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  • Day9

    We have had three amazing nights at Antelope Park, not only is it a relaxing place to stay with a great vibe, it has friendly staff and lots of wildlife activities. It is set in 1,215 hectares of bush with the main facilities set next to gardens, a river and reservoir. We were welcomed off the truck by some staff singing and playing the drums. Later on ponies, elephants, a bush baby and Jackie the donkey were wandering around camp! See later blogs for wildlife encounters. Our time here has been a highlight of Africa.Read more

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  • Day8

    Five of us went to walk with the four elephants, for over 2 hours. It was an amazing opportunity to just follow them as they walked through the bush, eating the trees as they went. While they are peaceful animals they have incredible strength which we witnessed as they were either pushing trees over or ripping branches off. The thick thorns didn't bother them at all while they were eating them. We were able to touch them or just stand by watching them, although we chose to give a wide bearth to the least friendly female. It was fun watching them at a mud pool, although we did get splattered ourselves! They store upto 20 litres of water in their stomach and listening to them empty their full trucks sounds like a huge hose being emptied.Read more

  • Day8

    A real highlight was witnessing some hungry adult lions being fed. Once the carcasses were ready and we were positioned behind a fence the lions were released. They made a run for the food with the dominant and fastest lion reaching it first. Quite something to watch when you're only feet away and lions are charging at you! We saw a couple of groups being fed and the best part was when one took a dislike to us being there and launched itself on his back legs at the fence, inches from our faces.Read more

  • Day7

    We went on a two hour horse ride through their game reserve where we saw giraffes, warthogs and wildebeest up close. In the distance we saw lions and elephants. It was a great way to see wildlife although James was told near the start that his horse doesn't like wildlife! Thankfully the horse behaved himself once he knew who was boss. Our route took us through open grasslands, thorny bushes and a waterhole.Read more

  • Day5

    We drove west across the country and stopped for the afternoon at the ruins just outside Masvingo. In the distance you could see a part of Lake Mutirikwe, just as we could from our camp that night. We were also treated to a meteor shower while lying down next to the camp fire.
    The ruined city is on a 722 hectare site and is the largest stone structure ever built south of the Sahara. It was a base for a succession of kings and rulers spanning four centuries and has subsequently had the whole country named after it. In Shona words it means 'houses of stone' referring to this and the hundreds of other smaller sites in the area. The first houses were built around AD1100 and in its heyday around 20,000 people lived there. Eventually the population outgrew the local resources necessary to sustain it.Read more

  • Day4

    We drove from Harare to Chimanimani, in the mountains to the east of Zimbabwe. We ended the last part of our long journey that day by having an impromptu Christmas party, including a sing-along to our Christmas album. Many of us realised that we had been away during the last Christmas so hadn't really celebrated it until then! We had lovely views of the mountains from where we stayed and enjoyed a relaxing day walking around the village, shopping for snacks, talking to locals and playing cards by a fire in the much cooler evening. They had an adorable dog that we wanted to adopt as our truck dog but not everyone was so keen (its owner included)!Read more

  • Day2

    We arrived in the capital of Zimbabwe yesterday, a vast contrast to the surrounding countryside we had been in. The avenues of bungalows made you feel like you were in parts of rural Britain, apart from the walls, electric fencing, barbed wire, security guards and bars on windows! We are having a couple of nights staying in a hostel so all enjoyed a meal out at a western restaurant where we welcomed three new travel companions and said farewell to one. The party then continued once we were back at the hostel with everyone getting along really well. Today, after massive bacon sandwiches that we cooked for ourselves, a group of us went for a walk into town. It was enjoyable just to wander around the streets, not being bothered by people to buy things but just happy to offer directions or just chat. Since 2005 their economy has been in serious trouble and physical currency is scarce. People are able to draw out only $80 a month. People pay by using their phones and doing a bank transfer at the till. We are using US dollars but have managed to get a $2 Mozambique bond which is equivalent to a $2!US. The bonds are produced so the currency can be devalued at any time. Inflation is such that in 2005 there was a 20 thousand dollar note, three years later a 150 trillion dollar note had been issued. It became so bad that notes produced in a morning had been made obsolete by the following day. Tonight we went to the Oasis house and had a local meal cooked for us. We had beef stew and sadza, a polenta like consistency made from ground maize, mixed with water and heated up. Each country we have been in has it but calls it something different.Read more

  • Day1

    We entered Zimbabwe this morning (three countries in two days). It seems very poor, with coal and cattle as the main source of income. The homes still have a small cluster of buildings but these round houses have a higher pitched, thatched roof.

  • Day1

    Yesterday morning we entered Mozambique to transit across the country on our way to Zimbabwe, which we have entered this morning. We paid $75 each for the privilege of doing so. We only saw the rural, northern part of the country, where there were interesting hillls dotted with tiny villages made up of many mud houses. Again, the people where fascinating to see the white people in a yellow truck. The one town we did pass through had a delicious bakery which seemed so out of place but served great coffee and cakes! We had a bush camp and fire last night and again this morning which Lou had to use to cook breakfast on as the gas started to run low (it's been refilled now).Read more

  • Day5

    We arrived in the outskirts of the capital yesterday, called Lilongwe, and left this morning but I don't think we missed much as it seemed like any other town. All the rest of our driving has been through rural areas, vastly different from home and very interesting to see. Apart from a problem with blue plastic bags littering the edge of each village, the scenery is very picturesque. Most villages are made up of rectangular and round mud houses, each home having a collection for either sleeping in, cooking in or washing in. All the water for the village is collected from a central hand pump and carried back on their head, age not mattering as we have seen very young children with small bowls on their heads. Apart from farming, people make money by making bricks or charcoal which they sell in white bags by the side of the road (this is what we use to cook with daily). Roads are pretty bad here so we are thankful for seatbelts when sitting at the back of the truck as you get thrown into the air a few times! It's much less bumpy at the front and less windy than the back when we drive with the sides up or the beach roof up.Read more

  • Day3

    What a way to celebrate a crew members birthday, go to the market and buy a fancy dress costume for someone else to wear! Think the ladies of the group got off lightly whereas cross dressing is apparently illegal in Malawi so just as well we stayed in the camp all evening. Not sure what the campsite owners children thought of us. We spent two nights here which gave us plenty of opportunity to swim in the clear blue water that felt more like the sea than a lake with the white sand. Lou swam to the island and back, about 1.6 km or 62 lengths of a pool, not bad with a hangover, and jumped off one of the high rocks there. The nearby river has crocs but they only occasionally venture into the lake at night, thankfully there were none around while we were there. We also had the use of old windsurfer boards to play on as well as a rubber ball that we picked up while driving through the rubber plantations on our riute to here. We were treated to a massive hog roast and jacket potatoes for tea.Read more

  • Day1

    After a lunch in between two countries waiting for visas to be issued, we drove into Malawi. A hill range with tea plantations marked the end of Tanzania and the beginning of Malawi, quite a marked difference. It's known as having the friendliest people in Africa and so far it seems to be the case. Lots of waving, shouting and running to catch a glimpse of the big yellow truck and it's strange cargo of musungu (white foreigners) leaning out the sides.
    The camp is on the sandy shore of Lake Malawi, more like a sea than a lake.
    Today we chose to visit the local town to have a look at the infrastructure and facilities including a school, hospital, day centre for orphaned children and the local witch doctor!
    More happy people who were very friendly and loads of children who just wanted to play and have their photos taken (in order to see the results on the screen). Not once were we asked for pens, sweets, money or passports.
    The school has 13 teachers with up to 120 children crammed into each room, with no desks or electricity. Louisa thinks she has a hard time with 30! We support UNICEF so it's interesting to see how vaccines are supplied, stored and administered by them. The doctor said that without that assistance the hospital wouldn't exist at all. The state of the hospital was shocking to see, with basic facilities and instruments. The doctors and nurses are doing what they can but funding from the government is limited.
    From this to a visit to a witch doctor who provides alternative mental, physical and spiritual treatments. After a quick dance demonstration to see how he gets into a trance we looked, smelled and snorted some treatments for various ailments - including a hangover remedy which is mixed with beer...... It's easy to be sceptical, but the fear of bad spells from evil witches is widely believed in here, so a great deal of faith and trust is put in this person.
    At the day centre all the children wanted to do was play and try on sunglasses, so we arrived, caused chaos then left! I'm sure the children see a few tourists but all they are interested in is playing and being entertained now!
    Quite an interesting but also thought provoking day.
    Read more