May - August 2010 Magazine |
Mabukuwene Nature Reserve
Fridays 19:00 - 21:00 hrs
Norman's Email address
With thanks to:- Editors - Rob McKenzie & Norman Scott
UNDER THE PSEUDOLACHNOSTYLIS MAPROUNEIFOLIA
As we near the end of the year, membership of the Troop is down to four active Scouts. Not good
news, but that is the situation. Transport is a major problem when moving around and parents are
not always available to assist, especially when an activity is over an extended period or to a far
off destination. This is why I purposely keep membership at eight to ten Scouts so that when we
do undertake our monthly hikes and other expeditions, we can all go as one party in one vehicle,
however, it does have its disadvantages when Scouts who leave are not replaced timely by new
Kevin FitzPatrick in his home built Soap
Box takes on Christopher Mackenzie down
the hill at HQ, Gordon Park
Being an 'open' Scout Group means that we are not
sponsored and therefore, we have to raise our own
funds in order to undertake our scouting activities.
Fortunately, over the years we have accumulated a
good supply of basic equipment to practice our
knotting, pioneering, first aid, mapping and compass
work, as well as tents, tarpaulins and kitchen
equipment for us to camp in modest comfort. Then
there are the running expenses of the Troop starting
with our annual levy to Province. The badges gained
as Scouts progress along the scouting trail need to
be purchased and all the activities members
participate in have a cost factor. Meeting the cost of
scouting, especially as we are an active out-door
orientated Troop, is not easy and I Thank the
parents for contributing to these costs. To our benefactors who follow our activities with interest
and who have an understanding and appreciate the value of scouting to our young men, a most
sincere Thank You. Your contributions in cash and kind are greatly appreciated.
Two major competitions have been held since the last issue of Pioneer Trail. The first was the
Bulawayo (East District) Pioneering Competition, namely 'The Colin Turner Memorial Pioneering
Trophy' My congratulations are extended to Patrol Leader Christopher Mackenzie, Declan
FitzPatrick, Michael Dodds, Kevin FitzPatrick and Dylan Irwin - of the 8th Bulawayo, who had
come out alone to Gordon Park for the weekend and was invited to join in with our Patrol - on
their achievement in taking first place. This is the third time that our Troop has won the
competition since it was first competed for in 1982 which on that occasion, was won by the 8th
Bulawayo (Hillside) Scout Troop.
The premier Provincial competition, the 'William Arnold Carnegie Assegai Competition' was held
at Gordon Park from 31 August to 1 September. This year only five Troops entered, but they were
the top five Troops of the Province, so competition was at a high level. The Troop entered and
won by a fair margin. It is of interest to note that the Assegai Competition was first held in 1951
and was known as the 'Small Assegai' competition, as the trophy is a genuine Matabele
Warrior's stabbing assegai. It was presented to the Province of Matabeleland for competition
purposes by Mr. William Arnold Carnegie, after whom the competition is named and has been
competed for without a break ever since. The first winners of this competition were the 12th
Bulawayo Scout Troop. This year marks the Fiftieth year that this competition has been held and
this is the ninth time that our Troop has won the Competition. I am extremely proud that our Patrol
comprising of, Patrol Leader Christopher Mackenzie, Declan FitzPatrick, Michael Dodds and
Kevin FitzPatrick, brought the Assegai back to the Troop in our One Hundredth Anniversary year.
Congratulations and well done.
Ending off the August school holidays, the Troop undertook another One Hundred Kilometre Hike
as part of our anniversary celebrations. A report of the hike appears in this edition of Pioneer
Looking ahead to our final major activity in commemorating our One Hundredth Anniversary, the
Troop is planning on undertaking a 'Roof of Africa Expedition' during the Christmas school
holidays. This overland expedition of some eight thousand kilometres will take us far from home
through Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi. It should provide our Scouts with a fantastic experience of
East Africa; its fascinating history, its peoples, wildlife, scenery, a swim in Lake Malawi, the Indian
Ocean and most important, to stand atop Mount Kilimanjaro the highest place on our continent of
It is with great sadness that we record the passing on of Mrs Ruth Hadfield, on 17 August 2010.
Mrs. Hadfield had been involved in Scouting in Bulawayo for well over forty five years. Her late
husband Phillip was the Scout Leader of the 11th Bulawayo (Riverside) Scout Troop, where her
four sons were all scouts. During this time, Mrs. Hadfield served on the Group Parent's
Committee raising funds to build the Riverside Scout Hall. At Provincial level, Mrs Hadfield
contributed freely of her time to Scouting for many years in efficiently organizing the manning of
the gates and the selling of programmes for the annual, ten day duration International Trade Fair
and Agricultural Show. This was and still is the main form of fund raising for Province, which
helps in subsidising Scouting activities in Matabeleland. Added to this service, Mrs. Hadfield ran
the Scout Shop, ordering supplies and then opening the shop at lunchtime three days a week for
five years. For her services, in 1970 Mrs. Hadfield received Scouting's "Thank You Badge" and
then 'The Silver Eagle Award' in 1996 for her contribution to Scouting as a non-uniformed
supporter. Mrs. Hadfield was also very active in her church. Honourable volunteers like Mrs
Hadfield are few and far between, and this world has been made a richer place with all her
enthusiasm and dedication. On behalf of all the Scouts, Leaders and lay personnel in the
Province of Matabeleland, our sincere condolence's to the Hadfield family in their sad loss.
And now it is back to my hammock beneath my favourite Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia with
my floppy hat pulled over my eyes as I dream of the Troop's ultimate High Adventure Activity, the
'Roof of Africa Expedition' in December, 2010.
May Hike 2010
1st - 2nd May 2010
We started our hike at the gates to Gordon Park. The route we had chosen was as follows:
Gordon Park 592362
Moth Shrine 584402 (not along the road)
Path intersection 605404
River point 615373
Top of Shumba 602375
Gordon Park 592362
Distance approximately 11 kilometres.
The map we were using was, World's View - 2028 B3 (click to see a map).
From our start at the gates of Gordon Park we walked along the main road for about fifty metres
and then followed the track that followed next to the Mtshelele River in a northerly direction. We
had walked about two kilometres when Norman who had stayed at the Park to lock up, caught up
with us. At 09.45 am we stopped and looked on the map to find out where were. We were at grid
reference 588396. There was a small dam on our eastern side.
From here we headed for the MOTH Shrine at grid
reference 584402, which was about 700 metres away.
When we reached the MOTH Shrine we found people
clearing up the grass and other plants that had grown
during the rains. There was a plaque made of bronze
fixed to the rocks which said:
Declan, Michael and Brendan
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them.
Some of the people, who were cleaning up, stopped
and talked to Norman. One of them was pretending to
talk to us about the MOTH Shrine so he could get out
of working. Then a lady shouted at him for not doing any work. Having had our rest and look at
the Shrine, we continued on our hike along the main road for about 200 metres to grid reference
586404 to where we were to turn towards the east following a foot path into the Gulati Communal
Land. We got to the path at 10.25 am.
At the beginning of the path, we stopped and waited for Brendan, who was at the back, when he
was meant to be in the front with me, as we were leading the hike. We then set off along the path
reaching the National Park's game fence about 500 metres from the main road. Most of the fence
had fallen down as the poles had rotted. Soon we were at the path intersection, grid reference
605404. Here we found water running over the rocks where our path crossed a small steam.
Chris took a picture of us at this place.
After another 600 metres we came to a second path intersection, grid reference 606400 where
we took the right hand path heading off into a wide grassy vlei. Along here we saw a Snake
Eagle, so Chris says. We entered the vlei at grid reference 601496 and continued along our path.
Whilst hiking along we spotted a small cave to the west, so we went to have a look at it. Here we
rested, during which we found some Bushman paintings painted on the walls.
Continuing down the vlei in a southerly direction, we came across a small herd of cows. Chris
tried to play herdsman, but only managed to tire himself out chasing them around. We had a
good laugh at him running madly around.
Dylan, Brendan, Christopher, Declan and
Michael inside the Butter-fly cave
At 12.00 noon, we were at a kopje where the Butter-fly
cave was in. It took us quite a long time to find the
cave and we nearly gave up when Chris found it for
us. It was quite a big cave and I was hoping to see
many original paintings, but no, the local people had
put crude drawings in charcoal on the walls covering
the original paintings. Having had our rest, we
continued on our way.
We rounded the southern end of the kopje that
contained the cave following a bush path and headed
for Shumba. It was now 12.20 pm. Following a stream
that led us to Shumba we were soon out of the thick
bush. On reaching Shumba, we climbed up to the top
from the southern side. It was now 12.40 pm. Here we
had our final rest before heading down to the main
road that we could see far below us. On the way down, Brendan spotted a Rhino and her calf in
the Mtshelele vlei. It only took us ten minutes to get down to the road, which we followed to
Gordon Park. Along the road, Chris, Michael and Declan walked fast, so leaving Norman,
Brendan and I far behind. The three up front walked past the entrance gates to Gordon Park and
entered the Park via the waterfall behind the Headquarter kitchen. The three of us at the back,
took the entrance road into the Park and then took a short cut across the dam wall just below
Whilst we were having lunch Chris told us that an elephant had walked through the Park during
the week. After lunch we enjoyed ourselves climbing the rocks next to the kitchen.
8th Bulawayo (Hillside) Scout Troop
Ed. Dylan Irwin and Brendan Mackenzie, Scouts of the 8th Hillside, joined our monthly Troop hike
to undertake the hike test for their Adventurer Badge.
MOTH: Memorable Order of Tin Hats
Colin Turner Pioneering Competition
28th to 30th May 2010
We left from Christ the King at 4,30 pm on Friday afternoon to get out to Gordon Park early in
order to choose a camp site before other Troops arrived. In our Patrol were Mike, Declan, Chris
and me. Dylan from the 8th Hillside joined us as the 8th had not entered a Patrol. When we got to
the Park, we got the nqola and piled our kit on it and pushed it up to the Bowl Parade Ground
where the competition was to be held. We found a campsite and then off loaded the nqola and
took it back for some gum poles.
We got our fire going and then decided what we were going to do, so we made some chairs out
of gum poles, then a wash-up area, a table and put up our tent. We made our beds and then had
dinner. We had rolls with ham, cheese and tomatoes and then went to sleep.
The next morning we ate oats for breakfast and then put up our gate, which looked good. After
the competition had been opened, we went to our first base, which was knotting. We did quite
well. Then we went and cleaned up our tent for inspection. They came to inspect our campsite,
but there might have been some bad things.
We went for our second base which was to make a bridge. It was a bit hard, but we managed and
then we had lunch which was the same as the night before. We then had some time to relax and
enjoy ourselves, so we lay down for an hour. After our rest, we went to our next base where we
had to make something suitable for Scouts to play on. We decided to make a foofy-slide. We got
all the materials and started to build our foofy-slide on the Training Ground at Headquarters.
When we had finished and were testing it the judges came and told us that we had run out of
time, but they still looked at it. While everyone packed up, Chris and I did the next base which
After the base, we went to our campsite to prepare dinner. After this we set up our beds and then
just sat and talked until dinner was ready. Chris and Declan were asked by the judges to help
collect wood for the campfire. Dylan went to help as he was hardly doing anything around camp.
That left me and Mike to finish cooking dinner until Chris came back. When Dylan returned we
had our dinner which was very nice.
Time to relax around the camp-fire
Chris was called again, this time to help build the campfire.
When the fire was built, everyone went to the campfire, but
had to wait as the judges were late. When the judges
arrived the campfire was lit and our Troop was called upon
to do the first act. We did the horse's wee, wee play. In
this play we have two scouts covered by a blanket who are
a horse. The horse walks round the campfire stepping
over guys who lay down. On the second time around when
the horse steps over the guys water is poured over them.
The horse runs away very fast. The rest of the plays were
boring. So after the campfire we went to bed. Mike, Chris
and Declan slept outside and I and Dylan slept inside
Halfway through the night, it poured down with rain, so the other three came inside the tent. It
rained on and off throughout the night. It was not a nice night. Then in the morning it was horrible
because nothing was dry and the lashings on our projects were unbelievably tight. After breakfast
we went for the opening parade in civvies as our uniforms had been outside during the night and
were therefore soaking wet. We then did our first base which was to reeve a block and tackle. It
was an easy test as we had practiced it at one of our Troop meetings not long ago.
The next base was followed by some free time in which we had to make a knotting board for extra
points. When it was marked we got good marks as we had made every knot that they had asked
us to do. We then had lunch with what we had left over and then we went to Headquarters to say
Hi to Norman where he had remained, as he was not allowed into the competition area. We
attended the closing parade in civvies as our uniforms had not dried out. The results of the
competition were given and we found that we had won the Colin Turner Competition and had
come second in the overall Provincial Pioneering Competition. We all enjoyed the competition, it
was great fun. Thanks to Bekezela who had organised and run the competition.
Poacher's Cave and Iron-age Furnaces
3rd July 2010
Whilst climbing Shumba early on a Sunday morning in June, we noticed a plume of smoke curling
up from the dense forested slope of the kopjes on the other side of the Mtshelele valley. We
noted the smoke in relation to a huge 'egg shaped' boulder near the top of the range and decided
to investigate some other time, for we needed to get back to the Park early to prepare the Chapel
for the monthly service.
Unfortunately, school commitments precluded all but one Scout to take part in the July monthly
hike, so Chris and I decided that instead of undertaking a hike, we would instead try to find where
the smoke we had seen rising up from the range a few weeks earlier had emanated from and
why. On Saturday morning after a hasty breakfast, we headed off from the Park taking the short
cut to the main road by going across the Dam wall. It was a fortunate choice as we were treated
to a surprise, for on walking along the eastern bank of the dam we saw a Bushbuck doe gazing at
us from not more than fifteen metres. We watched the Bushbuck for a few minutes before it
bounded off higher up the bank and was lost in the thick forest at the top.
On crossing the main road, we found a path used by the animals and judging by the width of it
none other than by the white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) that frequent our area. Our path took
us away from the Mtshelele River up onto higher ground through the forested region at the base
of the range of kopjes on the western side of the river. It was rather exhausting cross-graining the
small tributaries, dry at this time of the year, that in the rains would channel the water down from
the kopjes to the main river. Finally we arrived below the'egg shaped' boulder which was our
landmark. Now we could start our search for the remains of the fire, the smoke of which had
caught our attention a few weeks previously.
Crawling higher and higher through the tangled mass of creeper like branches of Strychnos
matopoencis and other vegetation, we finally reached the base of our 'egg shaped' boulder. On
looking around we found the stones encircling the fire place we were searching for. It was at the
entrance to a shallow cleft between some boulders. Not exactly a cave but a good sized
overhang providing for some shelter. A little higher and to one side, Chris found some slag from
an iron furnace, but no trace of the furnace. Then we climbed up onto a huge boulder that jutted
out from the others. From the top we had a good view of the valley beneath us and the range of
kopjes on the other side.
Having found our 'poacher's cave' and as an added extra, chunks of slag from an iron furnace,
we returned to the Park bundu-bashing our way through some magnificent woodland of mixed
hard woods of Burkea africana, Faurea saligna and Olea europea. These trees were used
extensively in the making of good quality charcoal that fired the furnaces.
Chris at the Iron-age furnace
Back at the Park we had a mug of tea and then we continued
on our hike up to the Bowl campsites and beyond to where I
knew of another iron furnace. Unfortunately this furnace had
suffered the ravages of time and no doubt the trampling of
animals, for it had been broken to pieces. There were
however, vast quantities of slag scattered around. From here
we returned to Headquarters and taking Inguluvane, we drove
to yet another area much further from the Park to have a look
at another iron furnace that I had found many years ago. This
one was still in prime condition. Also in this area are a
number of grain bins in good condition. Our monthly hike
ended at the top of a large granite dwala, with a fine vista
towards World's View and farther afield, Silozwi.
Two of the grain bins we found
This hike had been very rewarding, in that we had found what
we had set out to find and because of finding some slag from a
furnace at the poacher's cave, this led to extending our hike to
look at other known furnaces near to Gordon Park. These
furnaces were built by the Makalanga and Abenyubi some two
hundred years ago and additional ones later by the Matabele
who had moved into the Matobo Hills.
23rd July 2010
We arrived at Mubukuwene just before 7.00pm to meet for our sausage sizzle. Chris was already
tending the fires so we opened our meeting and soon were playing a cheerful game with the
tennis balls whilst we waited for the fires to burn down to coals. Norman insisted that we needed
some culture of the 1960's so he pulled out his old Grundig reel to reel tape player and we were
treated to hits of his time.
'Gosh, it has burnt to a frazzle'
When it was time to braai we broke loose from the
tape player and prepared our food. For one of our
scouting tests we had to cook backwoods, (this is
cooking without using utensils, but with items that one
would find in the bush i.e. a stick). So, I put my meat
on a stick and began to cook it. However my brother,
Kevin deciding to be more adventurous made
scrambled egg in a hollowed out orange. So, whilst
listening to the 'classic hits of yesteryear' we cooked
our meat and egg and then had the pleasure of
enjoying our efforts. Kevin's scrambled egg was nice
but it had a very powerful tang of orange. Very
different! After we were full with our food we were
pretty much at the beginning of the songs that we had
been listening too all evening. Then we were treated
to 'Yellow polka dot bikini', one more time before
closing the meeting. We left for our homes feeling a little more 'cultural' and Kevin complaining of
the 'burnt orange tang in his mouth.
William Arnold Carnegie Assegai Competition
31st July to 1st August 2010
We left from the church where we always meet when going out to Gordon Park a little earlier than
usual, so that we could get the campsite at Gordon Park that we wanted. We arrived at the Park
and quietly loaded the nqola with gum poles, ropes and our bags and pushed it up to the Bowl
Parade Ground. Unfortunately, the 76th Bulawayo (Gifford) Troop had arrived before us and they
had chosen the site that we had been wanting to use, but no train smash, we took the one next to
them. We quickly got some firewood, our Troop dustbin and the gum tree logs that Chris and I
had chopped up the previous weekend. Chris being Chris, immediately got to work on clearing a
space for us to make a 'temporary' fire and get some hot water on the go to make coffee. We
were to construct an altar-fire later on, on which to cook during the competition.
The alter-fire took a while to construct, so we put up the tarpaulins for us to sleep under. Whilst
Kevin and I prepared dinner, Declan and Chris put the finishing touches to the altar-fire. By nine
o'clock we were all tired so we decided to go to bed and get up early in the morning to set up the
rest of our camp.
We woke up early and firstly put the water on for coffee and the usual 'scouts oats' for breakfast.
Whilst waiting for the water to boil we started on building, first the washing-up area, then benches
around the camp table, a rack for our bags and the Troop box. The time for the competition to
begin drew close so we changed into our uniforms, tidied up the camp site and headed down to
the Skipper Knapman Training Ground for the opening parade. We had a busy day as we were
backwards and forwards, running between bases, doing our spare time activities as well as
preparing our campfire song and letter.
Below is our letter:
I think myself that if Baden-Powell were here at this competition, he would say:
I am glad to see that you young lads are still part of the Scout Movement, as it is
a real privilege.
I am also glad to see that you are enjoying yourselves as well as learning useful
skills. I am delighted to be back in this beautiful place seeing you all learning and
having fun. I hope that you young Scouts appreciate the out-doors and are
treating it with your greatest respect.
Now back to this beautiful Matopos where I developed most of my skills that you
young Scouts now use today. From the knotting, whipping, pioneering to the
camp-fires and all the other activities you Scouts do, I hope you do them to the
best of your abilities. Always remember, you my Scouting brothers, I am glad to
see you enjoying yourselves and all working hard together. Do everything to the
best of your abilities and never give up. May the best Scout group win.
Stay safe and always 'Be Prepared'.
Written by: Michael Dodds
Speech given by: Declan FitzPatrick
Following the campfire we had our dinner and fell exhausted into our sleeping bags.
For the second day we woke up early, had breakfast, yes OATS again and coffee to make us
bright eyed and bushy tailed. Doing a quick tidy up of the camp and changing into our uniforms
we were ready for morning parade. The rest of the morning was filled by going from base to base
undertaking tests based on our scouting skills. During lunch time we dismantled our camp
gadgets and got ready for the closing parade. The time we were all waiting for had finally arrived
and, yes it was us who won the 2010 William Arnold Carnegie Assegai competition.
Declan FitzPatrick, Michael Dodds, Christopher
Mackenzie and Kevin FitzPatrick
Judges: Jolly-Jolly Mate and Bekezela Ndebele
One Hundred Kilometres of Adventure
29 August to 2 September
Chris, Kevin, Norman, Mike and Declan
'Chappies, it is about time that we held another
hundred kilometre hike and we had better do it
now in these school holidays as we will not be
around in December'.
Well, the stampede nearly bowled me over.
Preparations were made in less than a week
and so it was that we met at Gordon Park on
Sunday afternoon where I left Inguluvane
stashed away to await our return four days later.
Mike's dad, Mr. Dodds, kindly offered to take us
to where our hike was to commence at a point
on the Bulawayo - Kezi road in the Kumalo
Communal Land, approximately one kilometre south of the National Park boundary at
Waving cheerily as Mr. Dodds drove off back to Bulawayo, the five of us, namely Chris, Declan,
Mike, Kevin and I shouldered our ruck sacks and headed off into the sunset. Yep, quite laterally
into the setting sun. Our destination was to a kopje going by the name of Bulale only two
kilometres away. Once at the kopje we put our packs down and went in search of a cave that I
had last visited forty years ago. Although we found many over-hangs with Bushmen paintings, my
memory failed me and we did not find the main cave. By now the sun was low on the horizon, so
collecting our packs we headed in a southerly direction until we found a suitable site to make
camp. As a precaution, we made our presence known to the villagers we passed, telling them of
our intention to camp in their area for the night. We were warmly greeted, received their
permission and so felt quite safe.
Early, Monday morning, having had a breakfast of oatmeal porridge, gee we really ought to
change from this gruel; Chris set a brisk pace southward to the Whovi River. From high up on the
eastern range of kopjes and looking toward the southwest we saw the imposing Njelele massive
some ten kilometres distant. The name, Njelele is of Barozwe origin and it is closely connected
with the Mlimo worship, a sacred hill or the hill of the deity. This was one of the holy places,
perhaps the most venerated spot in Matabeleland. Although no longer regarded as a place where
the Mlimo resides it is still treated with awe and reverence.
Damming the Whovi River
Dropping down to the Whovi River over the hard baked
soil of a dry Matabeleland veldt, we were relieved to find
a good flow of clear water meandering through the sand
banks of the Whovi. We stopped here for a twenty
minute rest. Well, not really a rest, for the Scouts were
soon busy constructing dams in the river. Great fun. Our
route was simply to follow the river for the next eight
kilometres to where the Kezi road crossed. Easy
navigation, but hey we did not count on the scratching,
clinging, thorn scrub nor the boulder strewn bed of the
river. Not being a match for such treatment we headed
out from the river and up onto the right hand bank to
follow the footpaths of the villagers. We even had the services of a young lad who put us onto the
main 'drag' which took us to Natisa Shopping complex about three kilometres from our intended
road/river crossing point. We had made good time and made ourselves comfortable by sitting
under a tree outside the bottle store we enjoyed a soft drink and packet of dried fruit.
Having refreshed ourselves, we wandered along the Natisa - Silozwi road heading in an easterly
direction for the next part of our hike until we reached Nduba Primary School where we stopped
for our lunch break. For us, lunch is a long drawn out festival for we do not care too much for
hiking in the hot midday sun; that is only good for mad dogs and Englishmen. Whilst I inspected
the inside of my eyelids, the others dashed around madly, for Chris, Mike and Declan had
stopped at this very school two weeks previously on a one hundred and fifty kilometre cycle tour
that they had undertaken. The real purpose and joy of school holidays. Kevin, being ever active
joined in the fun. Where they found the energy beats me. Anyway, some time during their
frenzied running around, Chris found time to make lunch, piping hot savoury jaffels. Mmmm, were
Chris the wandering Matopos Minstrel
On having a close look at the map, we decided to follow a farm
fence line to a point just south of Silozwi kopje. On finding the
fence, we were treated to a well maintained fire-break and it was
along here that Chris found a homemade guitar. The fire-break
proved to be a welcome relief to us, no bundu-bashing as we had
expected. It was not long before we came to our first obstacle,
the Maleme River, which we had expected to be a mere trickle.
Oops, we were confronted by a huge pool. That is what we
thought, for having diverted our route to find a way around it we
discovered that it grew in size and was in fact a dam. Not being
marked on the map, our map was old and the dam new we
retraced our path back to the fence. On a closer inspection of the
dam below us from on the bank where we stood, we could see a
definite path crossing under water to the other bank about fifty
metres away. OK, a crossing point. As my Scouts hike bare foot,
they just waded into the dam, at the same time hitching their ruck
sacks high up on their shoulders. I, being a wimp, removed my
hiking boots and followed suit. Once across, we continued
following the fence in an easterly direction.
Crossing the upper reaches of an
unexpected dam on the Maleme
Having left the southern edge of the Matobo kopjes behind us,
we found ourselves in open woodland of mixed trees, but
mainly Terminalia and Burkia. On nearing the end of the fence,
we again encountered kopjes. At this point we decided on
changing direction for we could now see Tovi, a massive kopje
which we were to go passed the next day. Using Tovi as our
reference point we hiked through the open woodland following
game trails until we reached the road coming out of the hills
into the farming district. Along the way we passed many
middens containing white, dog like droppings. On checking
what they could have been, we were informed that they were
the droppings of the Spotted Hyena. By now it was getting late
and we were still too far from the Mtshelele River to reach it
before darkness, so we decided to make camp near a village
where we were sure that we could obtain water. Mr. Dube at whose homestead we had arrived at
welcomed us and allowed us to collect water from his well. We made camp away from his
homestead at the base of a small kopje in a glade of trees. The light from our campfire provided
our little camp with a warm cheerful glow. When the fire had burnt down to coals, we turned into
our sleeping bags for the second night of our hike.
The next morning we discovered that our arrival had caused much excitement, for visitors came
into our camp to find out who we were. They were amazed at how far we had hiked and even
more amazed at how far we still had to go. In discussing with two young men the best route to
follow to reach the Mtshelele River, they volunteered to lead us part of the way as there were
many paths in the area and that we may just follow the wrong one. The prospect of personal
guides to get us to the Mtshelele River where it was joined by the Toghwana River was too good
an opportunity to pass up. Once at the river, we bade our friend's good-bye and headed for Tovi
which by now was only four kilometres away. The bush telegraph works fast, for when we met
Adam, who works at Gordon Park on the Sunday following the hike, he told us that he had heard
that we had camped at Mr. Dube's homestead and that two youths had taken us as far as the
Our approach to Tovi was obstructed by a series of low kopjes at its base and we took the wrong
route. Blunder, for we ended up bundu-bashing through thick bush and clambering over large
boulders. We had a rest near the top of Tovi and then headed down the steep northern face to a
path that we had followed on our one hundred kilometre hike of last year. We found our campsite
of last year but decided to proceed further as there was no water in the small stream adjacent to
A lunch stop was made down stream where there was water. Once again the Scouts abandoned
me in favour of exploring the river and having a much needed wash. We again had jaffels for
lunch after which it was my turn to bathe in the crystal clear water of the little stream.
A dinner fit for Kings
Mid afternoon we resumed our hike heading for the
Gwandavale road which was about four kilometres to
our east. Once on the road we followed it for a short
distance until we reached a gap in the range of kopjes
flanking the Tokwe River. Once we were through this
range the ground fell away towards the Tokwe/Tuli
confluence, our next point of reference on our hike. The
shadows were lengthening by the time we reached the
Tokwe and a little further, the Tuli River. Our aim was to
make camp on the Tuli River just above its confluence
with the Tokwe River. On walking up the Tuli, we found
an ideal campsite, with access to a large pool from
which we drew our water. Towering above and keeping
a watch over us was the kopje Mwanawapakati. Dinner
of boerewors braaied over the hot coals of our campfire supplemented with freshly boiled
potatoes and green peas all smothered in a rich tomato and onion mix was just heavenly. With
nightfall came the night sounds of the bush-veldt and being next to a river the croaking of frogs
added to the sounds of the night. Life could not have been more idealistic.
Boulder hopping is an exhausting
The morning air was cool and invigorating, which we
were thankful for as we had another long day of hiking
ahead of us. We had not gone more then a hundred
metres when we were confronted by a blockage in the
river. At this point the bases of two kopjes met in the
narrow confines of the river resulting in the river having
to carve out a passage so leaving a jumble of boulders
obstructing our path. The rapids formed were a serious
impediment to our route, but not daunted, we climbed,
scrambled, squeezed and boulder hopped up and over
the rapids to exit upstream to the tranquil meander of the
river. We found ourselves on the true right hand bank of
the river which was in the National Park. On the other
side of the river was the Matopo Communal Land and a
path used by cattle and people. We decided to cross
over and follow the path upstream. Further, as the path
was against the kopjes, we were treated to a shady walk in what was becoming a hot morning.
A Stone-age hiker joins us on our
hike. Labazimba Cave.
Whilst hiking along this section, Chris our pathfinder noticed
a shelter to the right of the path, which walls were covered
in well preserved Bushmen paintings. On looking around he
found more paintings on the adjacent rocks. It was not
much further on when we left the river and headed up a
tributary, which took us out of the Tuli gorge. Up and up we
climbed until we were at the top of Labazimba, two hundred
and twenty metres above the Tuli River. By now we were
quite exhausted, for not only had we climbed in altitude in
over a short horizontal distance, but we were now out of the
cooling shadows of the kopjes. Hiking in a huge semi-circle
we crossed from Labazimba to an adjacent kopje which
contained Labazimba cave. Here we had a rest and viewed
the fine paintings within.
On leaving the cave we stopped at a homestead where
the owner boiled water for us to make our morning tea. Naturally we got to talking about the
weather, cattle and crops and his livelihood. His business was that of carpentry, which was quite
evident from the tools and stocks of tree trunks laying about his yard. Mid morning was drawing
near, so bidding him farewell our next stop was Manene kopje and cave three kilometres further
to the northwest. Passing a village on the way gave us the opportunity of stocking up with a
number of Pampel moes, a most refreshing fruit. A lunch stop was called at the base of Manene
under a huge Mimusops zeyheri tree. Alas it did not have any fruit.
Before leaving for our next destination and night stop, we climbed to the cave on Manene, a
beautifully shaped cave with paintings. Children however, had ruined these by scribbling in black
charcoal all over them. From here our route took us out of the valley and over the top of
Tonamambe at the top of which we looked around for a cave that we had been told about. We did
not find the cave, but we did find a few paintings on scattered rocks. Then it was on the hike trail
again this time heading for Buhwe kopje at which we were to camp our final night of the hike.
It would have been great if this
Python could have given us a ride.
This section of the hike was through beautiful forests and
alongside clear running streams where the villagers gather
firewood and graze their cattle. We eventually came out
onto the Ginqa River where we were joined by two young
men who showed us the way to Buhwe kopje. It was early
evening by the time us weary hikers reached Buhwe, but
our hike for the day was not yet over. Buhwe contains a
splendid cave with Bushmen paintings and so our guides
insisted on showing us the cave even in the growing
darkness. Back to where we had left our kit, permission
was granted for us to camp the night alongside a bush
fence that is constructed in the Communal Lands around
their mealie fields. This was not the sort of campsite we
would have chosen, but we had no choice.
As summer is approaching, the eastern sky is beginning to brighten up earlier each morning and
so our rising had kept pace with the dawn. Today was to be our last day of hiking and we had
stopped short of our intended destination the day before, by three kilometres. This meant that we
would have to hike twenty-three kilometres in the morning if we were to be in Gordon Park where
we were to end our hike by lunchtime.
Saying our farewells to the people from whom we had obtained our water, we were surprised and
delighted to be joined by our host as he volunteered to be our guide down the steep side of the
Tuli River gorge and then to direct us to a path which would take us through the north-eastern
corner of the National Park and on into the Gulati Communal Land. The view from the top of the
Tuli River gorge looking to the north, west and south was awesome. Beneath us forming a
mosaic were the fields of the rural people, with the Tuli River meandering across the valley floor.
Then far on the western horizon we could just make out the shape of Shumba shaba, our beloved
sentinel keeping guard over Gordon Park. Closer to us, about halfway was Gulati kopje our first
reference point of the day on our way home.
Our guide shows us the way
across the Tuli River
The path down to the valley floor was steep and
winding giving us good vantage points to view the
scene below. Once at the bottom we crossed the Tuli
River, which was a mere trickle over some logs that
had been laid to form a bridge. Then following up the
Kantotola River, a tributary coming in from the Matobo
National Park, our path took us along the dry sandy
bed to a place where we left the river and entered the
natural forests of the National Park. Here we said
good-bye to our guide, Mr. Ndlovu. Through the
forests we hiked for quite some distance until we
came to the boundary fence separating the National
Park from the Gulati Communal land. Not stopping for
a rest we entered the forests of the Communal Land
and only stopped for a rest when we again reached
the Kantotola River near the site of the Kantotola battle in which Baden-Powell was involved in
1896. We were now in familiar country and we knew that our destination was not that far away.
On the fourth day of hiking, we shouldered the saddle on Shumba shaba and gazed down onto
Gordon Park, nestling in the Mtshelele valley. A familiar sight, but more welcoming than usual for
we were hot, dirty and tired from our morning's walk and down there behind the Stables was a
shower waiting to cool us down and bring life back into weary bodies. We put our packs down for
the last time outside the Stables at 14.00 hours.
The Matobo Hills is map reading country and that is what we did, we map read our way for a
hundred kilometres through the Hills. We also carried with us a GPS which had recently been
donated to the Troop by Gordon Park Crew Member, Graham Ross. Graham and his wife Angie
farm in Headlands. Chris as our hike leader, path finder, pace setter and cook had carried the
GPS, as he knew how to use it. We used it as a check on the distance we had hiked, and as a
matter of interest our altitude at various places. On the home leg along the Kantotola River Chris
punched in Shumba shaba and proudly announced that we had only ten kilometres to go, plus
another two to Gordon Park. So there we have it, one hundred kilometres as measured by GPS.
My map reading, when using a scrappy piece of string on the map put it at a lesser distance, but
then using this method on a flat map doesn't take into account the ups and downs.
I would like to congratulate the four Scouts on their achievement, Chris at seventeen years of
age, Declan and Michael at fourteen and Kevin at eleven, for their spirit to achieve. We were
fortunate in having good weather, found water along the way and especially for our night camps.
A hundred kilometres in four days over rough terrain is some achievement to be proud of.
To the Parents of the boys, a sincere Thank You for allowing your sons to go wandering off for
four days not really knowing where they were other than in the Matobo hills. To the Scouts, you
will long remember your adventure, be proud of your achievement for not many of your
contemporaries can boast of such an experience. Long may you continue to have an adventurous
spirit and the strength of body and mind to make it a reality.
| || |
The world is out there
And if you work flat out
You'll still only see a fraction
Before you fall off your perch.
Get out the books,
Get out the brochures,
Save your money,
Get your jobs,
1st Bulawayo (Pioneer) Scout Troop Programme of Activities
for September - December 2010
'Celebrating One Hundred Years of Scouting'
1909 - 2009
Troop Programme of Activities for:-
30 Aug - 2 Sep Four day hike
3 Troop Meeting: Mabukuwene
7 Schools open
10 Troop Meeting: Mabukuwene
11 Boys Skills Course: PHQ
12 Gordon Park Service: 12.00 noon
17 Troop Meeting: Mabukuwene
24 Troop Meeting: Mabukuwene
25 Provincial Cookout Competition
1 - 2 Monthly Hike
8 Troop Meeting: Mabukuwene
10 Gordon Park Service; 12.00 noon
15 -17 JOTA/JOTI
22 Troop Meeting: Mabukuwene
29 Troop Meeting: Mabukuwene
5 - 6 Monthly Hike
12 Troop Meeting: Mabukuwene
14 Gordon Park Service: 12.00 noon
19 Troop Meeting: Mabukuwene
26 Troop Meeting: Mabukuwene: Sausage sizzle
27 - 28 National Patrols Competition
2 Schools close
3 Troop Meeting: Mabukuwene: Last meeting of the year
4 National Tree Planting Day
6 to 7 Jan. Roof of Africa Expedition
12 Gordon Park Service: 12.00 noon
25 Christmas Day
Additional Activities may be added to the Programme