Zimbabwe: Animal Paradise On Your Doorstep

Darwendale Recreational Park
Darwendale Recreational Park

When many people are planning on going for a holiday they think far and wide, yet there could be a place close to their doorsteps. On the outskirts of Harare, just 76km to the west, to be precise, is a recreational park befitting a weekend outing for all and sundry — Darwendale Recreational Park. That you can see small doses of the elegant sable, corkscrew-horned kudu, shaggy waterbuck, spindly-footed impala, secretive reedbuck, common duiker, ugly warthog, boisterous baboon, agile velvet monkey and the sacred porcupine on the shores of the lake is just a marvel.

For the discerning fishermen, Darwendale is a prime fishing destination attracting local regional and international anglers. The Mozambique bream, Hunyani salmon, the energy-sapping tiger fish, barbel, parrot fish, bulldog, spot tail, bass robustus and African mottled eel, can all be caught in Lake Manyame water body which swallows 8 100 hectares of Darwendale Recreational Park.

Fishing is the main attraction and bass fishing attracts thousands of fishing enthusiasts annually where fishing tournaments are held frequently with the most distinguished and world renowned being the Bass Masters Tournament. It is from this tournament that the record catch of 18,4 pounds was made in 2004.

The recreational park has two lodges, an array of campsites, caravan sites and picnic sites and firewood for cooking purposes can be purchased from the main park office. The two lodges are situated 2km from the main entrance and 500 metres from the park office.

The lodges, which have two bedrooms each, have a fanstastic view overlooking the lake.

National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority provides cooking utensils and have fitted the kitchens with stoves and refrigerators.

Each lodge has an open-air braai where visitors can catch the lake breeze. A communal campsite situated close to the boat launch pad is an ideal place for fishermen.

It has well-kept communal ablution blocks with bathrooms showers with hot and cold running water.

Water points and braai points are dotted all over the place, while the lake is only a spitting distance from those who may require fresh untreated water.

It is encouraged, though, to carry long electricity extension cables in case the camping point might be far away from the mains.

The caravan site shares the same ablution with the campsite while picnic sites are dotted along the north western shore of the lake. There are 10 viewpoints for the lake and each site has a braai stand.

For water enthusiasts, boating skiing and yatching are common. For bird watchers, there is a variety that will keep you busy, through and through.