Travel Through Zimbabwe on a Harley-Davidson

By Peter & Kay Forwood

Zimbabwe on a Harley (24/3/00 - 31/3/00)
Distance 1470 km (184150 km to 185620 km)

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

Coming from  Mozambique

24/3/00 The border crossing into Zimbabwe efficient with visas obtained on the spot at $US 30.00 each. No payment for the motorcycle. The carnet again making crossing free of fees and insurance with the misbelieve that the insurance is included in the carnet. Moving up the scale again a wealthier country with many western trimmings. Back to road signs, almost no potholes, mown road edges, supermarkets, fenced and broad acre not subsistence farms. Still almost no traffic with the fuel shortage. We managed to buy 7 litres just over the border and another 12 just out of Harare. In the capital there were queues but only about a 20 minute wait. The horror stories again exaggerations.

25/3/00 Harare, a large spread out organized city. It is supposedly going backwards by all accounts of the locals and media but we could see new construction and industry. Miles ahead of anywhere we have been in three months. We visited some ancient rock paintings at Domboshawa, an area believed to have been inhabited for thousands of years. the unusual granite rock formations of the area interesting in themselves. We also visited the national art gallery (suffering from a lack of funds) but still with some interesting traditional exhibits from all over Africa.

26/3/00 The government here seems to be trying to hold the currency at present levels despite theTengenenge, free sculpturing from stone market demanding a devaluation causing a very hidden black market. There are no open street exchange people but the forex change bureaux will give a higher rate than advertised (without receipt) and backyard boys at the back of small shops are offering 15% above bank rates. This is the most clandestine black market we have encountered. No one is offering, you have to hunt it out and then they want to know who referred you. With the election coming, the fuel crisis and farm invasions of white owned farms by land hungry war veterans, hard currency is gaining popularity. At Tengenenge, one mans dream, on a property 150 km from Harare in the middle of nowhere lie 20,000 stone sculptures by hundreds of artists and beginners from all over Southern Africa. The discovery of black serpentine rock in the area and the open house approach of Tom Blomefield, welcoming all to sculpt, created some masterpieces, some now shipped all over the world. Just walking through the grassy scrubland with carved and polished statues atop wooden poles or placed on the ground is amazing. Many sculptors were at their work chipping away, some as small as the two, hand sized, hippopotamus thatOverlooking Greater Zimbabwe Monument we bought, up to and larger than life sized human depictions of African life.

27/3/00 I had lost "The Bible", the travellers affectionate name for Lonely Planet books. With all its highlighted entries of where we intend visiting in Zimbabwe and South Africa. With all the highlighted places we had already visited in Southern Africa. With etched in recommended hotels and great spots to visit swapped by others we met along the way. With its dog eared corners showing we were out there for a long time. Our plans for the day shattered without map or directions or even what to do. We roamed the streets looking for a virgin copy to start all over again but awaiting us back at our hotel borrowed by an unfortunate without a "Bible", ours was awaiting our return.

28/3/00 With reportedly only 2% of the population, despite 20 years of black government, the white community has a disproportionate share of the wealthGreat Zimbabwe National Monument, built about the 12th century here. Half the flashier cars on the road are driven by whites. Our hostel is white owned as was the shopping centre we visited and the Lake Chivero bird gardens where 100 speed boats are stored awaiting their, we only saw white, owners to party. Despite this there seems to be respect on both sides although most menial tasks are done by blacks and management by whites. Perhaps 20 years is insufficient time to change a 200 year white dominated history and still keep the economy buoyant. The bird gardens, with birds mainly from Africa, set next to the lake to incorporate the wetland species, revealed most of the birds we have been fleetingly seeing in the wild. The majority of the raptors here are injured wild birds and many geese can fly freely.

29/3/00 The road got us today. We had planned to visit a mining museum at Kwe Kwe and a private game reserve for a horse ride with the animals but the road was so good, the weather exceptional on the Zimbabwe plateau (1000m) and we sailed on to Masvingo 450 km.

30/3/00 Great ZimbabweRoadside police looking to supplement their meagre salary National Monument. The place that gives the country its name (great stone houses). The greatest stone structure south of the Pyramids. Built and occupied during the 12th to 15th centuries and being the capital of the Shona empire from Botswana to Mozambique they traded gold and ivory for silk and beads with the Arabs. The largest and most beautiful structure in the complex is a circular wall 255m long, 11m high and 5m thick at the base. This mortar less wall of granite is still almost entirely intact. Walking around it you can see the improvement in construction technique and quality of the tool making to face and position the stones from the starting of construction to its completion. It's believed 11,000 people once lived in the valley.

31/3/00 650 km, a border crossing and a couple of detours because bridges here have been swept away during recent flooding. Left Zimbabwe to return in October, managed to change left over Zimbabwe dollars to US dollars at a bank at the official rate thus making a profit. An odd system. As a parting gesture they charged for the motorcycle $US 3.45 bridge toll (trucks $US 20.00), not even a flash bridge, to cross into South Africa.

Move with us to South Africa , or go to our next visit to  Zimbabwe .




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