The following are extracts from my travel notebook, whilst on holiday in Southern Africa in 2007. In the first part you can read about my adventures in Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Johannesburg (South Africa) and Kruger Park (South Africa).
Week 1 – Zimbabwe
We set off to London from Malta at 7am. We had some 6 hours wait for our connection flight to Harare, Zimbabwe. We toured around the city of London to kill some time and get some last minute necessities (and not) for our trip. We arrived in Harare at 8.30am, where we then boarded another flight (of an hour or so) to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
We got to the airport of Victoria Falls where we were greeted by our driver of Victoria Falls Backpackers (http://www.victoriafallsbackpackers.com/html/pub/victoriafallsbackpackers.htm), only to find out that the backpacks did not follow us! Not exactly a great way to start off our holiday.
Settled in, and headed off to explore Vic Falls town. On our way there, we were watched by some monkeys and followed by street hawkers trying to sell wooden carved statues. The economic situation of the country hits you straight away, shops were most of them closed, and those that were open had the bear necessities. Supermarkets with empty shelves….children begging on the street…..taxis dating back to the 1950s…..
We booked a sunset boat trip on Zambezi River which turned out to be so much fun. The river was spectacular and so
peaceful. With sunset in the background, we spotted some birds, hippos, crocodiles and elephants whilst sipping down local beer, whisky and all the potent stuff the guides had in their coolers. Following the liquid cruise, we ate some traditional food at Mama Africa Eating house (the only decent restaurant in town) http://www.dingani.com/mafrica.htm or http://www.fodors.com/world/africa-and-middle-east/zambia-and-zimbabwe/victoria-falls/review-438698.html. Back to lodge, and still backpack-less!
We visited Victoria Falls National Park http://www.zimparks.com/html/vicfalls.html. The falls were amazing!! We strolled round the park and photographed the falls from every angle possible. We were lucky (for once!) to spot deers too. There is the possibility to see the falls from Zambia side, but we did not have our passport with us so it was not possible! We then had early dinner at the luxurious Victoria Falls Hotel http://www.victoria-falls-hotels.com/Vicfallshotel_Zimbabwe.asp.
Patience! Patience! Patience!….and you need it in Africa! Everything happens in slow motion!! Our bags were located and on their way to Vic Falls airport. We managed to retrieve our belongings finally and it was time to feel backpackers again 🙂 That evening we booked for the Boma Dinner (approx $ 50 each) http://www.southafrica365.com/tours/3/102. There were many other tourists who joined for the night…it was a pleasant evening, and a fantastic dinner, music and show.
We had originally planned to go to Gweru to spend 2-3 days at the Antelope Park http://www.antelopepark.co.zw/index.html. Thought it was suggested to us to avoid the travelling due to lack of security related to the political situation of the country so we hit town and sorted out tickets to Johannesburg, South Africa. Late evening we landed safely in Johannesburg where we stayed at Emerald Guesthouse http://www.emerald-guesthouse.co.za/ for the night. We had no plan to stay here, given the fact of how much people stress this place is not safe. In fact the next day we booked to go on safari.
The Viva Tours Safari van http://www.vivasafaris.com/ picked us up at around 9am (an hour late). We later stopped at
other hotels to pick up other travellers who were also joining on safari trip. The trip to Kruger Park http://www.krugerpark.co.za/ lasted about 7/8 hours, with amazing scenery and rural villages as we approached the park. We literally dumped our stuff and there we were off to our night safari experience. We boarded the jeep, and managed to spot some giraffes, zebras and deer, and before we knew it, it got completely dark, so after that we only saw animals’ glimmering eyes through tree trunks. Got rather fresh (and scary) so we started heading back, where we had dinner and later a (tentative) rest in our accommodation on the tree-house. It was impossible to sleep that night…we heard animals drinking from the nearby lake, the strong winds, very cold temperature inside the tree house, and some sort of animal/s jumping on the roof of tree house. Yes we were scared!
Quick breakfast, and off to a full day safari, to spot the Big Five. It was a beautiful sunny day. Once we drove inside the park, we spotted giraffes, zebras, different birds and a quick encounter with a family of elephants (big five). Then we saw the buffalos (big five), and then the lions (big five), though we had to use binoculars to see them properly. Then it was the white Rhino (big five)….and the hippos, crocodiles and turtles…..but not the leopard (big five). We drove constantly around the massive park (which by the way is the size of Italy) trying to spot one, but to no avail….we have seen enough in a day! Back to the camp, for dinner and rest.
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