Down Memory Lane In Zimbabwe/Zambian
I’ve been on the road travelling for 6 weeks now and its been the most liberating thing. I’ve meet amazing and very friendly people along the way, who have helped me understand how things work in their countries.
21st of February at 10 a.m.
I crossed the border from Mozambique, Chimoio into Zimbabwe, Mutare. I got held up for about an hour at the Zimbabwe border the officially wanted to ensure that I wasn’t about to start working illegally during my stay in their country. Which was lawful and understandable considering the overall condition of the country. Besides, I assured them, I am on vacation; I have zero to no intention of doing any form of work besides exploring the beautiful sceneries and chilling with all of my fly and pretty self. So, after an hour of conversation and them instructing me on what I should and shouldn't do in their county, we reached an agreement and I was on my way.
I took a taxi from the border to Mutare, a small town in Zimbabwe for R65 ($5) and met a guy by the name of Keith in the taxi, who happened to be heading the same direction as me. He told me that there are two ways of getting to Harare; you can either take the bus or hitchhike. Honestly, I was a bit apprehensive about hitchhiking because I’ve never done it before and in South Africa it is known for being unsafe. But he then assured me that it was actually the safest form of travel there. One thing I noticed about traveling in Zimbabwe is how difficult it is. This is because the taxi drops you off at the bus station where there is a lot of competition amongst the bus conductors. When you arrive there by yourself, 7 guys will come and start talking to you all at once, trying to convince you to take their bus. Most of these men are intoxicated, they will grab you and can even steal your belongings. If you’re a single female traveling solo, you have to be extra careful because you don’t know the ins and outs of the place you visit. So, take caution and take the best and safest way no matter how costly it may be. It is better to be safe than sorry.
And so it was that after waiting for an hour at the hitchhiking spot, we managed to find a car going to Harare. It cost about R1000 ($80), because they want you to pay the same amount you would pay for the bus. The trip took 5 hours, with police stopping us every 30 min which made the travel time even longer. But we eventually arrived in Harare in the afternoon and my host was already waiting for me in town. I stayed in Harare for a week and a half, but the unfortunate part is that I didn’t get to do much because of the under-estimated financial cost which threw me back a bit. Like the challenge of getting cash from the ARM and so forth. However, I made the most of my stay by enjoying the time I got to spend with friends I hadn’t seen in a very long time. Which is what I went to Harare for in the first place.
On the 1st of March
I took a bus from Harare to Bulawayo for R250 ($20). In Bulawayo I stayed with friends; this helped me to keep my costs low. Things are expensive in Zimbabwe and I found I was spending a lot of money on food than I’ve ever done before. For example, a pack of 30 eggs cost R85 ($6.50) which is double the amount we pay in South Africa. One of the most expensive things for me was the cost of data; I spent over R1500 ($120) for the 4 weeks I was there. Shuuuuu!
Despite the economical challenges of Zimbabwe, the country has some of the most kind-hearted people I’ve ever met. I felt more at home and like I belonged than I did in other countries. I didn’t get to do lots of activities, because I was trying to keep my costs at a low. I still have over 10 other countries I need to travel to this year so I cannot be wasteful in my spending. However, I did visit the European-style Nesbitt Castle, which was really beautiful. The eccentric owner built the castle in the 1920s; inspired by the castles he had visited overseas but using local stone. Today the owners have turned it into a boutique hotel, restaurant and pub, surrounded by lush gardens and a pony park. Colonial paraphernalia and gothic curiosities adorn the winding, mysterious passages and provide for a fascinating visit. The Coach House Restaurant and Dragon’s Den Pub don’t require a booking, but I think afternoon tea is the best way to do justice to this fanciful place ( it’s best to phone or email beforehand). The castle is a popular venue for weddings so Saturdays are likely to be busy.
After spending time with my friends in Bulawayo, it was time to be on the road again. On the 17th of March I took an Intercape bus from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls for R350 ($27,11). The drive was long with no stop for food, by the time I got to the Victoria Falls I was starving. The Victoria Falls/ Livingstone border closes at 10 p.m. and I was hoping to cross that same night, but we got there late. I was not prepared financially because I didn’t think we would get there after the border had closed, so I only had R65 ($5) cash on me for a taxi. That night I had to book at the Victoria Falls Backpackers. They charged R270 ($21) per night for a 3 bed dorm and they also charge $3 for their Wi-Fi each day. I was not impressed with the fact that they didn’t have a card machine, but they allowed me to sleep and pay the following day.
After spending time with my friends in Bulawayo, it was time to be on the road again. So, i took an bus from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls for R350 ($27,11). The drive was long with no stop for food, by the time I got to the Victoria Falls I was starving. The Victoria Falls/ Livingstone border closes at 10 p.m. and I was hoping to cross that same night, but we got there late. I was not prepared financially because I didn’t think we would get there after the border had closed, so I only had R65 ($5) cash on me for a taxi. That night I had to book at the Victoria Falls Backpackers. They charged R270 ($21) per night for a 3 bed dorm and they also charge $3 for their Wi-Fi each day. I was not impressed with the fact that they didn’t have a card machine, but they allowed me to sleep and pay the following day.
The following day I got money from an ATM, not realising that I can’t use the Zimbabwean Dollar in Zambia, because they don’t recognize it as money. At 8am on the 18th I crossed the border to Livingstone, Zambia. I met a guy at the border who helped me with my bags and paid for my taxi.😀 He also helped me to exchange my Zimbabwean Dollars. Yes, the pleasures of being a beautiful woman. In Livingstone I stayed at the Livingstone Backpackers and I paid R155 ($12) per night. I stayed at this place for 6 days.
I had planned on doing a few activities like Bungee Jumping and a visit to the devils pool, but by the time I crossed that border from Zimbabwe I was extremely low on funds. The only thing I could afford was to visit the Victoria Falls from the Zambia side and it cost R450 ($35). I know, right. But it’s a beautiful and great way to spend your day. The place I stayed at had free Wi-Fi, which I used to catch up on my work on days I didn’t have anything planned. I visited some of the restaurants around and went to the Roman Catholic cathedral on Sunday to worship with them.
On the 24th March
I took the overnight bus from Livingstone Zambia, to Windhoek Namibia for R600 ($47). Traveling through Zimbabwe and Zambia was a big eye opener for me with regards to money management. I learned lots of lessons, which I believe I would not have learned at home. So, if you have any plans of traveling to Zimbabwe any time soon, be smarter than me, and do your homework to avoid any overspending and financial throwback. Again, better be prepared than sorry.
Country: #3 Zimbabwe and Zambia
Accommodation: R1355 ($105.22) Note the low accommodation cost is due to the fact that I stayed with people I know.
Travel Cost: R2400 ($187) traveling from 2 countries
Activities: R450 ($35)
Total: R4205 ($328) I actually spent close to R6000 ($467) due to the high food and data cost, and also having to fix my tablet.