Zimbabwe (Rowley - 1991)

Zimbabwe MapAnother favourite of mine with so much to see and do. Sadly for the people of Zimbabwe there are too many political problems at the moment to justify visiting their country (2005+). I spent about 4-5 months here. The main cities Harare and Bulawayo were definitely worth a visit. Bulawayo especially, as it has one of the best Natural History Museum's I have seen. My first priority though had to be Victoria Falls and the Zambezi.

rapids ahoy

RaftingI stayed in the town of Victoria Falls for a week and camped at the main campsite for this time. The Victoria Falls are absolutely stunning and the noise is just incredible. As I walked down the paths towards it the spray just hit me from everywhere and the rumbling got deafening. I decided to splash out a bit here and signed up for a day of whitewater rafting. I can't recommend the rafting on the Zambezi enough.

It's a great day adrenaline rushes when you approach the rapids and then real calmness and relaxation between the rapids. The raft I was in tipped quite a few times and sent the people inside scattered all over the place. There were rumours of an American tourist that totally disappeared on the Zambezi a few years ago while she was rafting. Whether she drowned or got grabbed by Crocs nobody knows. My rafting trip was with Shearwater and for a few extra quid they give you a video of the days rafting. Both the trip and the video are worth every penny.

the big one million and six? (including 1 million Money's)

ElephantsHwange National Park is where I headed next to finally focus on and enjoy the wildlife of Africa for a few weeks. I saw every animal I'd always dreamed of seeing: lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and wildebeest, as well as baboons, giraffe, hyena, warthog, zebra, gazelles, hippo and whole variety of antelope and small mammals. The only animal I didn't get to see that I'd always wanted to see was the Cheetah. Luck for me there was a Cheetah reserve in South Africa that I visited all the time so got close up to adult and young ones. One thing to be aware of when going on a Safari is that the early riser gets to see most of the animals. The struggle to wake up at dawn every day was worth it just to see all the animals in their natural habitat. Another good time to spot the animals is early evening. I never did this but I heard that horse riding Safari's were one of the best ways of seeing the animals.

HyenaThe main camp where I stayed was totally overrun by Vervet Monkeys which was always a laugh to watch. Some evening's when me and a group of friends had a BBQ going we'd see little red dots in the distance and the odd growl. This was pretty scary stuff as there was a resident gang of hyenas that were either after our BBQ meat or us.

Mountains and Minkeys here, there and bloody everywhere

MonkeyNext was the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. A very historical site of an old city dating back to the 13th Century. I camped here for a week and explored these old ruins for ages. I would have stayed longer but a tribe of cheeky Vervet Monkeys got the better of me and after stealing my cutlery, tea mug, biscuits, roll of film, padlock, scattering my last bag of rice everywhere and ripping some pages out of one of my books I packed up my tent cursing the light-fingered, hairy little sods.
Monkeys 3 - Rowley 0.

This wasn't the first time I'd had battles with the Vervet Monkeys and after a while I started getting paranoid that the same group were following me around during my travels...well it is possible isn't it!? After a while I just used some common sense and kept my stuff in the tent, which instead brought all the insects in the area into the tent. Insects 1 - Rowley 0. 

Starry, starry mountainous night

MountainsThen I headed off to the Chimanimani Mountains. These are stunning mountain ranges and an explorers dream. I was here for about a month staying with a couple of other backpackers in a hut halfway up the mountains. I did loads of walks up the mountains enjoying the forests, empty stretches of rocky areas and the fresh air. Needless to say, if it wasn't for my trusty compass I'd still be up there now, half starved wishing there were some of those pesky Monkeys and a frying pan.

For a couple of days I camped in a secluded cave up in the high areas, near a place called the Southern Lakes Pools which was a fantastic spot. I just chilled and watched the beautiful landscape and stared at the stars every night. There's nothing like a bit of star gazing when you've got an open fire going in Africa. 

close encounter of a Snake kind

Green MambaOn the way down from the Chimanmani's and back to civilisation I ended up getting lost again and had to camp in the forest as it was getting dark. It would have been too treacherous to try and get down from the mountains at night. After a restless night I got up early to set off again.

While I was walking down a sloping, forested area I stumbled and started sliding down. Luckily my feet stopped me before I gathered too much momentum. As I was getting up and brushing myself down I saw something rustle in the leaves by my feet and I crouched there totally still and watched for a minute. Out slithered a green snake. I was well scared. We stared at each other for awhile then it got bored and slithered off. Lucky for me I didn't slide further and roll on top of it it most likely would have taken a bite at me. I later discovered it to be a pretty venomous Green Mamba. In retrospect it was a beautiful snake to look at.  

Fevers and crunchy Tablets

MosquitoI finally found my way down from the Chimanimani mountains near the Mozambique border and was heading to a town called Mutare, when I started getting a fever, chills and a mad headache. The local Doctor told me I had Malaria. I suppose it was to be expected after living in Africa so long. I was hoping I wouldn't get it. I stopped taking my Malaria tablets after a Year of being in Africa as I experienced some side effects and imagine taking prophylactics over a long period of time can't be too good for the body anyway.

Luckily I got to a great hostel in Mutare run by a lovely family called the Bruces, where Anne and Deborah nursed me back to health on a diet of crunchy Chloroquine tablets and hot soup. Cheers you two.  

conclusion

As you can see I really enjoyed Zimbabwe. There really is so much to do there that you'd need at least a few months to see most of the things here. (*2007: Sadly the people of Zimbabwe are being persecuted by the government and there is little or no democracy left here. Great, great shame)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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