We took a short cut to get into Zimbabwe, down a small side road for about forty miles/62k.to the village of Siavonga, and from here across the vast dam that created the 110k long lake Kariba and onto the small town of Kariba.
In the sprawling grubby town wildlife comes from out of the bush and wanders the streets. On our way to the campsite there were elephants at the roadside and we even had to wait for one to move out of the way so we could go through the camp gate. There were hippos wandering around the camp at night and crocs basking on the lake shore, just outside the bar.
In our campsite we pitched our tent in the shade of a Jacaranda tree, I just had to write that, it is so evocative of Africa to me, so many authors have written such a phrase and I have been waiting for an opportunity to use it myself.
Moving on we went to Mana Pools safari area, where we camped on the banks of the Zambezi, for a change we had hyenas and honey badgers as our night time visitors.
Talking to a guide we asked where was good to go, he told us of a lion kill yesterday, and if there is still meat left they will still be there. We raced off like bats out of somewhere, unfortunately when we got there; there was only a naked carcass left. But only about one hundred metres away from this feast there was a camp with three or four tents, wow. Why do other people always get the luck?
As we go south it is necessary for us to stay in a B&B or two en route, The first town we tried to get a room we spent a bit of time going from place to place for a vacancy, it turns out that there is a general election soon and everywhere is full up, well almost everywhere. I think that Bob must have sent his goon squad out to the provinces to try and drum up votes.
We had a very quick try in Harare for accommodation failed and moved on to Nyanga, to a one time home of Cecil Rhodes, we camped in his front garden. This place has a bit of altitude, and the day time temperatures of 35c. plus, dropped to minus freezing at night. If we wanted to stay any longer (which we do) we are going to have to sort through our African safari luggage to see what we have that will be suitable for Arctic survival.
We are now wandering south, down the eastern highlands so we are expecting a few cold nights, at of our stopping points in the Bvumba hills we went to a place called Tony’s for a coffee and cake, it is in a fantastic setting and really great coffee and cake, I had to send Helen to pay for it in case I wilted at the price.
That night we were at 1800 metres, and were fed up with cold nights so we stayed in a hotel, Helen tells me our dinner, rump steak, cauliflower, peas, carrots and chips, with two ginger beers (we know how to live) was cheaper than the coffee at Tony’s. Although we are ambling we are also hurrying, because of the elections, they have never come in the top ten of tourist attractions so we want to be out of the country when it all goes down.
In Mutare we went to a Toyota dealers, I hate main dealers but this time I decided to bite the bullet and get my bits the easy way, “I want a bracket like this for my anti roll bar” “just a moment………….no sorry we don’t have” “OK I want two bolts like this” “just a moment……..no sorry we don’t have,…you can go to the auto breakers down the road, they have everything.”
I would have to say later we went to a Toyota dealer in South Africa for a steering joint to be done, after a four hour wait they came back with a list of what needed to be done, but could not do any of the jobs as they do not have the parts. I am glad I bought a Toyota!!!
Some while ago the Magarbe administration a bit of a problem with inflation, people were spending money quicker than the presses could print it, I seem to recall that the largest denomination note was ZW$ 100,000,000, Bob the man, decided to adopt the US dollar as official currency, when we came 2-3 years ago we needed to make sure all our notes were less than a certain age, anything with the wrong head cashier on, or whatever it was, was not acceptable. Now the one dollar notes are a scrungy mess, it is difficult to make out that it is a bank note let alone what year it was printed.
And they still have a problem with change, there are no US coins, go in the shop, your goods come to ten dollars fifty, no change. If you are very lucky you will get some South African rand, if not it is sweets or pens, in a pharmacy Helen got ten paracetamol as change. Maybe they think I give her a headache. The one that really winds me up is diesel, they almost fill the car up, if it comes to, say, $70 they poke down the bubbles with the fuel nozzle and squeeze a little more in, now we are up to $70.50 and they have no change. I fume (just a little) I have tried asking them why they don’t think, and stop when they are on a round figure! I have given them rand coins, sweets, whatever, but they are not very happy with that idea. They are not very happy huh! I just drive down the road scoffing Helen’s surplus paracetamol in an effort to try and calm myself down.
Approaching the border we are dropping out of the highlands and it is getting warmer again. And finally we went to immigration and then to customs, with the usual fiasco with the carnet. But we get through and then cross the Limpopo and we are in South Africa.
Zimbabwe is a super country with a lot to offer, but under the present management it is very run down and disorganised, it is difficult to get to some places and even more difficult to get any information. Hopefully one day that will all change.
There are some photos on ;- http://picasaweb.google.com/mickhelen99
I am having trouble with the map markers on http://www.zeemaps.com/map?group=468852.