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Old 9 Aug 2010
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A Quick few notes on Zimbabwe, May 2010

For the full story of our travels, you’re welcome to have a look at the Blog on www.pictureafrica.org or http://africapicture.blogspot.com/. The purpose of this thread is to mention the places we stayed in Zimbabwe, how much we paid and how we found it. I’ll also mention the annoyances of the country to hopefully prepare future travellers a little better.

We entered Zimbabwe through Beitbridge which can only be described as chaotic at best. We were asked for as many bribes on either side of the fence and were irritated by an equal amount of touts on either side. Our advice is to do it yourself as the officials are clearly irritated by the touts and are a lot easier to deal with once they realize that you do not use them.

We stayed at the Lion and Elephant for R50 a night for the two of us. The cam site is basic, but cheap and has security. They also have an excellent butchery. For any meat they do not have, the butchery in Bubi town is also excellent and both have very reasonable prices.

Our next stop was Gonarezhou. Park entry fees are $15 pp and $5 per vehicle and are valid for 7 days. Camping differs in price, but was $12 pp for the camp we stayed at. The validity of the entry fee means that the longer you stay in the park, the cheaper it becomes per day. Gonarezhou however can not be accused of being over grazed and although the campsite is really nice with good facilities, the only thing to see is the bottom of the cliffs which is about a two hour drive from camp. We stayed for two nights and felt that we saw all there was to see.

We next headed to the Vumba and the well known Tony’s Coffee and Chocolate House. This had moved from the original spot next to the Botanical gardens and with the move came a price hike that is beyond belief! We were charged $28 for two coffees and two slices of cake. I’m sorry to say that I can not recommend Tony’s any longer! In addition to that, the only camping in the Vumba is at the Botanical gardens and because it is a national park, it would have cost us $55 for one night of camping. We stayed at a place called Seldomseen for $40 for a stone cottage with en suite bathroom, fire place and a mountain of fire wood. Their normal rate is $25 per person.

At the great Zimbabwe Ruins we were the only campers in the camp site. Once again you pay an entry fee, vehicle fee and camping fee which makes it pricey. $45 for our one night. We did however do a guided tour of the ruins for $6 for the two of us. That was well worth it as our guide; Linda was an archaeology student with a massive amount of knowledge on the place.

Matopos was our next destination and an utter waste of time and money. The camp site was in a terrible state and there was little to no game. To top it all off, the Zim government in their infinite wisdom have decided to hand over world’s view and Cecil John Rhode’s grave to another department who now charges an additional $10 per person to see it. So, to enter the park, camp in it and see the sights would cost $75 for two people for one night. I hope the world boycotts that ridiculous excuse for a national park until they understand their stupidity. Not that I have any strong feelings about it.

Hwange NP was a great big disappointment as well. We stayed at main Camp which was nice enough. The platform closest to camp was quite good, but the animals were very scares and very skittish. We also stayed at Cinamatella which was in a terrible state and there were honestly not even birds in the area. We heard some Elephants, saw three hippos in a nearby dam, but that was it. We drove out via Robin Camp which was in an even sadder state of disrepair. The three nights and $125 for the two of us could have been spent a hell of a lot better somewhere else. We were told that it is a different story in the height of the dry season, but I’m not convinced.

At Vic Falls we stayed at the camp site closest to the falls at $10pp and $8 for the car. Falls were $20pp entry and in the wet season you can’t really see much of anything because of the spray. I think a flight over the falls in that season will be amazing and the view form the Zambia side would be better.

We took the Vic Falls/Binga road to Kariba stopping over night at the Masumu Lodge just outside of Binga. This must be the best kept secret in Zimbabwe. They have no website, no phone number and no internet connection. It is an absolutely idyllic place which charges $10pp to camp. T4A has it listed.

Mana Pools was well worth the five nights we stayed there as well as the cost of the park. We still paid the old rates of $15pp to camp, but even at the new $20 for a camp site removed from the river is acceptable. Unfortunately we were witness to some blatant corruption and bribery involving the camp staff, so make sure you know exactly what you need to pay and what you get for your money.

Fuel was no problem at all and cheaper than South Africa. The secret is to take plenty of US$. Even through you can pay in Rands, they change at R10 per $. The countries’ idea of broadband is 10% as fast as a dial up used to be, so don’t bother trying to go online. The markets are cheap for vegetables and fruit, but no one seems to transport their produce out of the region it is grown in. The lesson here is to stock up when you see good quality things. By and large it is a pleasant country with desperate people but we never felt threatened in any way. It was however a lot more expensive than what we though it would be as the $ dictates the prices. Spar is a total and utter rip off and best avoided.
Dawie du Plessis
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Old 21 Aug 2010
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At Great Zimbabwe there's cheaper camping available down the road. Can't remember the name of the place, but it's next to the lake. They also have rooms. I agree about the guides at the ruins though, very knowledgable and great value for money.

At Hwange the best campsite imho is a small one next to a dam. Think it's called Masuma. There's a large shelter where you can sit and watch the resident crocs and hippos, and we also saw elephants, various antelope and baboons in the area. Godfrey, the ranger who looks after the place, is also a great guy full of information and stories and as he's on his own a lot of the time he's keen to chat. Facilities are basic but clean and tidy.

Also heard a story that crazy Bob is sending an 'ark' with 2 of every animal found in the park to his buddies in N Korea. Not sure how true this is, but would also explain the animals nervousness if people are out there rounding them up.

I agree that paying in US$ is the way to go, but don't waste time and money organising this in advance. Barclay's bank has branches in all major towns and cities and you can get US$ direct from the atm with your visa debit card. That's right, direct from the atm, so no commissions to pay and no dodgy exchange rates. All atms seemed to be reliable when I was there in April this year.

Last edited by misterpaul; 23 Aug 2010 at 21:12. Reason: forgot some stuff
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Old 23 Aug 2010
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What is the situation with bush camping or camping in villages?
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Old 23 Aug 2010
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Didn't try wild camping - places we went were too populated. Camping in villages is possible but you will be the centre of attention.

Not sure what the situation is right now, but in April we were hearing about upcoming food shortages in rural areas due to crops failing in the drought.

Finding fruit and veg along the road or at street markets in towns was no problem in April, but supermarkets had very limited stocks. Worth stocking up on dry goods in Bots / SA for sure.
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