Ostrich Burgers, lion walks and funny money

Trip Start Dec 16, 2005
Trip End Jun 12, 2006

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Flag of Zimbabwe  ,
Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Up early to complete booking my overland tour and to get some more US $ for the rest of my trip. Travellers cheques can be difficult to use in some of the countries going forward apparently.

Took advantage of the full English on the menu, very nice sausage by the way, before taking a minibus to the border with Zimbabwe.

Good views back to Vic Falls for the tall bridge crossing the Lower Zambezi. I also got to look down over the drop the bungee jumpers take on the 3rd highest jump in the world, all 111m of it. Border formalities were a doddle, but like Zambia, the Zimbabwians also didn't like the English and stung me for $55.

I arrived at the shoestring backpackers in Victoria Falls town for 11:30am to find out that my driver and assistant were still fast asleep in bed.

Met James, Charlie and Liam, 3 gap year students who I would be sharing the trip with. The other people were Kate, a 26 year old Kiwi, Nina, a German practicing law in NY for the last 7 years and Jackie and Byron, 2 Americans from Washington living in Liberia for the last 2 years. They all seemed nice enough.

Ordered an ostrich burger for lunch, very much like beef, and changed my $30 US into Zim $. I got over $5m in a wad that was over an inch thick.

In Zim the largest currency in the $50,000, but in reality there aren't that many of them and the $20,000 is what you usually get. A beer cost $150,000, so you need at least 8 notes to pay for it. Go out for an expensive meal and you need a wheel barrow! The new notes, such as the $20,000 are funny. They must have been made in such a hurry to cope with the massive inflation they look more like monopoly money and were just about blank on the backs!

Checked out the overland truck, it was a monster Scania truck with high up seating area attached to the back. It does look like a pretty cool truck for travelling in though.

On a whim I booked what was billed as a walk with the lions for that evening! All the money raised goes to a program to re-introduce lions into the wild. Their numbers have dropped for 250,000 in the distant past to 20,000 a few years back with an estimated 8000-15000 left today.

The idea was that you walk with the lion and are part of their pride and help them with their evening hunt!

Out lions had caught a baboon the previous evening and were stuffed. The didn't really want to walk and preferred to just lay there and digest their food from the previous night. Still a fantastic experience as you were able to get up close and stroke them and the guides would get real close and play with them, pulling out their claws and sticking their fingers in their mouths to show off their teeth. Based on some conversation and the scars of the guides it became apparent that these lions often sunk their claws in to humans! This made me happier that they had eaten baboon for dinner the previous night and were now feeling docile!

Overall a fantastic experience and highly recommended.
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