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The long road home

Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe

ZIMBABWE | Wednesday, 12 March 2008 | Views [1092] | Comments [1]

Rhino stalking, Yup, Simon really is standing that close to a Rhino.  Anneke was hiding behind a tree at this point, hence no photo!

Rhino stalking, Yup, Simon really is standing that close to a Rhino. Anneke was hiding behind a tree at this point, hence no photo!

Malawi is a desperatly poor but very beautiful country. We spent 6 nights travelling through Malawi and camped on the beach at Lake Malawi most nights. The lake looks like and ocean, with beaches and sandy shores. It was lovely. And while it sounds like all we do is lounge on the beach... there are some long, hot, bumpy (this being Africa!) days on the truck before we get to each place.

On the lake we hired a peddle-boat and spent the morning paddling around near our campsite. A small kindergarten nearby had seen us and all the children came out and waved us into shore before they sang and danced and practise their english with us.

Zambia was literally a blink-and-you-miss-it country. We were just transiting through for 3 days, the last day of which we spent most of the afternoon at a shopping centre stocking up on supplies for Zimbabwe.

Such is the situation in Zimbabwe at the moment that most of the supermarkets are empty and its really difficult to buy food - especially fresh produce. So armed with massive shopping lists we managed to stock our truck for the 12 days we are in Zim.

We are really enjoying Zimbabwe. Its a really amazing country which is made very depressing by the current political situation. We'd read the stories about the Zim dollar and hyperinflation but nothing really prepares you for the BAG of cash you are handed when you change up USD$20 (and you don't change anymore than that at a time because it may not be worth anything tomorrow). Zim has funny parallel market system whereby foreigners are not allowed to hold Zim dollars unless they hold a bank receipt to prove it was changed at the bank. Problem is that USD$1 is only worth ZIM$30,000 at the bank, whereas its worth ZIM$20 million on the paralell market (a week ago when we arrived in Zim it was worth $15 million)- and the prices in the shops are based on the paralell market. Needless to say, we are avoiding the banks.

At the moment the largest note they have in Zimababwe is $10million. Its worth 50 cents. 18 months ago when the note was issued it was worth USD $400. Its a very sad situation.

But we have loved Zim and all there is to do here. We spent 2 days on house boats on Lake Kariba in the north near Zambia. Then a couple of days at Antelope Park where they have a Lion breeding program and you can walk with the lions, play with Lions cubs and Swim on the back of an elephant (which Simon did, I played with baby lions instead!).

From there we headed to Bulewayo where we met the "Steve Irwin" of Rhinos. We actually got out of the Jeep and followed this guy along the path of the Rhino until we found 2 adults and a baby.  This guy (Ian) was something else.  He was just so interesting to listen to and we founf out some much about the bush and Africa's animals.  He showed us several plants which could kill us in 30 seconds.  Told us about the Bush-men of Africa (Remember "The Gods must be CrazY" movie?) - he even speaks some "bush-men" complete with the clicking of the tongue.  Anyway, back to the Rhinos.  He was picking up handfuls of dung and explaining the difference between Black Rhino Dung and white rhino dung (Black Rhino eat twigs and leaves as well as grass - white only eact grass). He got really excited when we came across dung he reckoned was 15 minutes old.... and it was white Rhino dungm which was good since apparently the Black Rhino are "nasty" and will charge (I thought all Rhino were nasty but what do I know?).  If you can imagine us all hunched down, sneaking through metre long grass, upwind from the rhino, heading for a wee bush to perch behind.  We were within 8-10 metres of the rhinos and it was pretty darn scary.  Mother and baby walked off so we followed them for a bit.  Then the Bull (3 tonne adult male) came closer for a wee sniff, I was seriously crapping myself.  Simon has a great photo of him with the rhino behind him.  But there was no way I was turning my back to the Rhino! After about 20 min we retreated and returned to the main group, where I noticed the other guide (who was taking a group in after us) was carrying a gun. I asked our guide why the other guy had a gun and he didn't.  He told us "I'd rather loose a client than shoot a Rhino".  And that pretty much summed up Ian.  He was so passionate about the Rhino, his knowledge was amazing (and I was pleased I was not with the group heading out next knowing what he'd just said!).

We are now in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, where Simon has thrown himself off Bridges (he did the Gorge swing twice - like a Bungy except you swing throught the gorge rather than bounce around on a bungy).  I did a huge flying fox through the gorge which was awesome too. 

Tomorrow we head into Botswana and the last 3 weeks of our trip.  We're looking forward to a bit more "1st world" comfort.  Tap-water you can drink, supermarkets which actually have stock..... maybe even a washing machine (oh what luxery!).

Tags: adventures



Hi Anneke,
Wow this makes for fascinating reading. What adventures you guys are having!! Africa is my dream place to visit. We have Antonia's wedding next weekend. Very exciting! Take care and enjoy!

  Rebecca Faull Apr 9, 2008 6:13 PM

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