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Equipped For Game Viewing

The brilliance of cobweb catchers at Bumi Hills in Zimbabwe

Gill Staden, eTN  May 10, 2010

We were at target="_blank">Bumi Hills on Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe. So, what did we do? The first morning we got up early and were on the game-viewing vehicle by 6:00 am for a potter around. The vegetation is thick, so away from the lake it was difficult to get more than a few glimpses of fur as the animals munched in between the bushes. Getting on to the lake shore, though, we could see for some distance. The birds were good – Egyptian geese, plovers, fish eagles, bateleurs, hoopoes, rollers, and hornbills. And everywhere we looked in the water there was a crocodile patroling. They were big ones, too.

Around the airstrip there were eles, waterbuck, impala, and warthog. The impala were being very entertaining as they locked horns and pretended to fight. They were snorting and barking, too. Next month will be the serious time when the males have to fight for the right to own a harem, so these battles and noises are the preparation for that event.

The one interesting addition to the safari vehicle is a cobweb catcher. It is merely a long-forked stick which protrudes up from the bumper. We didn’t see the use of it until we passed through thick mopane bush. This bush was strewn with cobwebs; the center of each cobweb was the home of a golden orb spider – a nasty looking black and yellow monster. The reason for the cobweb catcher then became clear. It worked well, too, much to the appreciation of us all in the open vehicle.

On returning to the lodge we ate breakfast. The meals at Bumi are great, very special, and we all tucked into the food with glee. And then, during breakfast something very strange happened. Black clouds flew in from the north and dropped their contents over us and the lake in front. We had made a plan to go out for a boat ride, but that plan was discarded, and we sat and watched the rain instead.

I went back to my room with a book from their library and sat on the balcony very content with the world as the rain poured down. The lightning was zapping through the clouds and, when the thunder rumbled, the balcony vibrated along with it. The lake was almost invisible, so thick was the rain. And it went on like that for hours. It was still raining when I went back for lunch. So we ate some more great food while watching the rain. It was only after putting on another few kilos in weight from lunch that the rain started to let up.

We did manage to get our boat ride later in the afternoon. We took a safari vehicle down to the jetty with Hemmel, one of the managers, with fishing rods and worms. Hemmel had to get out the mop and empty the boat of a few gallons of water and then we climbed in for our ride. The lake was still a bit bumpy but nothing like it can be – waves of a meter or more are common on Lake Kariba. We bounced over to Musango Lodge to take a look and then back to the beach in front of Bumi for a sundowner. I won’t mention the fishing... we forgot the worms in the vehicle. Not a train-smash for us because neither Sarah nor me like fishing... we just thought we ought to try.

Sundowners on the beach below the lodge was a relaxing affair. The sun set and filled the sky and the clouds with a blaze of color. The log fire crackled in front of us and conversation and beer flowed. A perfect end to a day dominated by the whims of the weather. Africa is like that – full of the unexpected – that’s why we love it so much.

The brilliance of cobweb catchers at Bumi Hills in Zimbabwe
Photo by Gill Staden

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