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A Vacation Of Walking Safaris And Rhinos

On holiday at Matusadonha National Park and Musango Lodge

Gill Staden, eTN  May 20, 2010

We were staying at Bumi Hills, close to the Matusadonha National Park; Matusadonha is famous for two things – rhinos and walking safaris. Some black rhinos remain but most have long gone to the Asian medicine man. Walking safaris are still conducted but much fewer than in previous years. Steve Edwards used to be the warden at Matusadonha but retired some years ago. Now he and his wife, Wendy, run a small lodge, Musango, on a spit of land near Matusadonha. Steve takes his guests out on the lake to fish, for game drives in the area, and for walking safaris in the park.

Matusadonha was the place where many animals were released after target="_blank">Operation Noah. Operation Noah was the mass rescue of wildlife as the water in Lake Kariba rose after the completion of the dam wall in 1958. Thousands of animals were left stranded on islands or hanging onto trees. Rangers from both sides of the lake – Zambia and Zimbabwe – with very little funding, went out onto the lake to rescue what they could. The operation went on for a few years as the water came higher and higher. Some animals remained on islands, which are big enough to support them, but many were brought to the mainland where their heirs still roam today.

Matusadonha is at the far end of the Great Rift Valley and is part of what we call the Zambezi Escarpment. It is a park for the adventurous. Not only is it difficult to get to, but the terrain is very hilly, and the roads are challenging to drive. If you want to see the park as it should be seen, then Steve would be the person to take you there. I must ask him to take me there one day... as long as I don’t have to do the walking bit.

While we were staying at Bumi Hills Lodge, we asked to go over to see Musango. After the rain had stopped, we took a boat over the choppy water, to take a look and meet Steve and Wendy. We met Steve and his guests on the Lake; they were fishing. Wendy was home, though, and took us for a tour of the lodge.

Musango Lodge has 8 ensuite A-frames with tents underneath. All are tucked under the trees and bushes along the lake shore. The waves lap up against the shoreline and the breezes keep the tents cool. The main wood-and-thatch building is a two-story; the lower level being the dining and lounge area, the upper floor being a viewing deck with comfy chairs. The property is fenced with an electric fence... this keeps out the hippos.

Musango is a totally different experience from Bumi Hills Lodge. Bumi is luxury relaxation, while guests can take a quick trip on the lake or around the lodge for entertainment. Musango is where guests are expected to get out there and do stuff... and then, later in the evening, have their heads filled with stories of the bush. Both lodges, of course, complement each other, because we are all different, and we want different experiences while we are on holiday.

On holiday at Matusadonha National Park and Musango Lodge
Photo by Gill Staden

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