Tag : Matabeleland

Cattle Loading Ramp…

Looking for Msasa trees, near Mbalabala, I came across this old loading ramp.
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.

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.
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.
From bare branches spring new leaves that vary from orange, russet, yellow and red. Within a few weeks they are all green.
This grove of trees is clustered around a typical granite “kopjie” with classic rocks, and that lovely grey grass found along each crack.
It’s pretty slippery too! I nearly slipped to the bottom, taking pics of this rocky outcrop:
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.
If I’d slogged back up here a few weeks later, this tree would have changed colour to brilliant red, before finally turning green.
In this pic, you can see most of the colours to be found on the Msasa.
The dark tree trunks and the characteristic shapes contrast with the delicate leaves.
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.
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/
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.
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/
As usual, the trees got to me!
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.
In the midmorning we took off for Mtshabezi Dam, stopping occasionally to take photos.
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.
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!
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.
I’m sorry if there are too many pics below – but I can’t resist sharing them with you!
Later on, two blokes strolled over to collect their fishing boat:
Gives you some idea of the size of the rocks towering over the dam.
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.
Of course…a tree overlooking the dam!
More trees, and disobliging aloes! (Above)
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.
The light was special by the time we got here…(A little weir close to the road.)
And the trees –  to die for!
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!
School kids returning home also seemed to be enjoying the new surface!
Whew – I wonder if the bike rider could see ANYTHING!
This last photo I took hanging out of the window – letting the car drive itself!
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!

Mtshabezi Dam…

Built in a long narrow valley, Mtshabezi Dam is long and deep. These two photos are taken in the bright overhead sunlight, in the mid day.
It was a bit later, when I took this one:
Fishermen, who brave the road with their boats, launch just in front of where I was standing.
I really like this rock (above)with the trees growing out of them. I tried to line it up with another interesting rock in the foreground, but it just didn’t gel. I’ll try again when I get the boat into the water.
The trees are beginning to shed their leaves and that orange, is actually leaves, not flowers.
I liked the stark white of this dead tree – taken in the late afternoon light. Im thinking someone good at manipulating RAW images might have fun with it.
These last images were taken with fading light.

Sand Olive…

I came across this tree near the Enzamalanga trig beacon in Esigodini. The area is very rocky and crisscrossed with paths and tiny roads used by small miners and people who are called Tshekedsha (the name comes from the sound made when the sieve is shaken during the gold panning process.)  Most Tshekedsha are illegally mining and they make quite a mess of the environment.
It looks a little like a combretum, but I’m told it isn’t.
It is often planted in areas that were deforested and so easily establishes itself here where the soil was bare and dug over.
The cream colours of this bush show up strongly all along the hillsides at this time of the year…


Is a little village about fifty kilometres from Bulawayo heading south towards Johannesburg. The town and buildings have changed since I grew up there, but the surrounding countryside is much the same.P1280921
And that’s about it in the main street! The Why Not Hotel’s paint job is a little garish next to the post office’s more traditional one!
And then we leave the town for the countryside…
I chose to avoid a $2.00 toll gate and took this road! (Heading South west.)
Looking south and late in the evening, is an unusual view of the Matopos (although one I’ve posted here before, but taken in the morning.)
OK, so this is a bit of a cheat! I didn’t HAVE to go on this road to avoid the toll! But I did in order to follow the sunset! You know, I think taking photos is sort of like surfing. Like a surfer, waiting for that perfect wave, I sit around in the freezing evenings, or walk up just one more hill, or drive my poor car down roads like this one above – looking for that perfect shot! Always just around the corner!
The sunset was worth driving home in the dark (I don’t have the best night sight!)
It’s cold now (temperatures are just over 0 degrees C)
This last pic is taken on the main Johannesburg road – and it was eina cold!

Mtshabezi Dam…

We visited Mtshabezi (pronounced mmm cha bezi) Dam a while ago, and I noticed aloes on the road through the gorge. Since there are lovely aloes out all over Matabeleland, I thought it would be an idea to take pics there. None were out!!! But I couldn’t have picked a better day for a visit.
This first photo was taken on the (very bumpy) road over the gorge.
We  had the place to ourselves, other than a few civilised fishermen – instead of noisy motorboats! The weather was kind – bright sunlight at midday, and then the wind tailed off until the water was like glass in the evening.
A recent addition to Bulawayo’s water supply, Mtshabezi is a picturesque dam built in the 1990’s. It’s on the southern end of the Matopos about 40km from the Gwanda/Bulawayo rd.
I love the rocks sitting in the water.
Mtshabezi is almost full still, which is pretty good considering the rainy season was middling.
I’m thinking of carrying the canoe on top of the car so I can paddle further upstream – Ill get some lovely pics, I’m sure. Im reliably informed that there are no crocs or hippos in this dam. Hippo make quick work of canoes!

Rhodes' Grave…

Cecil John Rhodes is buried on top of “Malindidzimu,” in the Matopos. He called the place “Worlds View.” Although to be honest, I know of way better places to view the Matopos.
Roughly translated Malindidzimu means, “Hill of Spirits,” or perhaps more specifically, “Place of Benevolent Spirits.”
The view is pretty good from here.
These two pics, above and below, are taken from a bench soon after the carpark (before the climb to the grave site.)
I couldn’t resist this red tree – I had to get it into the photo somehow!
And of course, when I was up there, had to go to visit old friends! (Above) I just LOVE this tree, although the Russian guy we gave a lift to, was not impressed with what I called a “tree!” I think he probably had more descriptive names in Russian, like “scrub” or “bush!”
If you look carefully, there is a white cross on the top of that hill. It can also be seen at Maleme Dam (a fair distance from World’s View.)

Faery Tree…

I bet the tree faeries live in trees like this…
All those cute little caves!
Bring out my inner monkey!

Matopos Rocks…

Two ducks? Or a lady-rock lying on her back!
You tell me!
Weird how many shapes one can see in the rocks in Matopos.P1280651
In some light, this rock seems to me to be a grumpy old man’s face!