Zimbabwe

August 2017
A 14-day adventure by LouisaJames
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  • Day 1

    Rural Zimbabwe

    August 9, 2017 in Zimbabwe ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    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.Read more

  • Day 2

    Harare

    August 10, 2017 in Zimbabwe ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    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

  • Day 4

    Eastern Highlands

    August 12, 2017 in Zimbabwe ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    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

  • Day 5

    Great Zimbabwe National Monument (ruins)

    August 13, 2017 in Zimbabwe ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    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.
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  • Day 7

    Horse Back Safari

    August 15, 2017 in Zimbabwe ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    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

  • Day 8

    Lion Feeding

    August 16, 2017 in Zimbabwe ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    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

  • Day 8

    Walking with Elephants

    August 16, 2017 in Zimbabwe ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    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

  • Day 8

    Elephant Interaction

    August 16, 2017 in Zimbabwe ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We had a couple of mornings where we went and had time with an elephant, feeding it and petting it. We also had the chance to sit up on its back and cling on whike it stood up. They are trained through positive reinforcement, gaining food treats as a reward. It showed that they are still wild animals when one elephant refused to sit diwn and allow our friend to get off her back. She had to climb onto the shoulders of the elephant trainer.Read more

  • Day 9

    Antelope Park

    August 17, 2017 in Zimbabwe ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    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

  • Day 9

    Walking with Lions

    August 17, 2017 in Zimbabwe ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Believe it or not, these lions are only cubs! They are 21 months old and retire from walking with tourists at 24 months as they become to grown up. These four have already made three kills while on walking tours and tried to make their fourth today. We were out for about 1 hour walking with them and were only safe as long as we stayed in a pack. One girl strayed from the group and was hurriedly reined in as the three lions took to stalking her from the long grass! Demoing that they are still very wild creatures. When they were play fighting we got an idea of the size of them and the power as the male one jumped up.Read more