Day 293: Bulawayo Bound

Sun. 2nd June 2013

Goodbye HwangeWe are sad to be leaving The Hide as we climb onto the safari vehicle for one last time at 7:30am. It is not for the morning game drive like the remaining guests, but heading out of the park to Hwange Safari Lodge where we will pick up the Pathfinder “luxury” bus to Bulawayo. This time Kate drives us and we head off down the familiar track past gazelles and hornbills. We even see an elephant and a young giraffe but after all the photos we have taken over the last few days cannot find the energy to bring our hands out from under our blankets into the cold air to take a photo. By the time we cross the railway line and Kate tells us it used to be the longest straight line section in the world (the honour now goes to Australia (I believe) at around 100km, we stirred ourselves to take a photo.

Straight for 100kmAs we pass out through the park gate at about 9am we see two larger game vehicle crammed full with guests from the park camp. We reflect on how fortunate we were to be at the other end of the park where we only saw two other vehicles during the whole of our stay. One appeared to be carrying a professional looking photographer and wife, the other was a cheetah conservation group doing research. There certainly appeared to be less wildlife the closer we got to the park gate.

Impala at the safari lodge waterholeThe safari lodge looked comfy enough with its swimming pool and watering hole for game viewing, as we wandered around with a coffee waiting for our bus. We watched these gazelles grazing by the waterhole. The waiter kindly informed us that the bus driver had called and they would be arriving in about fifteen minutes, all very efficient.

Pathfinder busThe road to Bulawayo is part of the main route from Cairo to Cape Town and in parts is straight and boring for miles. The bus took three hours and we were served with soft drinks and sandwiches which was good for a light lunch after all the good food we have been eating. To while away a few miles of the journey I sing to myself  “We are the Matabele we come from Bulawayo” which I learnt at guide camp, so am quite pleased we have come here to put a place to the song.

Entrance to Nesbitt CastleWe were met from the bus by Patrick, the manager of Nesbitt Castle, where we are staying for the next three nights. The hotel is in a castle built by an eccentric Englishmen (in the early 1900’s), so it seemed an appropriate place for us to stay. It was not until 1990 that Digby Nesbitt bought the place when it was in quite a bad state and carried out extensive work to convert it into a hotel with ten very individual rooms. We are staying in The Turret and our en-suite is down a set of stairs in the corner of the room. (Could be a bit of a death trap in the middle of the night!)

Our turret roomIn the afternoon we explored the castle and grounds, which included a small chapel where they hold weddings. We resisted a game of chess with the ornate two foot high pieces and also have still to explore the billiard room. The trophy room is incredible with an enormous stuffed crocodile (along with a photo of the team who ‘bagged’ him posing beside his dead body) and heads of various game animals.

Chess anyone?As we have no transport and the hotel is away from the centre we decided to eat in. As we are the only guests we ate alone, in this very ornate dining room with all the tables set. Instead of being handed menus, we had the maitre d’ reading the set menu out to us. With one waitress serving the drinks and a waiter serving the food, it seems like we have gone back in time. We had heard the food was good and it was – the lamb shanks proved to be impossible to resist!


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