Victoria Falls, Bulawayo, Great Zimbabwe and Botswana
Just a note to thank you again for all your advice and bookings for our trip to Zim. We thoroughly enjoyed it, and driving there was a very good decision, thanks to your info regarding the requirements for vehicle entry and use. We were asked (by the police at their numerous stops) for absolutely every item you advised us to have available, giving them no reason to fine us. We did not, however, escape a fine altogether. About 100 km from Beit Bridge we were caught in a speed trap, where there is an inexplicable 60 km/h zone and a hardly visible sign to inform you of the new limit, and my husband was driving at 89. This set us back R200, with a receipt offered, but the money gladly accepted when we did not insist on one. We could not complain about ever feeling harassed by the police, there are just too many of them stopping you . They were very courteously and officially doing their job. Zimbabwe is just such a beautiful country, and the lack of development probably adds to its old world charm.
Arriving in the dark at Bulawayo caused a problem for us, as we could not find Granite Lodge and ended up rather frustrated. The road signs are, like the rest of the town, faded and the GPS did not pick up any signals. After about an hour we eventually managed to find the place. It is a lovely place to stay ( but please could they add a microwave - we could not warm up our food), We could not really enjoy it too much as we were tired from the long trip and in a hurry to get to Vic Falls. We should have given ourselves 2 nights there to explore the surrounding areas and to rest. Passing through Bulawayo in proper daylight on our return trip we could appreciate the town, and its 'time-warp' feeling, as if time stopped in the sixties.
Lokhuthula Lodge is a real gem of a place, giving you the African bush atmosphere, but not lacking anything you could need. The staff was most helpful and very well informed. The proximity of the nearby Safari Lodge and The Boma made having drinks and dining out a pleasure. One could easily spend a week or more there. We ended up doing the zipline over the gorge and planned to do the gorge swing but ran out of time. We were a bit disappointed with the High Tea at Vic Falls Hotel. I think I expected a bit too much, having been to high tea elsewhere and comparing it. However, the view of the bridge and the atmosphere of colonial luxury made up for the lack of glamour of the tea. Of course the falls is everything we expected, and definitely one of the must-do things for everyone who enjoys travelling. The lion walk is unmissable! The dinner cruise was amazing, and the food simple but superbly prepared and presented. We felt like royalty on a trip to Africa.
The low point for us were the curio sellers. They are simply a pain. Compared with the guys at Chobe and at Great Zimbabwe, who gave you an initial fair price and allowed you to make up your mind, they actually chase away potential buyers. I can say that I would avoid them at all cost next time, as even their 'best price' is more than what you would pay elsewhere, including the formal shops in Vic Falls.
Great Zimbabwe is stunning, and really worth a visit, but it left us with a feeling of sadness as we left. What must once have been a busy tourist attraction is now a place where they get very few visitors. The hotel is very old fashioned, and international tourists with high standards, used to 5-star luxury, will find it too basic. I must admit that, after the luxury of the Lodge in Botswana, I was a bit disappointed, but they really did try hard to please and we ended up enjoying it a lot, even though it was the only day on our holiday with bad weather, so no great photos to speak of.
In Kasane we also had a lovely time, totally different from Vic Falls and a true nature experience with elephants, hippo and bird life in abundance. Botswana functions in almost the same way as South Africa. There is a modern Spar and even a small Woolworths! Diesel costs about R9.50 per litre and everything works well.
In short, Zim was a great experience but we should have given ourselves at least 2 more days.