The road from Zimbabwe to Zambia

As a South African, Zimbabwe is our neighbour. We have millions, yes millions, of displaced Zimbabweans trying to make a living in South Africa. At one stage our home affairs department gave asylum seekers a period of amnesty. I don’t think they can keep on top of the problem.

South Africans have not always been kind to their neighbours. Sad stories of xenophobic attacks have been in our newspapers. So it was with this in mind that I viewed Zimbabwe. I suppose I was expecting thin people in threadbare clothing wandering around  with dejected looks on their faces.

Friendly Zambian guy on border bridge

I have been to Zimbabwe before but that was a long time ago. It was a business conference and I flew in. The whole affair was lavish and we had a really good time. I do recall my boss was sick as a dog from anti malarials. I don’t take them.

The roads in Zimbabwe were a bit tired and lacking in basic markings and signs. I did find it unfair that despite no speed limit signs the traffic police bolted out from behind a bush and flagged us down. Overall Zimbabwe was green and lush and I can see why it was once known as the fruit basket of Africa.

The people of Zimbabwe rival the Namibians for being thoroughly decent and friendly. They say the reason Robert Mugabe remains in power is that Zimbabweans are too nice to revolt against him. I would go with that.

Bungee jumping at Victoria Falls

We got to our hotel, The Elephant Hills, a bit early. They allowed us to offload our luggage and have our lunch picnic on their grounds. The area was beautiful and the lawns were perfectly manicured.

After lunch we headed off to see Victoria Falls. Other excursions on offer included a lion walk, a helicopter flip, bungee jumping and even river rafting. Vic Falls are the third largest in the world if you average out all the waterfalls with regard to height, width and volume.

Victoria Falls

They were selling raincoats at the roadside stalls but I decided I didn’t need one. Mistake! The mist from the Vic Falls is like hard driving rain in parts. Thank God I had my camera, cell phone and passport in a waterproof pouch. I got soaked through to my skin. My clothes were dripping wet.

There are crafters all over. You have to just say no to them or in seconds you will be over run with over eager traders. They haggle with you for the clothes off your back in exchange for wood and stone carvings. I took the bus from the hotel (free) and went to the big market where I found fabric, jewelry, wooden bowls and salad servers, table cloths and so much more. I swapped my old running shoes and some T-shirts for items.

A soaking wet Greenie

Our hotel was fantastic. My fears of not having toilet paper were unfounded. The chamber maid popped in to freshen the room a few times and they had fancy bottles of shampoo, bubble bath and whatever they put in rooms.

No shortage of food either. The buffet was wall to wall. Stuff I don’t even see in South Africa. The service was excellent and the staff charming and so helpful.

We had a morning lie in and after our fabulous breakfast we piled into our truck for the last time to head for Victoria Falls Airport. It’s not a big airport. Don’t bank on having lunch there. I flew to Johannesburg, our guide and her partner flew to Cape Town and the Germans all flew back to Germany. And just like that. Our holiday was over!

Would I do it again? Hell yes. What would I do differently? I have to say, much as I really enjoyed camping, I enjoyed the nights we spent at a hotel or lodge. I relished having a long hot bath all to myself and not having to rush and queue for a shower. It was also great to have breakfast cooked and made and not having to do dishes and pack away.

But I will also say this, I was very, very lucky with our guide, who is also a friend of mine. I ate well. She is an excellent cook and she loves cooking. In my case, she is open to vegetarian cooking. A rubbish cook could ruin a trip like this.

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