M’phingwe – serenity and harmony
M’phingwe – serenity and harmony
Our editor sweetened anarduouscross-country photographic trip to the Zambezi bridges at Caia and Sena with a treat for photographer Gigi and me - two nights at M’phingwe Lodge on the Catapu concession near Caia. Suitably bribed, we loaded the double cab with padkos and my husband, roped in as driver and emergency handyman.
Leaving the bustle of Tete behind us, we navigated the tiresomely potholed road southwest towards Chimoio, turning off at Changara and, much to our surprise, found the sandy dirt road in excellent condition, making better time on gravel than we had on tar.
Driving deeper into the rural countryside the landscape continually changed, enchanting us with autumnal russets, golds and deep pinks alongside startlingly fresh greens heralding the approach of spring. Ant White, owner of Catapu and M’phingwe, was later to remark on the unusual lack of autumn leaf fall, the trees hanging onto their colourful shawls throughout winter.
Our good cheer was rattled once on the EN1 - these potholes have their own postal codes and GPS coordinates. Our chauffeur rejected a request to stop and climb into one for a photo, as the setting sun was already glowing through the rear window.
On arrival at the lodge, tranquillity oozed into our pores as we got out of the vehicle, birds whistling and calling in the darkening bush. Warmly greeted by Ivone and Esperanca, we were ushered to the comfortable wooden chairs and bench seats surrounding a small fire. Fairy lights embraced the wild mango trees while solar powered lights lined the pathways leading to the wooden chalets.
We cluthced our G & T’s, Ant talked us through the vast array of projects the Catapu team are busy with and the activities offered by the lodge. There was no need to move from this slothlike position; Clara arrived with menus and a torch to take our dinner order. When our meal was ready we were called to the adjacent outdoor dining area and tucked into tasty, hearty portions.
The rooms are comfortably simple - cool cement floors burnished with red polish, fans stirring the billowing mosquito nets, mesh-covered windows, home grown and made wooden furniture and decor bits and bobs.
Ant is a font of information about the many places of interest in the vicinity. M’phingwe not only offers an assortment of activities on site, it is also centrally placed for many places of interest, and fitting everything into a weekend leaves no time to respond to the siren call of M’phingwe itself – to soak up the harmony and just unwind. But don’t unwind too much. Future issues of Zambezi Traveller will report on the reforestation project Catapu is engaged in, and the many community and environmental initiatives they have set up. Stay tuned for articles on honey farming and wood turning as well as their birding, wildlife and herbarium projects.
Home to over 260 bird species; pack your binoculars.
Surrounding forest offers beautiful walks and you are likely to see shy suni or nyala antelope, and samango monkeys in the canopy.
Catapu sawmill employs local craftsmen and homemade tools to turn out wood decor and artifacts.
An observation point on the Zambezi’s southern bank offers a great view of the beautiful Armando Guebuza Bridge at Caia.
Visit Sena and take a bicycle taxi on the DonaAnaBridge over the Zambezi.
Head to Chipanga and pay your respects at the grave of Mary Moffat, wife of Victorian explorer David Livingstone.
Drive through enchanting woodland of the Inhamitanga National Forest Reserve bordering Catapu.
Read more about the region in our destination guide:
Cahora Bassa & Tete
Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 14, Sept 2013)