A Cricket Stadium and the Wukuvisi Woodlands
- 6 July 2013 -

I couldn't imagine visiting Zimbabwe without seeing Harare, at least a little bit. So on Saturday morning Johan and I decided to find a local taxi and head out for the morning.

We weren't totally sure where to go, so we asked the guest services at the hotel if they had  any suggestions, needless to say, the guest services lady wasn't the brightest, she initially gave us a pamphlet for "The Book Cafe" close-by which specified some activities related to books. Well I'm not sure what other tourists ask for when they come visit, but I'm sure "The Book Cafe" isn't the highlighted attraction. I'm sure it is worth a visit, but not when one wants to checkout Harare in a morning. Regardless we did get a map and some other information.

Renting a taxi from the hotel is an expensive affair, so we headed out towards the street in the morning and found a couple of taxis parked nearby, picked the first taxi we saw.... negotiated a bit and agreed on a price for the day. We also agreed we would meet him a little later as we first wanted to check out the immediate surrounding which was within walking distance.

Our hotel was situation directly opposite the "Africa Unity Square", where there is a reasonable amount of activity during the weekdays. We first checked this out and then moved on to an Anglican church which I had been eyeing for a couple of days from my Hotel window.

We tried finding different angles so I could get a decent photo, but we weren't too successful so I settled on the view I had and then headed back towards our pre-arranged taxi waiting for us.

When we arrived back at the taxi.... there was a local family getting into our taxi, but when our taxi driver saw us he quickly chased them out and directed them to another taxi. 

We headed out, passing the presidential residence (exciting stuff).... our taxi driver first took us to the Sam Levy Village Mall, as we entered the parking area I mentioned to our driver that we weren't woman and shopping isn't the plan so he headed out to the next stop on our itinerary... Doon Estate. Although this was just another form of a mall, we didn't complain and decided to check it out.

When we arrived we approached an outdoor gallery where hundreds of stone sculpture are presented under some trees on the one end of the estate. We met up with Eliot, a local artist who sculpts some abstract art from stone he buys outside of town. The sculptures were quite good.

Once done viewing some very interesting artwork we headed towards the shops located on the other end. 

Some interesting stores, but anything I liked was in the form of wooden furniture, which is a bit big to fit into my bags so we move on.

They have a couple of nice coffee shops too, where kids can play under the trees, and evidently leave their shoes lying around. We didn't buy anything or drink any coffee so we found our driver who had found a seat under a tree and headed off to the Harare Botanical Gardens.

A quick peak inside an indoor desert, within a structure clearly designed to keep water out.... we a path leading into a forest and without hesitation, we entered!

First we found a strange tree that makes an awesome amount of shade that has weird fig-like fruit growing from the stem of the main branches. We didn't try eat it, but did admire it's uniqueness.

It is clear that these botanical gardens have been around for hundreds of years, some of these trees are really old, with some really good examples of typical African trees.

After walking around for about 45 minutes we decided it was time to go find our driver again. As we exited we quickly viewed the map that is posted at the entrance and realized we hadn't even covered even a quarter of the property... but we weren't planning to turn around and commented that we should have checked the map out when we entered and planned our route accordingly.

Next door to the botanical gardens is the Harare Sports Club, so we decided to visit the Harare Cricket Stadium.

To reach the cricket field we passed through The Keg and Maiden pub.... a really cool sports pub, who stocks and locally brewed "Castle Lite" and a imported version from South Africa. We bought a local one, found a seat outside on the edge of the field. Although there wasn't a match on the go, we could really imagine ourselves enjoying a good game of cricket here.

The upkeep of the stadium is impressive and it seems they encourage people to use the facilities too.

Next was the Wukuvisi Woodlands, advertised as a 248 hectare site. This time as we walked in we inspected the map at the entrance to see the route we were going to take. This place was 4 times the size of the botanical gardens and we needed to know where we were going.... we were not going to make same mistake twice.

Turns out that it is about 248 hectares big, but only "1" hectare (I might be over-exaggerating slightly.... it might be 2.... either was is was not big at all) is available to the public to explore. We had our whole route worked out, but when we reached our first destination after about a mere 100m we realized that this is way smaller than what we had first imagined, and that the information and map at the entrance led us to believe.

The lookout point did yield some wildlife, some humorous wildlife too. There was an antelope getting some shade under a small shack, and a crazy ostrich obsessively, and when I say obsessively, I mean seriously obsessive, something like a small child with OCD,  pecking at the edge of rubber tyre, when it was clear there was nothing there. The sign-work was also "impressive"...

There was also some cute little creatures labeled as "wild fowl", imagine that.... I had spent my entire life imaging they are domesticated Guinea Pig, but maybe there is something I don't know. There was also a dead buffalo's head.

My favorite part were the birds. When we entered we paid an additional $1 for access to the bird park. After searching a while we found an unmanned entrance, with some cages. They were all filled seriously cool parrots and macaws. We inspected them closely until we found some loose ones wandering around on the floor. 

After having a very friendly cockatoo dismantle my shoe laces we decided to call it a day, after all we had only negotiated a half day rate with our taxi...and it was time to get some work done anyway.

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