Cape Town to Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls

Posted on 30 December 2012

Aaaah, to wake up in Victoria Falls to the sound of the Falls. How wonderful! The music from the nightclub just across from the Victoria Falls Rest Camp that played until 03h00 not so wonderful! Now I know why it was suggested that we stay in their “quieter campsite” on the Zambezi river! But nightclub music versus bumping into a hippo is a safer bet. Besides, I can sleep through anything, especially after an 11 hour drive from Harare!

Poor Trevor has been usurped from the front seat! I now have a good friend with me, so he has been relegated to the back seat. But he seems happy enough (I swear I caught him snoozing) and has been a great distraction for police officers. Everybody softens when they see Trevor and after enquiries about “your baby”, they wave us on. But, so far so good, we have mostly been waved through the roadblocks, with only two out of the six stopping us and asking for my driver’s licence and Temporary Import Permit (TIP).

The three of us left Harare at 06h00 (needless to say an hour later than anticipated!) to start the marathon drive to Victoria Falls. It was a beautiful time of day to be on the road and again, everything is so lush. Clearly a great time to visit Zimbabwe as the rains have just begun and the usually dry bush has soaked it up and flourished.  There were few cars on the road, which made for a fairly speedy and uninterrupted journey. We stopped just outside of Bulawayo at the Falls Road Motors only to be told that there was no unleaded petrol available (apparently unleaded petrol can sometimes be a problem, which I find strange as modern cars use unleaded petrol).  We decided to drive back into the city to a garage that had unleaded petrol as there are few towns along the way from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls, so our chances of finding fuel could be slim. Being stuck on the side of the road in elephant country due to an empty fuel tank was not a scenario we wished to be in!

It was a stroke of luck for a young backpacker from England that we turned back to get fuel. We saw him walking on the side of the road in the heat with his giant backpack and after a debate decided that we would give him a lift if he was still there when we came back along the road. I would never had done that if I was alone, but there were two of us and the young man hardly looked like a serial killer (mind you, nor did Brad Pitt in California!) Sure enough, he was still on the  road and was going to the same destination as us. He had travelled quite extensively through Southern Africa already and it was quite interesting to hear his stories and his views on the various countries and cities.  He’s travelling on his own (brave!) and we were pleased to hear that everyone had been helpful and friendly and he had encountered no problems. Tanzania and Zanzibar came out as a clear favourite so far, but he is still on his way to Cape Town!

We passed by people selling mealies (US$1.40 for two), carrots, bananas and were even offered a live chicken from the side of the road! There were also baboons, vervet monkeys and of course goats, donkeys and herds of cows with their clanging cowbells. We sped past grass huts, acacia trees and people selling stone carvings and clay pots. Just outside Hwange there was a squeal of excitement from me as I spotted the first baobab. My favourite tree and one that always makes me feel like I am truly in Africa. We were clearly nearing The Falls as the weather had turned humid and muggy. It’s going to be a hot few days I am sure! There will probably also be thunderstorms in the evening too!

We finally arrived in Victoria Falls just after 17h00 and got a small glimpse of the Zambezi river at the end of the road. We were also greeted by a billboard saying “100% pure beer” (advert for Windhoek lager) and took it as a sign! Our new friend was hoping to get a spot at Shoestrings Backpackers Lodge so we headed straight there, hopped out the car and had a few Zambezi Lagers (US$2 each) from their well-stocked bar. The weather was perfect for an ice cold one! The backpackers were fully booked in light of the upcoming Vic Falls Carnival, but our he managed to get a camping spot there for a very reasonable US$5 per night. Having quenched our thirst (and celebrated our arrival), we headed down the road to our abode for the next few nights – Victoria Falls Rest Camp.

The campsite is grassed and is under trees which is a good thing! The ablution blocks are large and clean too. We set up camp (well, just put up the tent actually, am hardly equipped for proper camping – we had to borrow a mallet to break up the huge block of ice (US$4) from our very well-equipped neighbours) and then headed to the camp’s restaurant, In-Da-Belly, for supper. Not only does this thatched eating house have a cute and clever name, it serves good (and reasonably priced) meals and has a much-appreciated swimming pool too! I had grilled bream (yay!) and chips (US$12) and it was delicious. The portion size was a little small for me, but then again I do have a good appetite and with my love of bream could’ve eaten a truck load! We had a few more Zambezi Lagers (standard price seems to be US$2) and then took an amble through the town. We acquired our own personal tour guide who showed us a nightclub “where white people go”, called The Croc Bar. We didn’t go inside, but apparently they charge US$5 entrance fee which is refunded in beer! We may have to give it a try one evening! I was treated to an ice-cream cone from Creamy Inn and we headed back to the campsite.

After a refreshing shower it was time to hit the sack. Much rest needed before the party begins! We are off to see the mighty Victoria Falls shortly and will be on the steam train going across the bridge later. I can’t wait! And dear Trevor gets to see one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world today! Best he holds onto his boots and hat….

Follow me on Twitter, @Rachel_CapeTown (#ZimPilgrim), email me at [email protected],  or keep an eye on my blogs on the Getaway website.

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