My Travels in Zimbabwe
Arriving in Zimbabwe is a very unique experience; I flew into Bulawayo airport and being from Johannesburg I’m used to tall buildings and lots of activity which Bulawayo doesn’t have a lot of. The airport was small and the only sign of the town was one tall building in the distance and the rest of the view was gorgeous African bush.
Meeting the Johnstone family just puts you at ease; when you arrive the feeling of confusion and being nervous hits straight away but the Johnstone’s make you feel welcome and like you are visiting old friends again. Peter Johnstone, or as the we volunteers like to call him Mr J, will almost certainly joke around with you the first time you meet him. However, in my case, being a conservation student meant I received jokes as well as many surprise pop quizzes on the African bush!
I was fortunate enough to tag along on a trip to Victoria Falls with Chris and Sam (an American volunteer that has graduated from Zoology).
It started off as a job to drop two guests at the airport in Victoria Falls and once we had heard this we tried to make any reason to go with and it eventually lead to success. The drive to Victoria Falls wasn’t the most comfortable as Sam and I being above six foot had to squeeze in the back but it was all worth it to go to such a magical place. The drive took 4 hours but time flies when you have the beautiful views of Zimbabwe rushing by.
One of the other experiences you will have driving through Zimbabwe is going through road blocks which seem to drive every Zimbabwean crazy including Chris who was our driver. The one rule to always remember with these road blocks is to just smile and wave.
Victoria Falls is a very small town and everything centres on the falls, we checked in to a dormitory style room and then explored for the rest of the day. We went to visit the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge as well as the Victoria Falls Hotel which were both amazing to see and the view from the Victoria Falls hotel is spectacular and includes a view of the bridge and the mist rising from the falls.
We visited the big tree which is the oldest Baobab in Zimbabwe and it was massive taking several people to circle its base. At the time of my visit it was dry season for the Victoria Falls so although there wasn’t a lot of water coming over, the Falls were still magnificent and you cannot imagine the thundering the water makes and how the mist shoots meters into the air from the amount of pressure coming over.
After the falls we arranged to go to Hwange National Park to try and find as many of the big five as possible, much to the joy of Sam as it was a new experience for him. The Park has many beautiful views but we drove around for a while not seeing anything when finally at our 4th water hole we got a lone elephant bull having a morning drink. We sat and watched him for at least thirty minutes because no matter how many times you have seen elephants you will always be awestruck when they are around. The rest of our day consisted of cooking lunch at one of the picnic spots (called Ngweshle and pictured below) and trying to leave the Park before it was too late as we still had to return to Cawston. Sadly the elephant was the only big 5 animal we saw on the day.
Traveling in Zimbabwe is an experience itself before you even arrive at your destination. If you ever get the chance to go to Zimbabwe I would implore you to try and travel as much as possible as you learn a lot and see so much of Zimbabwe that you wouldn’t read about or see in pictures.