Zim and Zam, October 2010

Well in my last week of travels I have crossed briefly through Zambia and Zimbabwe.  After the comparatively wealthy and stable situations in Namibia and Botswana Zim and Zam are more like the pleasant African shambles that I recall from my travels through East Africa.  It’s a common saying in Africa that while Europeans have watches, Africans have the time!  This was never truer than the situation at the Botswana / Zambian border which is a short river crossing usually plied by 2 or 3 vehicle ferries.  Of course there’s only one ferry functional at the moment – like so many things in Africa when they break down they’re never fixed.  The lone ferry does 2 full cross river trips per hour and can transport one truck at a time.  With a queue of trucks close to one kilometre long waiting on each side of the river the average waiting time is 1 week to get on the ferry!!  Of course the drivers can’t leave their rigs or their cargo would be ransacked – so if I ever complain about being in a queue again I’ll remind myself of those poor truck-drivers ground to a halt!

I have spent a couple of pleasant days at the mighty Victoria Falls – locals call it “The Smoke that Thunders”. With a 107m vertical drop and 1.7km in width it is truly a sight to behold. The water levels are low at the moment before the rainy season but I’m told it’s almost impossible to see the falls in high water for the drenching spray blown up from the narrow cataract below.  I have been staying at The Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe – the oldest hotel in Africa and still a jewel in Zimbabwe’s crown.  It is everything you would imagine a colonial African hotel to be  – it oozes old world charm with every thinkable hunting trophy on the walls, memorabilia from the British Empire Marketing Board and photos from the British monarchy visit in 1947.  High tea is of course an institution here still, served on “The Terrace” overlooking lawns where warthogs often graze and with an impossibly scenic view of the Vic Falls bridge and “the smoke” arising from the falls themselves.

To wind down I have passed the last couple of days relaxing at a safari lodge in Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe.  It’s renowned for large herds of elephants that drift in to drink at the waterhole in front of the lodge each evening.  Without too much effort we also spotted a white rhino wandering by.

Well unfortunately this is the end of the adventure here as I’m flying back to Johannesburg and home this afternoon. Until the next time that my feet get wanderlust, I hope you have all enjoyed a snapshot of the journey with me.


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