A 500km Relay to FUNDRAISE for the SPCAs of ZIMBABWE!
COME NEXT YEAR IN SUPPORT OF US! Did you ever want to visit Africa? Did you want to do a safari with a difference? Read on....
We all have some form of a bucket list. Disneyland, a cruise, The Pyramids......but hopefully, if you have a small sense of adventure, you will include parts of OUR beautiful land in yours. The back-roads, the off-the-grid Zimbabwe has some of the loveliest scenery imaginable. You may need a robust vehicle, and a pack of cheerful mates, Google maps, and a stocked coldbox, and if this is sounding like a great idea, look no further than combining an epic expedition with a good cause and take part in THE BLUE CROSS for the SPCAs of Zimbabwe. Its only 500kms long, it’s only an elevation of 80m short of 2 and a half kilometres, it’s only through remote regions, and completely self-supported. And though it can be a physically challenging event, it is really within the reach of the average person with good preparation, a supportive team, and some determination. I am proof positive of that.
Our team of 6 joined forces for MUTARE SPCA. The treadmill was pounded daily, (in my case 40 minutes at 6kph) and the 4 kilometre path circumnavigating the Golf Course could take a fair while to rehabilitate. Suddenly, the departure date was on us. Two teams, 3 per car, left Mutare in the pink African dawn, and about 5 hours drive later, we reached the start at lowest point in the country at the Save river. There, in the hot sun, the Mutare SPCA volunteers had created a sandy guard of honour in colourful flags, happily flapping farewell. We were really doing it! WE would walk in a relay team over 500kms to raise awareness and money for Mutare SPCA.
We set off immediately. The bush is thick, and in that early stage, it’s possible to encounter some big game – Elephant and Cape Buffalo and more. The vehicles travelled close to the walkers in that leg for safety. Excited to be on the way, a big rustle from the bush to my left had me executing a stylish Fosbury Flop, only to discover the offender was a lost chicken! And later, it was a bit embarrassing to discover that the wildest wildlife on the entire SPCA Blue Cross was a feisty Turkey! Our first campsite was on an unused track far from the madding crowd, and when camp was set up, and the bucket bathing ritual begun, a fire-red full moon lifted through the drying leaves and branches, and gave the night that comfortable feeling that only remoteness and adventure brings. We realized that an indescribable experience lay ahead of us.
In all, we had 5 wonderful nights camping out under the stars at the end of each day’s trail, happily reliving the day’s best moments, prepping dinners and lunches for the next day. Although our campsites were informal, we never felt unwelcome by local residents. Our sites were wonderfully remote, isolated and perfectly quiet, as we fell asleep to new Nightjars and Owls, and awoke to new Robins and Thrushes. Every night we had attained higher altitude, more miles closer to Mount Nyangani, less hours of this phenomenally beautiful walk to do. We had one night at the polo crosse club Fiddlers On the Green, with catering by the welcoming David, and the ladies of Chipinge. In Chimanimani, we were had a cosy night at Kweza Lodge, which we can highly recommend. Across the road is the delightful Frog and Fern for all the extra walkers next year!
Sadly, the Chimanimani Mountain range and park are under stiff pressure for gold mining. Is the desire for a few people to own a couple of glistening baubles really worth the total destruction of this exquisite natural resource? Are we really to forfeit the health of the people living downstream to gold processing poisons, and their quality of water to the siltation of the destructive methods. It’s tragic and Chimanimani stands to lose its whole tourism industry, and related income.
We left with lots to think about, but as we rose higher and higher, over the height of Tank Neck Pass (which had initially given me thoughts of self sabotage) and on through Cashel Valley, the dramatic and stunning views filled us with pride that we live in what must be generally the loveliest region of Zimbabwe. The Blue Cross takes you to amazing and mostly unvisited places.
The 500km walking route keeps you off the paved roads almost entirely, and the route mapped for us this year was mindful of the landscape. How privileged were we? The miles flew because of the scenery, the friendliness of the people, and the fun of walking in a team.
The mature Miombo, gallery forests, deep gorges, unreachable waterfalls and layered mountain ranges, there was no single outstanding day, as every day was a surprise and as beautiful as the last. Moving North, we exchanged mountains for rock Whale Back outcrops or Dwalas, trademark Zimbabwe landscape.
The Cyclists, The horseriders, The walkers, everyone who does the Blue Cross will defend their method as the best way to do it, but in fact EVERY way is the best way. It is a spiritual thing to do. This year, unbelievably, about $30,000 was raised for the widespread seven SPCAs of Zimbabwe. They certainly need it, every one of them. And in the same way, every person who elects to take part may be raising money for the SPCA, but they are doing a phenomenal thing for themselves.
WILL YOU DO IT FOR US NEXT YEAR?