Has anyone been in Zimbabwe lately?

Aug 4th, 2005, 05:23 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 330
Hi James, Thanks for the clarification but how very strange. It still makes me think Foster is back-pedalling and maybe shouldn't have said what he said. Which I am certain that he said. Not that it matters now, what matters is that Wilderness is keeping the Makalolos and their presence in Zimbabwe. Good news.
Lin is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 08:37 PM
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Hi all,

Brand new member here who is beginning to plan my first trip to Africa. I have been reading and reading all your posts and think this forum is great and I feel like I know some of you already from your "conversations". You are all so passionate about your love for Africa and are even polite when you argue. Unusual for a chat forum.
So that makes me dangerously comfortable to jump in here with my newbie 2 cents on this thread. (It may turn out to be my "4" cents as I may get on a roll )
I think if you want to see Zimbabwe and they are offering you a good "product", then by all means go to Zim. But for those of you who say they are going or have gone to "help" the locals who work in the tourist industry feed their families, I think you are very short sighted and not REALLY helping. Sure it is a feel-good thing and there is nothing wrong with doing what makes you feel good at the time but as the old adage says....give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
By going to Zim for a few days on safari to help these people keep their jobs, you are simply "giving them a fish". The only way to help them learn to fish is to help them change their government or help them leave their country.
Contrary to very popular belief, Zimbabwe (and most of Africa) DOES NOT have an economic problem. They have a political problem that manifests itself as an economic problem. With some exceptions, Africa has tremendous resources (natural and otherwise) upon which to grow an economy capable of being totally self-supporting given the right leadership.
Zimbabwe is cursed with a poor leader right now.
Unfortunately for the people of Zimbabwe, it is obviously going to have to get worse for them before it gets better. At some point it will boil over and the opportunity for change will be there, but it must come from within if it is to come and you are not helping that change come as long as you continue to go there.
Someone mentioned the relative prosperity of Botswana as if they don't need/deserve the help as much as Zimbabwe. Think of how they did that. They don't have anything extra special that Zim doesn't have to give them an econmic advantage except intelligent, honest leaders. They are putting out a "better product" (i.e. safety, infrastructure, etc) and they are getting rewarded for it.
It is simple,natural, economics.
You buy the better product and everyone is encouraged to put out better products.
Think of it like the car business when they brought out the Yugo in the US, did you say, "I am going to buy a Yugo because it is a crap car and if I don't buy one, the workers might lose their jobs." No, you went and bought the better product and natural selection economics took over. Yugo went out of business and those people had hardship for some time but then they went to find other jobs somehow. That is the way it HAS to work, in my opinion.
Again, if you really want to see Zim, go. But don't kid yourself about what you are doing. If you want to really improve Zim and Africa in the long run, simply buy the best "product" and let nature take it's course. You have all seen this happen on your safaris, the weak or dumb get killed and when you watch that, you feel bad for those individuals.... but it is way things work.
The bad (dumb, corrupt, weak) countries will have to either get new leaders or be taken over by better countries. Only then will the lives of their citizens really improve.
Feel free to convince me I am wrong.

eric3 is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 09:47 PM
Join Date: May 2005
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Hi Eric

I don't want you to think that we went to Zim only to support the locals - I feel that is just the positive outcome of going to Vic Falls and staying on the Zim side where you see the most of the falls - believe me the view was brilliant! I just have a problem with people from other countries who were so shocked and upset with us for doing so. We were not there to support the political scene, and certainly do not endorse it. However we got a great value holiday because of their desperation to attract the tourist dollar, and the people were so grateful and welcoming. We certainly do not feel that we encouraged the government by turning up, but I do believe that the people were encouraged to see tourists still arriving in their country.

Shearwater is still operating, and we did our activities without crowds - only 8 in our group for the elly ride, and just the two of us for both the jetboat ride and the helicopter ride. We prebooked on the internet and got a great package deal with a 10% discount for prebooking. We were transported to and from each activity, and they were willing to change times etc to fit in with our transfers as required.

Our main goal for our holiday was to see as much, and experience as much as we could. It was an amazing eye opener to see the country as it really is (not just as portrayed in the news), and we know the people appreciated tourists to help them survive.

Both places that we stayed in Zim - Vic Falls Safari Lodge and Matetsi were both quite full, thanks to special deals they are offering.

I still would not be game to travel further afield at this stage, but felt very well looked after while we were there. Certainly do not plan to self-drive - petrol is not available to most people, but tour operators do still have supplies that they can use.

We started in Zimbabwe and then went to Botswana which was spectacular too.

This was not a 'feel good' option - in fact it was quite sad, but that is part of the African experience. I think just to do the expensive safari camps, without the people contact that we had would have led us to miss a lot in our trip.

We decided to go to Zim on the recommendation of a friend and certainly do not regret it. However I have had to justify this decision often!!
caroleo is offline  
Aug 5th, 2005, 08:46 AM
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Welcome, Eric! It's always a delight to hear from someone planning a first trip to Africa. It sounds to me like you're informed about more than the wildlife and ecology of the continent. I appreciate your thoughtful comments, especially the insight that Africa's economic problems are at root political. I couldn't agree more.

Last week our local PBS station showed a program (the series is called, I think, "Wide Angle") about the effects of the situation in Zim on neighboring Botswana. Lots of illegal border crossings by people looking for work, including highly educated people doing jobs like housecleaning, because of the deterioration in Zim. The Botswana authorities are overwhelmed by the magnitude of it.
Celia is offline  
Nov 16th, 2005, 11:38 AM
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Returned from Zambabwe last month.Flew into Victoria Falls and then another flight to the Mana Pools where we canoed on the Zambezi for the next three days.It's amazing to make sure you missed the Hippos, reach and almost touch the elephants and so much more. Returned to Vic Falls for two days before heading home. We weren't in any major cities. Felt safe on the whole trip. Would do it again.
PeterB123 is offline  
Nov 16th, 2005, 03:21 PM
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hi, i posted this link about hwange park some days ago. i was just wondering if anyone has visited hwange.give some insight on what is going on in that park. thanks, david

tuskerdave is offline  
Nov 16th, 2005, 03:35 PM
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I enjoyed reading your replies to "cooncat". All of you seem to have made honest replies from your own viewpoints. I agree with those who have traveled there recently and stayed in hotels, camps etc. The few locals who are employed desperately need any money they earn, and the craftspeople are doing their best to make and sell what they can, just to feed their families.
The situation in that once beautiful country is desperate and mainly political. I do feel that every little help we can give to the population (not the government) will boost their will to survive.
My brother and sister-in-law lived in Zimbabwe for ten years. They ran a non-profit organization to help the residents learn woodworking, building school desks and schools and teachers' homes. They watched this once prosperous, educated and industrious county begin to fall apart about six years ago.
They loved living there and were proud of the men and women building their schools and educating their children. The country also had one of the best medical systems on the continent and no one seemed to be hungry. The game parks were full of animals and waterholes kept full, even in the dry months. I'm not saying that this was a paradise, but compared to what it is now it may have been.
My husband and I visited in 1999 when most of the problems hadn't yet started. Then again in 2001 where we say the beginnings of the problems, especially fuel and food shortages. My brother and sister-in-law finally and sadly moved away last January. They hope to be able to return someday, but are not hopeful.
Natural disasters do a lot of damage to countries, but willful, evil dictators do a lot more!
Anyone who want to visit the Hwange and Vic Falls area while it is still safe enough, should go ahead....just take care. We all hope for better days for this beautiful country. - Joan
treasuresofafrica is offline  
Nov 17th, 2005, 05:01 AM
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I guess I missed this particular thread over the summer when I was without computer access. I am going to put in my two cents at this point as we went to Zimbabwe in June 2005. Stayed in Victoria Falls for 2 days and my only regret was that we didn't stay longer. Actually, I can't say that was the only one - I also regreted that we had to keep our luggage under a certain weight to head into the Okavanga Delta and therefor I couldn't buy many of the lovely carvings and art work that people were selling.

Prior to our trip, DH started worrying about the safety in Vic Falls and so we checked with our travel agent in Cape Town to see if we should try to change our itinerary. She recommended that we still go and she was absolutely right. The people we met were some of the warmest anywhere and so eager to help us out. There was an earlier posting about feeling nervous walking through the craft area in Vic Falls. I (sort of accidentally) solved that problem as a young man attached himself to me as a guide (I was trying to find something quick to eat and he knew right where to go). From that point on, I was not hassled since he had "claimed me". Sounds strange now - but I had a wonderful time talking with him and he was able to help me find some lunch for myself and DH so that we could get going on our elephant ride. We NEVER changed our money into Zim dollars (they actually wouldn't let us) and tipped in US dollars everywhere - putting it directly into the person's hand. So I like to think that they got to keep it. I know it is very much a controversy about whether or not to go, but my reaction was that they individual people there are desperate for people to come to their country. In fact, many of them asked us to spread the word when we got back that Vic Falls was a safe place to come and that they needed the tourists to come back. So, I am doing just that. You will see so much more of the Falls and have a wonderful time. We stayed at Ilala Lodge and even walked down the street at night to get to Mama Africa (I believe Roccco was the one who recommended that particular restaurant - whoever it was didn't steer us wrong!). Go and have a good time.
jcasale is offline  
Nov 17th, 2005, 02:44 PM
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I spent 4 nights at Makalolo Plains in Hwange National Park this past September. All I can say about it is it was absolutely AWESOME! The lodge was wonderful, the people wonderful, and the animal sightings were AMAZING! I would highly recommend Hwange National Park and hope to go back there again someday. I also spent two nights in Vic Falls, and like the previous poster my only regret was that we didn't stay longer. I was in Zimbabwe for a total of 10 days, and never felt unsafe - I would go back in a heartbeat!
beept is offline  
Nov 17th, 2005, 02:44 PM
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hi, this all pretty good. was wondering though and trying to find out about some info on HWANGE PARK. from anyone who has visited there during any of these trips mentioned. my first safari was to zimbabwe in OCT 1999.that NOV there was bad news coming out of there. slowly but surely.
a couple of posts back i posted up a link to a story on HWANGE PARK. can anyone add more detail or confirm what is going on in HWANGE PARK?
thanks, david
tuskerdave is offline  
Nov 17th, 2005, 03:18 PM
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bee, hi i didn't see your post for some reason thx. ok, if you could. take a look at the article link i posted. i found it by accident. does the story make sense?
is it BS? i'm asking because hwange was my first africa park. just curious also.i want to go back. to be honest, it has nothing to do with being safe or not.
kinda affraid of what i might see. reading about heavy poaching & bad droughts. that kind of thing. next yr is out, so it would have to be the following yr.
thx again.
tuskerdave is offline  
Nov 19th, 2005, 08:02 AM
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I would say go back to HWANGE. I did not see any signs or here about any poaching in the park while I was there. Drought is a problem, but I definetly did not see any animals dieing of thirst. Wilderness Safaris is doing an excellent job pumping water into the area to keep the pans filled. This does cost money however - so if people stop going to the lodges in Hwange, they will soon run out of money to keep the water pumping, and the animals will die of thirst. I stayed at Makalolo Plains, and it was full during my stay there - so this is a good sign. I had a terific time there and saw lots of amazing and healthy wildlife.
beept is offline  
Nov 19th, 2005, 08:42 AM
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hi bee, please bear with me i'm finding articles about HWANGE that doesn't look too good. the good news is. all i have found, they are trying to do what they can to help problem (drought). these stories i am finding are brand new.could things have gotten that bad since you were there?
thanks for your time.
ps, i am booked for next yr. but i will get over there in 07. http://allafrica.com/stories/200511180335.html
tuskerdave is offline  
Nov 19th, 2005, 12:12 PM
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hi dave,
let me throw in my 2 cents. i visited makololo back in jan of this yr and found their is a major discrepany between areas that are being taken care of by wilderness safaris and teh public parts of teh park. all the southeast area of the park have pumps being run by wilderness safaris and therefore large amounts of animals are congregating there and thriving. the public parts of the park are not being visited by many tourist and therefore cannot afford to keep the pumps running. my guess is that your article is describing areas of teh park not close to the wilderness concessions. hence why myself and others visting have seen great wildife but stories about dying animals are also occurring. i would return to makololo in a heartbeat; they game is up to par witha lot of botswana wilderness lodges. and hopefully if tourism picks up wilderness can take over more areas and get many more water pumps up and running. and in terms of poaching, in teh wilderness concessions there were no signs while we were there. tehy are traversing the areas daily and im sure thats keeping the poaching down. bottomline, you wont be disappointed if you visit wilderness lodges in zim.
bigcountry is offline  
Nov 19th, 2005, 12:26 PM
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hi bigc, thx. i really liked hwange all those eles. the place is so huge. we only spent 3nts there.next time longer stay
but ya know, reading these stories. it seems a big die off is in the making. like what started to happen in tsavo with the huge heards and bad drought. then the poachers took care of the rest.until there were only about 5000 eles left in all of tsavo.
thx for letting me bug you people.
tuskerdave is offline  
Nov 19th, 2005, 12:36 PM
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oh big c, one more thing.the guide we had craig van zyl, worked for wilderness back in oct99.
cheers, d
tuskerdave is offline  
Nov 19th, 2005, 05:50 PM
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the large herds of eles are still there. i saw far more at makololo in jan than i saw at kings pool in sept. and they like to drink from the pool so the encounters are extremely intimate.
bigcountry is offline  
Nov 20th, 2005, 02:30 PM
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hi, thx for all the info. will post more as i find it.
tuskerdave is offline  
Nov 28th, 2005, 02:52 PM
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hi bigcountry, thought i should insert this here. another member started a thread about this hwange article. thanks, david

tuskerdave is offline  
Nov 28th, 2005, 03:17 PM
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thx, david

tuskerdave is offline  
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