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World's View, and Nyanga…

World’s View, in Inyanga offers superb views. Last time we visited the Eastern Highlands, I got some lovely shots – so I penciled in a visit and was disappointed! The view was hazy, the weather cold and the sunset boring! HOWEVER, the trip up there from Juliasdale, was spectacular.
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I started off at Froggy Farm in Juliasdale…
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And drove past the mountains that tower over Nyanga town.
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I’m guessing that before the town was built, Msasa trees covered all the hillsides here.
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I stopped the car near the cutout at the top of the hill in the above photo, and sat on a hill, just drinking in the spectacular view:
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The sun was very strong, because I was giving myself enough time to get to World’s View by sunset. In these photos, I shielded the camera by hiding behind a branch on my left.
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The following are the only decent pics I got from World’s View – I guess you win some, you lose some when it comes to photography.
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The last time I went to World’s view, I took this photo:
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And now, I go back, two years later and the tree has grown???? How dare it?
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Below are the photos I took two years ago, when I had a decent sunset to work with.

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Hidden Rocks, Juliasdale…

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These photos are taken at Hidden Rocks, Juliasdale in the late evening. I liked them so much, I made a calendar that I’m selling via Lulu.com to raise money for pensioners in Zimbabwe.
Please have a look by clicking here
 

The Gift of Tears…

My quest, on the second day I stayed in Juliasdale, was this kopie:
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It’s at the Hidden Rocks camping site and was called “The Gift of Tears” or “Crying Rocks” by locals.
P1310706I took these pics (above) in the midmorning, but arranged to return in the evening for sunset shots.
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From this angle, it appears daunting,  but actually it’s an easy climb.
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About half way up, are some of the best preserved stone architecture I’ve ever seen. In this short clip, I’m walking through a tunnel, the roof and walls made entirely of stone.
Please click here to watch the video.
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This ‘hole’ is on the west side of the hill – something I’ve never seen in the ancient stone structures – usually they face east.
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This photo (above) is taken from the ancient ‘viewing table.’
P1310731Weird rock, eroded until its about to fall off! I wonder how many more centuries it will take?
 
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I took these pics, tucked against a rock, shading my lens from the very bright sun…
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And finally, the long awaited sunset!

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Almost a luna landscape.

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Its weird, the aloes are very dark, up on this kopjie.
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And finally, the “Crying Rock” or “Gift of Tears,” so named because this huge rock seems as if it has a flood of tears pouring down over it.
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I didn’t stay at Hidden Rocks on this visit, but I certainly intend to when next I go to Juliasdale, not only to enjoy the magnificent scenery, but also because of the incredible hospitality afforded me, by the owner. She took off the whole day, from what must be a busy schedule, to take me up this kopjie AND allowed me to return to take more pics (I’ll post them soon.)
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This is the camping area – with its awesome view. I could see myself sitting here to wait for the sunset!
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There is a cunningly hidden room in this pic above!

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This slideshow above is the view from the chalet at Hidden Rocks!
Hidden Rocks is advertised on Facebook – have a look here
You can book etc here
 

Juliasdale…

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Juliasdale is a granite area, with the characteristic boulders (such as the above pic) and massive ones:
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This huge rock is called Dumbu, and can be seen for miles around.
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I love the way the roads wind around the rocks, and diminutive msasa trees.
 
 

Juliasdale Msasa…

A couple of years ago, we were working in the Eastern Highlands in the middle of winter, often with cloudy skies and slight ‘guti.’ I got some lovely photos (I’ve posted them here,) especially of the aloes and the cold winter colours.
Our host, who has the good fortune to live with the view in my first photo from his porch, told me to come back when the Msasa were out for even better photos. I heeded his advice and let me tell you, Juliasdale in Msasa season, is tree heaven! I took rather a lot of photos, and in the next few posts, I will share the best with you.
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I took my dog, Lizzy with me, and she is now quite an intrepid mountain climber!
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Juliasdale is a granite area, similar to the Matopos, but with exotic varieties of trees growing on many of the hillsides. Yes, they do mess up my Msasa photos, but they also provide much needed pine for our building industry. You can see them in the photo below, providing some dark green colour as a backdrop.
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I drove down this logging track, hoping for some clearer views…
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And I found them! The two photos following were taken when I found a clearing overlooking this valley:
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I LOVE the lone tree against the granite mound in this photo:
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Cattle Loading Ramp…

Looking for Msasa trees, near Mbalabala, I came across this old loading ramp.
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This place used to be part of a larger cattle ranch, (recently cut into much smaller acreages.)
Cattle destined for sale, would have been collected here, waiting for transport lorries to arrive.

Playing with light…

Here in Africa, the sun is HUGE!!!
Driving home from Esigodini, late one evening, I happened across this view:
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The sun seemed to be hanging between the cooling towers of the Bulawayo Power Station.
SO – I went looking for other late evening shots!
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Taken on a different day, from a slightly different angle.
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This was taken about a kilometre further along 12th Avenue from the one above.
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This is a view from what used to be Selborne Avenue in Bulawayo (Now Leopold Takawira) near the Centenary Park.
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Leopold Takawira Avenue is lined with tall palms (the Natural History Museum is on the right of this photo.)
 
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I live in one of those old colonial houses, in Suburbs (one of the first suburbs in Bulawayo) with wooden floors, wooden doors and sash windows. I stood in my hallway, looking out of the front door for this shot, above.
My last photo was taken outside Girls College, very late in the evening:
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Mbalabala Msasa…

I’m back! And I apologise for the absence – I decided to start a website, with the idea of selling some of my better photos. I was told not to post any more on this blog, as it would become redundant. As you will note, I even changed my logo on the bottom of my photos!
Several months down the line, and no website in sight, I’m back here, with some photos I took back then.
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Mbalabala is a tiny town on the Johannesburg Road, about 70km from Bulawayo. The same massive granite of the Matopos can be found in this area, and these beautiful trees, that produce new leaf in the spring.
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From bare branches spring new leaves that vary from orange, russet, yellow and red. Within a few weeks they are all green.
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This grove of trees is clustered around a typical granite “kopjie” with classic rocks, and that lovely grey grass found along each crack.
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It’s pretty slippery too! I nearly slipped to the bottom, taking pics of this rocky outcrop:
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It’s hot and dry in Matabeleland now – and the only time I could get away, was at lunch time. Not the best time to take photos!
I climbed all the way to the top, in the blazing heat and was rewarded with this tree! In the distance there you can see the tiny town of Mbalabala.
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If I’d slogged back up here a few weeks later, this tree would have changed colour to brilliant red, before finally turning green.
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In this pic, you can see most of the colours to be found on the Msasa.
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The dark tree trunks and the characteristic shapes contrast with the delicate leaves.
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I leave you with a photo of the hillside opposite the one I climbed.
 

A day trip to the Matopos…

I love it when people visit here – it gives me an excuse to go to the Matopos! Dave, whom I met on Facebook wanted to visit Mtshabezi Dam, cos I’d posted some pics a while ago.
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We decided to first visit the bottom of Lumeni Falls, since we had done the top (in the car!) last year. Here is a link to the photos I took then: https://frankiekayfotos.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/lumeni-falls/
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The Lumeni river falls off the southern end of the Matopos, tumbling down over rocks and ending up on the flat(ish) land in the Nswazi Communal Area. It eventually joins with the other big rivers in this area that finally flow into the green and greasy Limpopo.
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There are camping facilities, at the bottom, although pretty rudimentary! If you are looking to reset your biological clock – this is the place! From here, its about 500m until the climb to the top of the falls. I took some pics a while ago and you can see them here: https://frankiekayfotos.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/bulawayos-best-kept-secret-lumeni-falls/
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As usual, the trees got to me!
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This last one, taken at the bottom of the falls, towers over the campsite. The light was still pretty good, I liked the way it shone through the leaves of this tree.
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In the midmorning we took off for Mtshabezi Dam, stopping occasionally to take photos.
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Passing a scotch-cart, Dave noticed the boy driving it, pointed at the front of the car. A flat tyre!! I have never had a flat on this set of tyres, and felt a bit embarrassed that a visitor had to get down and dirty on what should be an enjoyable trip! Thank goodness that young chap pointed at my front wheel or I would have ruined a tyre. The roads in this part of the Matopos are not good and I was seriously debating cutting our day short and heading back to Bulawayo.
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I knew the drive over the spillway at Mtshabezi was very rocky and the AA doesn’t really get out there! You can see the road on the right of the photo approaching the dam!  I resolved to borrow a pump from a passing scotch-cart driver and do an emergency repair on the tyre (I carry repair plugs!) Well, we weren’t able to borrow one, instead, we bought one! For $4.00!! Whodathunk?P1290775
At a rural store in the wilds of Mtshabezi!
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Confident we could repair the puncture, if need be, we pushed on to the Mtshabezi Dam,. And once again, it didn’t disappoint! What a photogenic dam.
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I’m sorry if there are too many pics below – but I can’t resist sharing them with you!
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Later on, two blokes strolled over to collect their fishing boat:
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Gives you some idea of the size of the rocks towering over the dam.
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I went for a little climb to get some better shots of the dam from higher up. I wasn’t able to walk around the dam much, the rocks come too close to the edge. I’ll wait until I can get onto the water with our canoe.
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Of course…a tree overlooking the dam!
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More trees, and disobliging aloes! (Above)
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And then, at about 3.00pm we headed out, to drive back along the Old Gwanda Road to Bulawayo. A drive of more than 70km on what I expected to be a terrible road.
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The light was special by the time we got here…(A little weir close to the road.)
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And the trees –  to die for!
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There were a few aloes! But most of the red in this pic above, is from leaves – changing colours with the season.
We couldn’t spend as much time as we liked photographing this spot – I was worried about the long (and very bumpy drive to come.) And was doomed to disappointment – the road was being graded! Whoa – possibly the first time this century!
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School kids returning home also seemed to be enjoying the new surface!
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Whew – I wonder if the bike rider could see ANYTHING!
 
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This last photo I took hanging out of the window – letting the car drive itself!
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I hope I have not posted too many photos in one post. Please let me know what you think. We also visited Gulabuhwe Cave on this trip, but I do think I should make a separate post for that visit!
 
 

Leia…

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I couldn’t resist taking pics of this beautiful face. She wasn’t that happy with me at first; barked at the “big eye.”
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