Drifting down the Zambezi

Trip Start Nov 02, 2003
Trip End Mar 01, 2005

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Flag of Zimbabwe  ,
Tuesday, December 7, 2004

A... Once we'd got used to Zimbabwean inflation in Harare we headed North East to Lake Kariba, lying between Zimbabwe and Zambia. In 2001 US$1 would buy you ZIM$38, today it'll get you ZIM$5,500 in a bank, or ZIM$8,000 on the black market, and it somehow now costs the equivelent of US$8 to send a postcard home! Thankfully, despite the appalling state of the economy, and the disastrous impact of land reforms, most of the people seem genuinely friendly and hospitable. Anyway, we were made rather more welcome than the average British journalist.

Lake Kariba is surrounded by national park, and was a great spot to spend a couple of days on a houseboat relaxing and walking through the park looking for wildlife. We got pretty close to a couple of very wild elephants and saw lots of hippos and crocs and all sorts of wierd and wonderful birds. We even had a go at fishing, and wait for it.. caught some fish! Admittedly most were barely bigger than the worms we were using as bait, but Caroline caught one that the guides considered worth keeping for their dinner.

Matopo National Park near Harare...

C... Another suprise from Zimbabwe was Antelope park, a beautiful campsite in an even lovelier setting, slightly lacking in antelopes. The star attractions though were the lions! In the park they breed lion cubs, which are walked fed and well looked after until the age of two when they are released back into the wild. Thats a lot of walkies, so hordes of overland trucks arrive every day, with willing passengers with a few dollars to spend on taking a walk on the wild side.

A... As well as taking man eating lions out for a casual stroll we also got to watch them being fed - from inside the cage. Amazingly, we all lived to tell the tale, though Bondy does bear the scars of a vicious savaging from probably the tiniest lion cub you will ever see.

At Antelope Park I also got to try my hand at PoloCrosse. As you can tell I'm a natural.

From Antelope park we drove to Bulawayo, then had a break from truck life as we got the overnight train to Vic Falls. We slept in very cosy old Britich sleeping cars, complete with wood panelling and Rhodesian Railways insignias etched into the mirrors. Sadly it seemed from the state of the train that before independence was the last time they did any maintenance on it.

C... We are now in the adrenalin capital of Africa! Vic falls, the easiest place to throw hundreds of dollars into a waterfall. Adrian is currently strapped to a small board and riding the rapids, followed by some more bouncy rafting. Tomorrow we will be taking a microlight (a hang-glider with a very small engine on the back) over the mighty Zambezi and hopefully the falls, providing it stops raining first.

It is a small town, with packs of overlanders throwing themselves into the gorge on various types of rafts and ropes, some that bounce, some that swing, and some that stretch right across. Once jellified they all gather in the various drinking establishments and loose consciousness and small pieces of underwear. Most don't actually see the falls from an artisitic view point, but they certainly get close.

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