game drive in open safari vehicle. Visit points of interest in Park. Late afternoon bird walk. Overnight at Hippo Pools.

Day 5

Date : October 7, 2021

Umfurudzi-Mavuradonha Wilderness

Early morning birding around camp. Depart after breakfast for Mavuradonha Wilderness. Arrive mid-afternoon and overnight at Kopje Tops Lodge.

Day 6

Date : October 8, 2021

Mavuradonha Wilderness

Day spent birding, game viewing and sightseeing in Mavuradonha Overnight at Kopje Tops Lodge.

Day 7

Date : October 9, 2021

Mavuradonha Wilderness

Day spent birding, game viewing and sightseeing in Mavuradonha Overnight at Kopje Tops Lodge.

Day 8

Date : October 10, 2021

Mavuradonha-Harare-Johannesburg

Early morning birding around camp. Depart after breakfast for Harare for early afternoon flight to Johannesburg.

Includes

The price includes Johannesburg Harare return flight, ground transport, all meals, accommodation, guiding, entrance fees and specified activities.

Excludes

All you would need to pay for would be alcoholic drinks, gratuities and items of a personal nature.