Zimbabwe, Homo Erectus, Boskopoid, Khoi-Khoi, Hottentot, Gokomere, Bushman |
Harare, Masvingo, Great Enclosure, Mutirikwe Gorge |
Hwange, Hwange Nat.Park |
Victoria Falls, Botako Gorg, Zambezi |
Botswana, Chobe |
Lupane, Bulawayo, Powangwe cave |
** Click Images to enlarge **
Our trip started in Harare the capital of Zimbabwe and began with an unexpected surprise that Dutch visitors, since 1-12-98, have to pay USD 30,00 for a visa. Harare is a modern uninspiring city and the next day we traveled via Kweko and Gweru to Masvingo, the very nice situated Great Zimbabwe lodge close to the Great Zimbabwe National Monument. In the 11th century came the first society to occupy the great Zimbabwe site. The construction of their first project, the royal enclosure on the hill complex commenced sometime during the 13th century. Despite the beauty of the ruins, the remains do not provide evidence of superior architectural skills and it seems that only a sketchy overall plan was devised before work began. At its height, Great Zimbabwe was a thriving city of at least 10,000 inhabitants. You don't expect such big stone city in the dark of Africa.
The way from Masvingo to Bulawayo is nice but from Bulawayo to Hwange is a long monotonous trip over the highlands, with very tame scenery. Many kilometers with nothing more then lined Eucalyptus or Fir trees without any interruption is really dull. These fast growing trees are economically a success but contaminate the landscape. Our destination is the Hwange Safari Lodge set on the main road into Hwange National Park. The patio overlooks the hotel's private pan where assorted locals lumbering up for a drink. Kudu, Elands, Impala's, Waterbucks, Giraffes and Zebras are common, and Elephants and Buffaloes visit occasionally, we had luck to see an Elephant. Very early in the morning we have made a game drive through this beautiful park, but because the grasses stands very high we saw not so much animals. January is the African summer and raining time, and not the best time for successful game drive.
From Hwange we travelled to Victoria Falls were we stayed in Elephant Hills Hotel. The world-famous Victoria Falls, 1708 meters wide, drops between 90 and 107 meters into the Zambezi Gorge. An average of 550,000 cubic meters of water plummet over the edge every minute, but during the flood stage, up to five million cubic meters per minute pas over the falls. This is what film manufactures had in mind when they dreaming big, many many kilometers of film and videotape are gobbled through cameras every year here.
Although it's a long way from the kitsch curio shops, traditional dance shows, reptile parks, adrenaline sports, buzzing and low-flying aircraft and zebra-striped tour buses all nurture the carnivalesque tourist jungle that has sprouted and taken root in the city.
Fortunately, the star attraction - Victoria Falls itself - is safely cordoned off by a real jungle of its own creation. To walk along the paths through the spray-generated rainforest that flank the gorge, you'd never suspect the existence of anything other than the monumental waterfall that's giving you a good soaking. Its really an experience to see, feel and hear the thundering water surrounded by a tropical jungle full of birds, mosquitos and monkeys , Mosi oa Tunya smoke that thunders called by the Makalolo people. One of the most dramatic is Cataract View, the westernmost point, which requires climbing a steep stairway. Another track is aptly named Danger Point, where terraces of soaking and slippery moss-covered rocks and a sheer and unfenced 100-metre drop-off conspire to rattle your nerve as you approach the stunning and frightening view into the First Zambezi Gorge. From Danger Point you can follow a side track for a view over the gracefully precarious Zambezi Bridge which connects Zimbabwe with Zambia. Before setting off for the falls, spend a minute thinking about water and the effects it will have on your camera equipment and other valuables. You can get a one day permit for a walk over the old Zambezi bridge (1905) and see 100 meters below in the Botako Gorge the roaring Zambezi river with some little people in rafts working very hard to remain inside. On the bridge hundreds locals with goods are waiting for transport and if you are lucky a train with a very old steaming locomotive.
We planned a one day Safari in Botswana. A morning river cruise and an afternoon 4WD safari in the Chobe National Park which was perfect organized firstname.lastname@example.org. Very early in the morning they picked us up for a fast and quick drive through Zambesi Nat. Park to the Botswana border where a 4 WD was waiting to bring us to a small riverboat. The small boats are preferable to the larger ones because they accommodate smaller groups and can move in for goods views of the animals without alarming or endangering them. The Chobe river flowing on the border of Botswana and Namibia and have a beautiful interesting riverfront where massive Elephants destroying the bush or take a bath in the river between couples of Hippo's, Crocodiles which are protecting their babies, Zebra's and many different antelopes. The variety and abundance of bird life in this zone of permanent water is remarkable. After a very good lunch we started with our afternoon game drive in the Chobe game park. As far as wildlife is concerned, the Chobe Riverfront is the park's most densely inhabited area, and here, it may seem the word "wildlife" is synonymous with "Elephant". We saw herds of up to 400 Elephants which is really a exciting view. The Botswana government bans hunting in the hope that the pressure on the riverfront vegetation would decrease the elephants, but the population is still booming. Also Lions, Buffalo's, Giraffes and a great variety of antelopes are walking around. Except the Rhinoceros we have seen the Big Five during this five hours afternoon game drive.
On the way back to Bulawayo we visited in Lupane a kraal (a fortified family village of round African style huts) with Rondavels by family Ngwenya to have a small talk and to see how they are living. Only the oldest daughter is going to school and speaks a little bit English, for the other children is no money available. A problem is that children needs school uniforms and that is expensive. Very friendly people which are proud showing you their livestock, maize, chicken and a goat. Some money or a present is highly appreciated.
In Bulawayo we stayed in Holiday Inn hotel from where we visited Matobo National Park. Bulawayo (the killing place) was once head-quarter of the Matabele King Lobengula.
You need not be in tune with any alternative wavelength to sense that the Matobo Hills are one of the world's playing places of the children from deity's. Thousand-tonne building blocks, stacking precariously into fanciful castles and towering imaginary cities, populating with stone-faced human figures. Its no wonder that it is called a spiritual capital. Close to these balancing stones is a memorial for Rhodes and Shangani Memorial of the Matabele war from 1893.
From Bulawayo we traveled via Gwanda to Beitbridge. Where we leave Zimbabwe for our trip through South Africa. The scenery in this area is more various and interesting. To cross the border to South Africa is a chaotic happening and you need a lot of humor and patience. An exchange-office is unknown, and the whole border looks like a prison with everywhere electrified barbed wire. If it is not too hot, it is a good idea to walk the long new Beitbridge into South Africa.
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