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Published: November 6th 2008
Dawn at 5 am is a bit unkind to us old fogies, but we were up a little later as our first stop was the Museum in Matari
which didn’t open till 9 am and about which we had heard so much. But first we stopped to refuel.
No problems but we were interested to find an aged English lady working in the Fuel Station Shop. There was not much for sale but she had organised a small bakery there selling mouthwatering buns while the other goods there - quite a comprehensive selection and by far the best we have seen anywhere - she imported herself from SA to sell. Naturally we were inquisitive and she was only too pleased to offer us advice as to where we should go. She was most kind.
The museum was far too expensive for our liking, just greedy prices for our meager supply of US$, so we walked out without seeing it, sadly. Instead we took this good woman’s advice and drove about 25 km into the hills behind the town, to a place called Leopards Rock. The road wound its way high into the hills with lovely scenery all around and eventually arrived at the Leopards Rock Hotel. This was a complete surprise to us - it was so unexpected. It was a grand building, built by Italian PoWs during World War 2. The rooms inside had manorial fireplaces, with furniture to match, and clearly the whole place had the ambience of some well known castles in Scotland. Everything spouted superlatives. The outlook was spectacular with views down to distant hills but, immediately in front, was the golf course which boasted European PGA approval status. The grass was green and there were lovely water features around the course. Just as well we had no clubs with us, nor the time to play - or we might have been tempted! We didn’t ask what the green fee was either.
After morning coffee on the patio where we admired the setup we returned to Matari and followed the other advice the good lady had given us. We headed south for about 50 miles and then turned left (east) back up into the hills again to a place called Chiamanimani
to a private lodge where we were told the comfort was wonderful and the price very cheap. We wound our way into the hills again, finally passing through thousands and thousands of acres of pine and gum forest to reach our destination.
Sadly there had been horrendous fires through these plantations and the destruction was extensive. So sad. Anyway, the lodge was okay but the price was too high so we set about finding the other campsite there which we had heard about. It was down a road into a National Park and there we came across the most wonderful site below a cliff which must have been 300 or 400 metres high, or more, down which water cascaded in a steady stream to a pool at the foot. We immediately decided to camp there and Camilla was into the pool without hesitation. She said it was very refreshing - we all thought she looked very cold!
Unfortunately the Park staff found us and insisted on us paying which, in the end, was far more than the lodge would have cost us - but it was much more fun! We had a lovely night there, with the continuous noise of the falling water lulling us to sleep.
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