Monday, June 9, 2008

South Africa by Truck: Cape Town, Swakopmund, Etosha and Chobe National Park, Harare (Week 4)

Day 21: Victoria Falls - Bungi jump

This morning, before we left Chobe Safari Lodge, we took a group picture. Actually we asked two Dutch tourists to do that for us. So they had the privilege to take about 25 pictures with different cameras. Victoria Falls was not far away. In a few hours drive we arrived there and drove straight to the campsite, which was located in the center of the town. This was very convenient because everything was close by. The first thing to do was to change some money and, not to forget, signing up for the Bungi jump en White Water Rafting trip. The time was 11:00 o'clock and the Bungi jump was going to take place at about 15:00 o'clock. See the following link for a more detailed report of the Bungi Jump After my jump I stood around watching the others jumping down the bridge. I was surprised about the ease everybody jumped down, without hesitation. The longer you wait to jump down, the harder it gets. After everybody enriched her/himself with this exciting experience we walked back to the city. That evening we had diner in the Cattleman restaurant where the Bungi jumpers were sharing their experiences with the rest of the group. Some of the non-jumpers jumped down the bridge as well at Sunday.

Day 22: Victoria Falls - White water Rafting

Rafting day, lunch break. Today it was going to be another exciting day. We were going for a White water Rafting trip on the Zambezi river. It is called White water because of the color the water turns into when it gets wild. So maybe Wild water Rafting is a better description. Today I was more nervous than before the Bungi jump the day earlier, because I realized it is far more dangerous. See the following link for a more detailed description of this White water Rafting trip. After this exciting rafting trip we went back to the campsite in Victoria Falls, where we took a shower and had took some rest. In the evening we went back to Shearwater place where they showed a video of the today's rafting trip on a big video wall. The video turned out to be very spectacular. After buying some pictures of the rafting trip we had some diner.

Day 23: Victoria Falls - Victoria Falls National Park

For today no dangerous, exciting, wild, money swallowing activities were planned. First thing to do was to sleep 'late' till 07:00 o'clock. It gets very warm quickly in a small tent so it is impossible to sleep late. First I did some shopping and after that I went to the Victoria Fall National park to have a look at the Victoria Falls. Along the way I crossed a railway where I saw an old steam locomotive come by, which are still used regular. Close by the Victoria Falls the temperature drops down to a comfortable level. The falls itself were very impressive. It was possible to have a look at the falls from numerous places. Because this time of year it was 'low water' the falls could become even bigger and more impressive. I also came across a statue of the explorer / discoverer of the Victoria Falls, David Livingstone. From a certain place in this park you had a view of the Victoria Falls bridge, the same bridge I jumped from (picture of bridge). I knew that some of my group were going to jump today so I watched the people jumping down from this place. After a while I went back to the campsite. Together with other groupmembers we went for a drink at the Victoria Falls hotel, a ramain from the British colonial era.

Day 24: Zimbabwe - Bulawayo

Before we left Victoria Falls we did some shopping for food. I quickly bought some souvenirs like a painted ostrich egg and a carving. At 09:00 o'clock we left Victoria Falls and at 16:00 o'clock we arrived at Bulawayo. I was sitting in front of the truck and was talking to Arno, the Dutch driver. He was telling me about last year when he got a speeding ticket. At the same moment we were stopped by the police. They told us we ignored a red traffic light, so Arno got another ticket. I think this was the first traffic light after we left Cape Town. The campsite was located somewhere in the middle of the town. There was nothing much to do in town that evening so we stayed at the campsite that evening.

Day 25: Bulawayo - Matopos Hills park

At 08:45 we were picked up by two Landrovers for a tour and game drive in the Matopos Hills park. Matopos Hill NP is known of its big population of white and black rhino's. Matopos Hills, the lizard man.In the past years a lot of them were killed by poachers. After the government introduced a new law in the park the poaching seems to be stopped. The new law was: "everybody who looks like a poacher can be shot at once without question". The first part of the trip we got a tour through a part of the park where we saw some rock paintings. On a hill there was the grave of Cecil John Rhodes. This man was the founder of the country Rhodesia, which is now renamed to Zimbabwe. A rhino in Matapos HillsAn attraction on that hill was the local guard. This old man had the gift to attract hundreds of lizards by simply calling them. We continued our tour with a game drive looking for rhino's. When they managed to find one we were allowed in groups of ten people to get outside the car to get as close by as possible to the animal. The rhino's are not very dangerous as long as they are not running straight to you. After this game drive we were taken back to our campsite in Bulawayo. In the evening we went out for diner in the town, not far away from the campsite. In the restaurant called 'Morgans' we met another Guerba group. That evening we had a very nice and pleasant diner.

Day 26: Great Zimbabwe ruins

Our destination of today was the Great Zimbabwe National Monument near the city The 'Great Zimbabwe' ruins.Masvingo, a distance of about 300 kilometers from Bulawayo. Along the way we stopped at a pound, a place where animals like lions, leopards, rhino's, cheetah's etc. are taken care of. Most of the time these animals are found hurt or left alone by the mother. After this visit we continued our journey to the Great Zimbabwe ruins. These are the remains of an ancient city made of stone build by the local inhabitants, the Shona. After we arrived there we walked around the place and climbed a hill, where the Shona also have build. Before sunset we went down the hill to have diner at the truck.

Day 27: Mopani Park Farm

Before we left the Great Zimbabwe NM we did some shopping at the local people along the road. Here it was possible to buy all kinds of stone sculptures. We drove northwards to our next campsite which was located at the Mopani Park farm. Adjacent to the campsite there is a small lake with many birds which looks more like a swamp. Also there are three crocodiles present in the lake so you had to be careful when walking around the lake. We did some reading at the swimmingpool at the farm. In the evening we got some diner served up. We ate meat from an Eland antelope which tasted very good. The rest of the evening we were sitting together and had a pleasant chat.

Day 28: Harare

In the early morning I had a walk around the lake. I thought about the warning of the crocodiles so I looked out very carefully. It was a very relaxing place to be and there were a lot of beautiful birds around and I think I saw a stork (ooievaar in Dutch). Anyway, I didn't see any babies. After we did some driving we came closer and closer to Harare. You could see very clearly we came close to a more developed area. We entered the city of Harare were we went straight to the Oasis hotel which was the starting point of the next Guerba trip. We did some shopping down town Harare before we went to our last campsite of this holiday just outside the city called Coronation Campsite. In the evening we went to the city by taxi to have our farewell diner. This took place in a nice restaurant with live music together with African dancers. It was a very enjoyable evening and a very nice end of this holiday.

Day 29: Harare to Amsterdam

Today it was going to be the last day of the holiday in Southern Africa. So, pack up day. In the morning at the campsite we had to take out all our things from the truck and put those back into the same bags you started this holiday with. In the end I managed to put everything back. All the tents were collected to be cleaned so at least we didn't need to do that. After everybody finished packing we drove to the Oasis hotel in Harare where we could store our luggage for the day. Our plains were leaving in the afternoon so we had still some time left to visit Harare. With a part of the remaining group we had lunch in an outdoor cafe somewhere in the city. After lunch we walked back to the hotel where we sat down in the garden. We played some pool biljart till it got time to leave to go to the airport. It was getting dark already, not because I was getting late but because of the clouds. At the moment we left the hotel it started to rain very hard. The taxi driver told us it had not been raining here since march of the same year. This was a nice end of our holiday in Africa. Time to leave. After a two hour wait in the departure hall of the small airport we finally were allowed to board. Ten hours later we arrived in London Gatwick airport were I had a connecting flight to Amsterdam.

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