15.07.2011 - 17.07.2011 20 °C
15th July 2011,
We enter Zimbabwe after one of the longest border crossings yet, unsure what to expect. First impressions are good: everybody is waving at us again. After a few hours, we arrive into Harare – the capitol. It’s the first place that has been built up and developed in Africa. It’s quite a surprise. There are some beautiful properties, with acres of land, but each house is surrounded by a six-foot electric fence and barbed wire. Even the windows have metal bars across them.
We spent three nights camping at Bird Park – 28 kms out of Harare, around a beautiful lake. We’ve pitched our tent 6m from the edge of the water only to find after that it contains crocs! We wake in the morning, to find two Zebra’s strolling amongst the tents. It’s incredible and a real reminder of how wild Africa is.
After breakfast, several of us take a Matata (local mini bus) into town where we unexpectedly find a very cosmopolitan cafe and enjoy coffee (with real milk!) and cake.
After three nights, we leave Bird Park and move on to Antelope Park. Set in a private game reserve the park is run as a breeding programme for rescued Lions. During the day temperatures reach 25 degrees, but on an evening they drop down to below zero. We wake with frost on the ground, cold after little sleep. Camping isn’t much fun in these temperatures, and cold showers are unbearable. On the second day, I wake at 5.15 and meet my guide who takes me out to walk with two lions – Leowa and Liona. Leowa is 7 months old and Liona is 10 months old. They stroll along next to us, occasionally leaving us to wander off into the fields…
Our final stop in Zimbabwe is Victoria falls. One of the worlds largest waterfalls by width and height and also home to a host of adrenaline activities from rafting to bungee jumping. I contemplate the bungy but I can’t get excited about it so I don’t sign up. On our second day, I take a helicopter flight over the falls. Having never been on a helicopter before I’m really looking forward to it. Sure enough the flight was incredible, and the only way to comprehend the size of the falls and the River Zambezi. I’d walked along the falls the day before, but they seemed a hundred times more impressive from the air.
We’re in Victoria Falls over a weekend, so on the Saturday night, most of us go out for a few drinks. At 2am, we leave the pub after a boozy night ready to walk the short 200m back to the campsite. It’s pitch black outside, and we can’t see a thing. The Chief shoots off skipping up the street. We’re all laughing and singing. Jess and Nicole G decide they need a wee and cant wait until we’re back at camp so they go off into the bush. Derek comes back and tells them that there are homeless people in the bush and they should get out. We hear rustling. Derek takes a couple of steps into the bush and shouts to leave us alone, thinking it’s homeless people. We shine the torch into the bush, but instead of people we pick up the silhouette of a massive elephant. In disbelief, we search for it again. It can’t be an elephant. This time it’s looking at us straight on, its ears opened wide. It stomps it’s foot and blows its trunk. We run as fast as we can. I drop my purse, stand in some elephant dung and lose a flip flop, but keep going – I’d rather stay alive. Nic loses her flip flop too. Tuc falls over the elephant dung and takes the end of his toe off needing first aid when we finally get back to the truck. We reach the campsite – thankfully it hasn’t followed us. No-one can believe it, and a few people want to go back. We sneak carefully back up the road and retrieve our belongings. The elephant is not happy, so we wisely decide to leave it alone...