Bongani Ndlovu Showbiz Correspondent
WHITEWATERS Dam in Gweru is a wonderful venue for a trip out of town with friends.
I recently drove up there with a couple friends for some boat and horse rides, beautiful scenic views, braai facilities and bar.
Such trips are not to be undertaken off the cuff but have to be planned carefully in order to factor in all expenses.
During our preparations prior to the trip, we decided that a full tank which cost $84 for my friend’s BMW 3 series would be enough to get us to Gweru and back.
Because Whitewaters allows you to bring in your own food and drinks, we bought meat worth $40 including beef, pork and chicken. We also got vegetables that we’d use to make our salads and we’d buy our isitshwala at the venue.
One of the most important aspects of the trip, the alcohol, was also bought before we took off for Whitewaters. We bought drinks worth $60, saddled up our cooler box filled with ice and drinks and off we went to have some summer fun.
Our total costs came to $200 so we each had to contribute $50 towards the bill.
We set out for Whitewaters at 9AM on a Saturday but we had one unhappy trooper.
Our designated driver was prohibited from taking any alcoholic beverage, which didn’t go down well with him. Apart from the driver’s complaints over what he deemed as unfair treatment over the drinks issue, the journey was smooth, save for the seven police road blocks that we encountered along the way.
We sang along to the latest house and R&B tracks pumping out of the radio system and would periodically stop at some spots to stretch our legs and dance to the tunes, much to the amazement of the people in cars that were whizzing past us.
When we got to the Gweru City Centre, we took Chivhu Road and travelled for about 20 kilometres before we came to a turn which had a sign written “Whitewaters”.
Travelling on the meandering dust road, we realised we needed a high riding car because the BMW was very low for the rocky patches along the way.
We arrived a little after 11.45AM and gained access to Whitewaters after paying a $1 each. Upon arrival, the first thing that one notices is the dam that stretches as far as the eye can see and three gazebos for visitors to sit and relax.
We decided to visit Whitewaters because we wanted to see a place that was different from what we were used to in Bulawayo. It had become monotonous for us, going to the same places to braai and meeting the same people over and over again.
Whitewaters was just what we needed.
After stretching our legs and getting a feel of the place, we unpacked the meat and headed to the braai area where we were greeted by two burly looking women, Mai Fortue and Mai Sharon. After exchanging pleasantries such as being called a vakwasha of which we asked where the bunch of varoora were, drawing rapturous laughs from them, we handed over all our meat.
They suggested we try the boat ride which takes between 30 minutes to an hour, while they prepared our lunch. We headed straight to the boats, where we found a man named Thomas. He informed us that it cost $5 per person for the boat ride.
Without hesitation, we gave him $20 and before we sailed away, we took our various beverages that we had in the car. The ban on the designated driver was still in place so he got fruit juice which he took under protest. Thomas handed us life jackets to put on and off we went after buckling up.
The eight-men boat with its droning engine moved off with the skipper Thomas at the bridge while we were seated at different spots around the boat watching the scenic view.
After about 30 minutes, we came face-to-face with the high walls of Wha Wha Prison, after which Thomas turned the boat around to head back to the shore. We all agreed this was the best decision we had made.
Thomas said there were neither hippos nor crocodiles in the dam so we relaxed a little as we were on the lookout for these dangerous creatures.
When we got back to the shore, feeling a bit jelly legged; we were famished and headed straight to Mai Fortue and Mai Sharon who had already finished braaing our meat. We paid them two dollars for isitshwala and a tip before heading to a gazebo overlooking the dam.
As we were eating, we noticed that the place started to fill up with cars mostly with couples and their children, some filled with ladies on a girls day out.
Most were, however, students from the Midlands State University.
This was a cue for whoever was the DJ to take out the speakers from the bar, which started blaring Zim dancehall music which was very popular. Those who were there for fun started dancing and we gladly joined them.
As this was going on, we noticed there were horses some distance away so we left the eating area to investigate. Upon getting there, we found out that horseback riding was another activity offered at Whitewaters.
Memories of a youth camp flooded me and I was reminded of a horse that bolted into a thick bush as it ran amok with someone on its back. It dragged the victim who didn’t fall off as his right foot had been snagged in the stirrups.
It was caught after about five kilometres with the victim having suffered a broken ankle and countless bruises on the body, so I declined riding the horse despite concerted efforts by my friends for me to have a go. The ride cost $2 for a 10 minute ride.
The rides went on without any incident as I stood watching.
Before we knew it was already 4PM. We had to head back to Bulawayo to avoid travelling at night. We said our goodbyes to the staff and hit the highway.
When we got back to the City of Kings, we agreed to go back, this time with more people because it was an exciting trip.