Travel Through Zimbabwe on a Harley-Davidson

By Peter & Kay Forwood

Zimbabwe on a Harley (30/9/00 - 12/10/00)
Distance 1490 km (201150 km to 202640 km)

This is part of the Seventh section of our around the world trip.
Complete Trip Overview & Map

Coming from  Mozambique or read our previous visit to Zimbabwe
 

30/9/00 Across the border to Zimbabwe and intending to visit this country again we obtained a double entry visa for $US 45.00 and no payment for the motorcycle. Straight away the effects of the British past are evident. Particularly in the neatness and fresh quality paint on the buildings of Mutare where we are staying. The ease of English speaking and friendliness of the Zimbabweans seems in opposition to the conflict the country is now experiencing. Petrol is available at the moment in town although diesel is in short supply. There are virtually no tourists (80% down on a normal time), most choosing to avoid the country for "safer" African destinations.

1/10/00 Kay oscillated between bed and the toilet as her system adjusted to the dietary difference of travel. I read and fiddled with a few minor bike adjustments.

2/10/00 A loop to the Vumba mountains, a fertile section of this country with spectacular views, so everyone says. All we could see was the smoke haze thick in the pre wet season air emanating from Mozambique's slash and burn agriculture. Local whites see our motorcycle with its Australia stickers and come to tell us they are moving to Australia. Two today. And others would like to move to Canada or the U.S.A. With restrictions on how much money they can take out of the country a premium is being paid for US dollar hard currency. We changed with one white farmer at 60 toChimanimani National Park the dollar, only 45 to the dollar on our last visit in March. Still Zimbabwe is only one of many African countries in post independence decline.

3/10/00 Off to Chimanimani, that national park right on the border with Mozambique. A strong MDC area, the opposition party, where a tourist bus of Germans and British was robbed and the driver shot earlier this year ensuring there are still no tourists in this area. High in the mountains the air is cool and the scenery beautiful.

4/10/00 National park fees have dropped from $US 20.00 to $US 5.00 a day and our DBB is just $US 5.00, such is the quiet time. A walking park we headed up the mountain in a steep climb exercising the heart muscle, magnificent limestone formations above the tree line and over the top to the mountain hut overlooking a fertile mountain surrounded valley of grasses and a river. On the way down we exercised our knee joints stepping from boulder to boulder arriving at the bottom stuffed, and realizing how unfit we were at the beginning of the trip. On reading my book "Little Big Man" I think I finally understand the basic difference betweenMountain scenery "white man" and in this case Indians, but could probably relate to any indigenous peoples. "A white man on finding a place that held everything he needed would move in and use it to the hilt. But not a redskin; he restrained himself" only using it to what he needed. Having had no use more than subsistence living, it being better for their environment, having no one to trade goods with they still see no need to fully develop the potential of a situation.

5/10/00 Left the highlands via a twisty road using only the sidewall rubber for the first 100 km to Birchenough Bridge which looked like a mini version of the Sydney coat hanger and was funnily enough designed by the same guy. Then across the hot flat lands to Bulawayo a total of 550 km. The motorcycle ran incredibly hot and burnt enormous amounts of oil probably caused by the petrol here called blend. Goodness knows what is in the "blend" but the motorcycle nor the fuel stove likes it. No peak hour traffic in Bulawayo though as all the cars are tied up in petrol queues, and we arrived on the reserve tank.

6/10/00 Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage was founded in 1973 to care for orphaned native animals. If possible they are returned to the wild else they are cared for for the rest of their lives here. The place also acts as a breeding centre for endangered animals. Many African animals have been cared for and returned to the wild but unfortunately for others, particularly the larger cats that were injured and cannot be returned they live out their lives in a confined area, an animal born in the wild. Perhaps it would have been better that their injuries were fatal. The work done here with the black rhino breeding has been well documented in a television series. Having insufficient fuel to leave town we visited the tourist bureau for advice. But despite four months of this situationSan rock paintings from 2000 years ago nothing has been set up to assist stranded tourists. Luckily we received information that a tanker would be arriving in two hours at a particular petrol station. Word was out however as the queue was already half way around the block despite no petrol being served. By the time fuel arrived it was completely around the block and the so called emergency vehicles, ambulance, security patrols etc. were jumping the queue. For what ever reason we were offered first place at the head of the queue and indeed got the first tank load. Apparently Bulawayo voted for the wrong political party at the last election and seems to be the only place in Zimbabwe without an almost regular supply of fuel.

7/10/00 Left the motorcycle behind and booked a day trip to Matopo National Park. A place steeped in history with San rock paintings from 2000 plus years ago. Those almost asian looking Africans with yellowish looking skin and slit eyes. To Cecil John Rhode's "View of the World" where he asked and received approval to be buried atop one of the highest graniteMotorcycle dwarfed by this baobab tree outcrops of the many in the park. Where for eternity he can look across his country Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe and Zambia). The game park, being too close to civilization cannot support lion and elephant but has over 60 white rhino of which we saw four. But such is Africa that there is no light in the museum because someone stole the solar panels, but the $US 2.00 entrance fee is still charged for the dark room of dim exhibits.

8/10/00 After hundreds of years of Europeans coming to Africa to tell them how to run their continent, starting with Missionaries and ending with the Peace Corp, without them learning on a permanent basis very much you would have thought a different tack would be considered. Perhaps the white western teachers should stay home and have some Africans visit them so they can choose what to take back home from the western society, what their people will understand, what they will accept, and being taught by their own people perhaps they will believe in them more. The Peace Corp volunteers where we are staying have the best intentions but are teaching what they think the Africans should know, perhaps not what the Africans want to learn. Obviously we got into some great discussions on what Africa should do with itself during this trip. Everyone knows how to solve everyone else's problems.

9/10/00 5.30 am start as October is the hottest month in Zimbabwe, before the rains, and a 450 km ride to Victoria Falls. Dead flat straight road but like most of this part of Africa at about 1000m above sea level. The municipal campgrounds in the centre of town still getting loads of overland trucks and the touts outside flogging everything from change money, booze cruise, bungy jumping, rafting to flights over the gorge. Even the baboons here are cheeky. One large maleZambezi River at the Victoria Falls entering our hut to snatch a bag of six bread rolls from the table while I was lying on the bed. The door slightly ajar, my attention only drawn by the rustling of a plastic bag.

10/10/00 Sunrise at the falls, looking down the cataract the sun appeared quite red but dulled by the spray. They say to see the falls visit in the dry, to see their magnitude visit in the wet, the spray can obliterate them. They were great but not as I imagined, the gorge itself interesting dropping over 100 metres to the river bed only to rise again the same on the other side. Outside the Falls National Park, elephants can be seen or buffalo with the humans here being fenced into their lodges rather than the animals behind fences. Occasionally they even wander the edges of town. We strolled the edge of the Zambezi River above the falls in the evening.

11/10/00 Accidents happen everywhere but in Africa they seem to happen more often. A head on collision between two trains near Victoria Falls killed 26 people and injured many more. Many tourists use this night train and an overland driver we were talking to said his next group of passengers were on the train but he could get no information on their condition. This must be the overland truck capital of the world, we counted 12 here yesterday. Mostly short haul Cape Town to Harare, or similar. This seems to be the place to try game meats cheaply. Over the last two days we have had crocodile, wart hog and kudu, ostrich was also available.

12/10/00 Another early start trying to keep away from the heat.
 

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