From Malawi to Zimbabwe - Antelope Park

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November 6th 2007
Published: November 9th 2007
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Hello everyone at home,
it is me once again from Antelope Park outside Gweru, Zimbabwe.
After leaving Lake Malawi, we spent another two nights in Lilongwe, Malawi, to stock up for the upcoming trip to Zimbabwe. Everybody, and especially me, was dreading it. Zimbabwe, in the news almost every night for a deluded leader and economic desaster! So we spent two days in Lilongwe to load up the truck with food, fuel and all other necessities. The next day we left for Mocambique. I can say that I haven't seen anything of this beautiful country except some monstrosities of spiders in the bushcamp - a shame! We crossed the boarder to Zimbabwe the next morning, and it was unexpectedly uncomplicated. While heading towards Harare, every single person on the truck was absolutely stunned: yes, there is no food on the shelves, and petrol is hard to obtain, but why are the streets so quiet? And how come that Zimbabwe is by far the best place i have seen in the whole of Africa when it comes to infrastructure and housing? When we were driving through the suburbs of Harare we couldn't help but shake our heads. it was by far the loveliest African city I had seen so far. Then again, I got a bit of a taste of the economic situation when I was told that the water in Harare comes on once a week, same kind of problems with the electricity, and to get a cold beer in a campsite you should be very, very lucky.
The next day we left Harare behind and drove to Antelope Park outside Gweru. No exaggeration - the best campsite i have seen so far. We were very well looked after and offered tons of activities. For the first time I really splashed out and booked about ten things to do, reasonably priced of course. On the first afternoon there we all went 'walking with lions'. The lion walk is without a doubt the attraction of the place, and it was absolutely worth the whole trip to Zimbabwe. We were brought out of the camp into the bush, where two trainers with four fourteen months old lions were awaiting us. They are still cubs, very playfull, but nearly the size of full grown cats. So for a while we were walking, the four lions in between a group of six, and occassionally they would lie down so we could cuddle them, or they would play with each other, which gave you a taste of the strength these kitty-cats already possess. This afternoon definetely brought a smile on my face! Cuddling with a lion! How cool is that?!
The next day was more chilled out, I saw the elephant training in the morning (the elephants were playing football, some of them seemed to be doing better than the Irish team lately 😊), and went horse riding in the afternoon. Yes, i asked for a beginner horse, but why did they have to give me the oldest horse in the stable? I couldn't help but constantly apologising to this poor creature, who had a hard time carrying me. Anyway, the horse ride was kind of cool cause it brought us very close to antelopes, impala and wildebeest, a game drive on a horse basically.
An elephant swim had been scheduled for the day after. The day was drizzly and cold, so we didn't know for a long time what was going to happen as the elephants weren't pleased with the temperature of the water. To be honest, neither was i: i was struggling for about two hours if i should skip it. I was visiting six months old lion cubs in the morning, and at half past eleven we finally got word: the elephants are in the water. In a quick decision I got on the jeep that brought us out to an artificial lake, where three elephants were in the water up to their trunks. They brought them out of the water, we mounted them and walked back in on their backs. From their on, it was an hilarious experience. Our elephant didn't want to stay up, he just constantly flopped and pulled us under. I was holding on to our guide and an elephant ear for the whole time, screaming. The elephant was perfectly happy splashing about, didn't mind the three people hanging on to him at all. In the end, he let us mount again and took us out. It was the funniest thing ever.
So all in all, Antelope Park is probably one of the best places in the world if you wanna get close to lions and elephants, i have enjoyed it so much words cannot describe it. We left on Wednesday morning, and drove a u-turn to the Great Zimbabwe ruins, set in granit stone on a hill top and dating from the 12th or 13th century. To see this proof of civilisation in supposedly 'savage' africa was a rewarding experience. Although this meant that we reached the camp at 9 at night, and i was on cook duty, and it rained heavily, i think it was totally worth it to see this beautiful place.
That's it from me, love to everyone is home, hope all are safe (give me some signs of life out there, guys), and you will hear from me shortly.
Love, Katja


9th November 2007

no cold beer on the campsite?? we need to get the U.N. on to this as soon as possible!
11th November 2007

Katja, All of your blogs are interesting, but this one is most intriguing. The newspapers offer a one dimensional view of various African nations, but you add a light, insightful view. Keep the blogs coming. Your trip is a once in a life time experience and your blogs are one way those of us stuck at home can enjoy it.
13th November 2007

Thank you, Katja!
Hello, Katja! Greetings from California! I will be joining the Antelope Park team in June as a volunteer for six weeks with their lion breeding project. Although I am very exciting about helping the park with their mission, I have been a bit brain washed by the media in regards to the safety and situation in Zimbabwe. So, it was so refreshing to read about your experience... thank you. Wishing you safe travels, Katia.

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