Published: October 2nd 2006August 24th 2006
Thursday saw us getting up at 04:30 to catch our flight to Harare via Johannesburg. We arrived in Harare at about 14:00 and were met at the airport and taken to ‘The Rocks’ campsite on the outskirts of town.
Two truck-loads (20+) of people were already there, which was not what we were expecting. We were also a bit concerned to find out that we were joining a group that had started in Kenya and had already been together for 3 weeks. Our fears were unfounded as we were given a warm welcome by all. We were introduced to Murray the truck and invited to join the group for dinner. The group consisted mostly of Aussies, Kiwi’s and English.
The campsite was pretty run down, toilets horrid and our room not much better, no clean sheets or pillows.
Saturday was a free day to roam the streets of Harare. We went to the bank to change some money via the official route as some establishments insist on seeing your receipt to prove that you obtained your money legally. The black market exchange rate is more than double the official bank rate.
Harare was a bit disappointing, it
Mother & Child
Famous rock formation in the Matopos
is very run down and we didn’t feel very welcome. We had lunch and decided to walk back to the campsite, which took 1.5 hrs! In the evening we joined our group for a few drinks in the bar and tried to learn a few names, there were 27 people on our truck so it was a pretty daunting task!
On Sunday we boarded Murray and headed off to Antelope Park just outside Gweru. It was a long day’s drive, the truck can only go 80kph (50mph). Laura slept and Phil played cards with the boys.
On the way we stopped at Macro to stock up on supplies. The group was divided into cook groups and we all took turns to cook the evening meal and the following day’s breakfast and lunch, this included doing the shopping for the group. The food in general was excellent, we never had the same dinner twice and there was always plenty to go round. On average we cooked once a week.
Antelope Park has a lovely campsite on the edge of a dam. There were a number of activities we could do as optional extras, we settled on a lion
walk and cub viewing.
We spent Sunday walking around the campsite, doing laundry and reading books. Phil played cricket with the boys in the afternoon and Laura went for a walk with the girls to keep warm as the day was overcast and cold.
Monday, the Lion Walk was awesome! We walked for about 1.5 hours with three 13 month old lion cubs. Don’t let the word cub fool you, these kids are big. They rubbed up against us to greet us and were very playful, it was a fantastic experience!
In the afternoon we spent 20 minutes playing with two 2.5 month old cubs. They weren’t particularly frisky, but we were able to stroke them and play with them - they were adorable. We went out canoeing up the river in the early evening, the birdlife was wonderful.
On the 29th we reluctantly left Antelope Park and headed for the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. It was a long truck journey and we arrived at the ruins mid-afternoon. After a late lunch we went on a guided tour of the ruins, our guide Philip was very comical and had some good stories. The current history of who
built the ruins was a bit suspect though, just goes to prove that history is written by the victors.
Wednesday saw us in Bulawayo, we had the afternoon to explore town which is in a much better state of repair than Harare. We camped at Bourkes Paradise but had a slight issue with an ant invasion, we got to bed eventually. In the morning we went on a Rhino safari in the Matopos Park about an hour from Bulawayo. We tracked some white rhino on foot and managed to get very close. The weather wasn’t all that great so the game viewing was few and far between.
We had lunch back at camp then got on the road to Victoria Falls. Unfortunately there was a train crash earlier in the week which meant that we couldn’t go overnight by train to the Falls. We passed the time in the truck reading and playing cards and arrived in Vic Falls just before 8pm.
We spent 4 days in Victoria Falls and managed to fit in white water rafting, a booze cruise and a flight over the falls. We had a great time, Phil particularly enjoyed the rafting, though
Laura was a little less enthusiastic. This may have a little to do with the fact that the raft flipped on the very first rapid which was a grade 5 (6 being the most difficult). We flipped again on rapid 7, which was a little less scary. We were on the water for about 6 hours (24 rapids), so tired doesn’t even begin to describe how we felt, it was a very long day. The DVD makes excellent viewing.
The town of Victoria Falls is pretty much a tourist town and you’re constantly harangued to buy some knick knack or other. The curios are fantastic but shopping gets a bit tedious with the vendors constantly badgering you to look at their stalls.
We spent our last day in Zimbabwe walking around the falls. They are a truly awe inspiring sight and no photo could ever do them justice. We were there at low water, they are even more spectacular during the rainy season.
We also said goodbye to half the people on our truck and had two new starters. We’ll be down to 12 for the trip to Cape Town. Tomorrow we head for Botswana…
There are more photos below