Zimbabwe Trip

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Nov 22nd, 2002, 04:14 AM
  #1
Joey
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Zimbabwe Trip

Hi all:
First of all, I would like to thank all of those who have been so generous with travel information over the past several months.
Secondly, I would like to continue the sharing. So what follows is an account of our trip to Zimbabwe November 8 - 18.
My wife and I left with approximately 75 others from Columbia, South Caronlia, USA. We landed in Atlanta and then were off to London overnight. After about 10 hours in London, we again left overnight on Air Zimbabwe for Harare, Zimbabwe. We arrived early in the morning, and spent the balance of the day resting from the travel.
The next day, we again flew Air Zimbabwe to Victoria Falls. We were then transferred to the A'Zambezi River Lodge. While we were there, we took a helicopter ride over the Falls, took a sundowner cruise, and went to the traditional village to watch traditional dancing. There I ate impala, warthog, and a caterpillar.
The next day, we toured the Falls itself, and then went by bus to Hwange Safari Lodge. We went on a safari drive that evening and one early the next morning (not nearly enough for me). We saw elephants, a gorgeous male lion, buffalo, zebra, giraffes, and numerous birds. This was great for a taste, but my wife and I plan to go to Botswana in June for a more extensive safari holiday.
That evening we went back to Victoria Falls and did alot of shopping at the craft market. Then back to Harare.
The next day, we took a three hour bus tour to Mutare, where we stayed at the Holiday Inn.
We were in Mutare for all or part of 4 days. While we were there, we went shopping in town, went on tour of the Eastern Highlands (if you go, you have to go to Tony's Coffee and Dessert Shop), and we went to Africa University. Africa University was the real focus of our trip. It is the only United Methodist supported institution of higher learning on the continent of Africa. By the way, I am a United Methodist pastor.
Mutare is off the tourist trail and was a refreshing contrast to Victoria Falls.
Then we drove 3 hours back to Harare, and spent 20 hours in flight on three different aircraft. I'm still recovering from the jet lag!!
We had a GREAT time. I realize that this message is scant on details, but it would take 10 times this amount of space to fill in the blanks. Therefore, if anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me or post to this message.
Joey
 
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Nov 22nd, 2002, 04:40 AM
  #2
kavey
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Joey
Glad your trip was a success and everything went well.
Was this your first trip to Africa?
Kind Regards
Kavey
 
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Nov 22nd, 2002, 07:13 AM
  #3
Joey
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Hi Kavey:
Yes, it was my first trip, but hopefully not my last. As I indicated, we hope to go to Botswana in June. We are using Bert from Fish Eagle Safaris. The plan is to go to Dumatau, Xigera, and Little Mombo. Can't wait!!!
Joey
 
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Nov 22nd, 2002, 08:00 AM
  #4
Heather
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Thanks so much for your report!

It sounds like you spent a lot of time around Victoria Falls. How much time do you think is appropriate to see both sides of the falls? And what was the sundowner cruise?

Did you utilize a tour company on this trip?
 
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Nov 22nd, 2002, 08:16 AM
  #5
kavey
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I am planning my second trip to Botswana and Namibia now for 2004...

If you want to stay at Mombo you generally need an 18 month lead time, unless you're very lucky, as it books up FAR in advance.

I may already be pushing it to book for June 2004.

I have heard excellent things about Duma Tau and Xigera.

Infact Duma Tau is on my current list and Xigera was on the list until we opted for Jacana - both are very popular and it was really a toss up between them.

Kavey
 
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Nov 22nd, 2002, 02:35 PM
  #6
Joey
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To Kavey:
As I understand it, the deposit we made was to hold our reservations at Mombo. I would be interested in reading any comments you have based on your research of Xigera and Dumatau.

To Heather:
We didn't spend more than a day around the falls. We just crammed alot in. We didn't see the falls from the Zambian side, except by air by helicopter. However, I would think one day would be plenty for just the falls. If you wanted to raft, bunjee jump, take a helicopter ride, and go to the craft markets, perhaps you might want to allow 2 days. But I wouldn't think you would need anymore than that.
A sundowner cruise is a cruise down the Zambezi River, complete with beverages, which culminates at sundown, with a spectacular view, weather permitting. We didn't see much wildlife but the cruise was relaxing. Oh yes, by the way, for my taste we could have skipped the traditional dancing. It was just too "touristy", and I usually like "touristy".
Since we went with a big group, our arrangements were made by someone else. However, I think a tour company was involved - HTc. I don't remember if I got the name right. If I did though, I would recommend them.
 
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Nov 22nd, 2002, 02:43 PM
  #7
Joey
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Heather:
Sorry, I did a little checking and the tour company was UTc.
Joey
 
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Nov 27th, 2002, 07:41 AM
  #8
tony
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Zimbabwe is - or at least was - one of the lovliest countries in Africa - a climate second to non, unique attractions, wonderful people etc . However is amazes me that in todays' Zimbabwe a visitor (and a man of the cloth no less) can travel through the country with nary a word nor evidently a worry or concern for the plight of its people and economy under the mad ravings of its dictator. 20 odd years ago the world was up in arms (and sanctions) against the same country for its "white racist" regime - and the church's were very active in opposing and fighting the regime. Today, now that its "black on black" violence (genocide ?) not a word, not an action.
Lovely country - pity about its people !
But who really cares in the end. Glad the university is still functioning - but for how long ?

+++
 
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Nov 27th, 2002, 08:58 AM
  #9
Joey
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Tony:
You asked "Who cares in the end anyway?"
I do. I care deeply. In fact, I almost cancelled our trip due to the wide-spread suffering I heard about.
And I did see suffering. But I also saw joy - a joy that is not present in the United States.
Mugabe is a thug. But the only way I know to register my disgust is to boycott the country, and how does that help the ones that are suffering. Many jobs depend on tourism.
Africa University is not only fuctioning, but thriving despite the economic and political climate. In fact, the University has spoken out against the president.
 
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Dec 2nd, 2002, 02:19 PM
  #10
tony
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Joey - Thanks for the answer. My message partly because your report made no mention of the political situation - which is always a factor wherever one travels , but it was more a protest about the Western worlds' (and the various churchs') extremely mild if not almost total lack of reaction to the situation there. My point was - when that actions are drastic , strong and swift when there are certain types of oppression going on , but when it is "black on black" oppression everyone remains very quiet and mute - or as in the case of Rwanda/Burundi a few years ago = totally negligent. Where are all the protests, raising of funds for the opposition etc as was the case against the old Rhodesia or more recently apartheid-era South Africa ? Nowhere to be seen. And in the interim those "lovely people" are suffering and desperate. Thus my comment - but who really cares ? If anyone does, there is very little evidence of it here in the hypocritical West !!

++=
 
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Dec 26th, 2002, 07:41 AM
  #11
Rudy
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I am not seeking to lay a guilt trip on anyone or to be self-righteous about this, but I would discourage any tourist from going to Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe's most desparate need right now is foreign currency, and every dollar or pound or Euro brought into that country helps prop up his corrupt and brutal regime. In the long run, and in the larger view, your foreign currency hurts the Zimbabwean people. Robert Mugabe is committing genocide. There is now no hope for a democratic change, since Mugabe has changed existing laws; has the military, police, and paramilitary forces totally under his control; and is terrorizing, arresting, and in a number of cases murdering members of the opposition party. He is also allowing only people with ZANU (his party) cards to receive the food which has been donated by charitable organizations to counteract the impending famine. One can only hope that somehow when the country runs out of foreign currency and the infrastructure totally breaks down, the people will rise up against him and drive him out of power without too much bloodshed. Providing foreign currency is just helping him to stay in power.
 
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Dec 27th, 2002, 08:59 AM
  #12
h chadwick
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Very interersting thread! I would love to visit Zimbabwe some day but will not until Mugabe is out. I could not agree more that condeming Mugabe is much less fashionable than previous boycott movements. I do want to see Vic Falls though so I will have to stay on the Zambian side. I hate to condemn others but I will not give 1 dollar to that mans regime. Is the trip still woth it (staying on the Zambian side)?

Thanks All!

HC
 
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Dec 28th, 2002, 04:40 AM
  #13
Carina
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My husband and I were in Vic Falls Dec 19. We were supposed to stay 3 days but left after 1. It was just too difficult. Mugabe closed the foreign exchanges 01 Dec (we left Canada 23 Nov so we did not know). This left the choices of getting foreign exchage to the banks or the black market.

The banks were offering ZIM 55 for USD 1.00. The black market exchange was as high as Zim 1000.00 for USD 1.00. A postcard cost ZIM 400.00 so if you did your exchange legally it would be almost usd 8.00 for the postcard. Travellers checks are useless. You need small bills in usd unless you want to brave the black market. Most spots accepted usd cash .The Victoria Falls park only takes foreign currency. They prefer usd but will take rand.

We were approached constantly by guys on the street wanting to exchange money or sell stuff. the crowd would follow you wherever you went. Even at the Kingdom (Casino hotel) the staff at the doors wanted to change your money.

We had a fantastic conversation with a few people on our only evening there. One was a staunch Mugabe supporter, 1 had his eyes half open and the other was afraid to voice his opinion in front of the other two.

I agree that the situation is horrible there and is getting worse. The cars are parked at the gas station and the line was miles long. they actually got petrol the day we were there but ran out again after 6 hours.

I do not want to support Mugabe any more than anyone else but I am not sure if not travelling is the answer. If the locals can't get there hands on the USD to buy on the black market (food and petrol), they will be in a worse state (if that is possible).

In saying that we were not prepared. Had minimal usd cash and I was not prepared to risk prision on black market exchange. I do want to see Zimbabwe. I want to travel to the Matabos Hills and Great Zimbabwe. I will wait.


 
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Dec 28th, 2002, 08:16 AM
  #14
Rudy
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It is a beautiful country, and as the original poster stated, much of its real beauty and charm is off the tourist track. I taught for a number of years at Mt. Selinda in the eastern highlands,and would recommend both Mutare and the Chipinge area.Most Zimbabweans are warm and welcoming people. They do not deserve the ruthless regime which they presently suffer under. But as callous as this sounds, Mugabe and his henchmen will not be overthrown until the suffering reaches such a point that these basically peaceful people take matters into their own hands to overthrow them. As much as I would like to see Zimbabwe again, I do not want one dollar of my money helping foster Mugabe's rule.
 
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Dec 31st, 2002, 11:35 AM
  #15
lisa Waverley
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For H Cahdwick. We stayed on the Zambian side but found we were going back and forth so much that it was more of a pain. Perhaps if we had flown into Livingstone instead of Victoria Falls we could have cut back on a couple of treks through the border. Unfortunately, those flights did not tie in with our schedule. The border crossings are a real pain, not to mention how they fleece you for visas.
Having gone 5 years ago and then again in Aug 02, I could see a huge difference in our experiences. the second visit was not altogether pleasant. And that is before you even start on the conditions and the situation there. I don't think I would recommend going now.

 
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Jan 1st, 2003, 01:59 PM
  #16
Dreamer
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I to want to include a trip to the Falls in my trip.

Lisa, How was the view of the Falls from the Zambian side? Did you feel safe on the Zambian side? Do you think one could have a nice trip with out going to the Zimbabwe side?
Thanks
 
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Jan 1st, 2003, 02:38 PM
  #17
evelyntrav
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The flow of the falls depends on the season. We visited both sides last June. The Zambian side was awesome, however, the Zim side was so covered with mist that we could not see anything. Did you do a search on Victoria Falls as there had been a lot of discussion about visiting this area? I hesitate repeating what has already been said. I'll look for the site and top it for you.
 
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Jan 6th, 2003, 06:45 AM
  #18
Lisa Waverley
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The view from the Zambian side is also magnificent. You get different perspectives and vistas from both sides. The interesting thing about the Victoria Falls is unlike Niagara falls, you do not get a total view of the entire falls from any one vantage point, so it is really an exploration mission. At each turn you you get a different view.

We felt very safe on the Zambian side (except when the bus dropping off our group went through a tent site and an elephant was meandering through the camp site. One of our genius friends, decided he had to get off the bus to photograph the elephant(after listening to 4 days of warnings about the perils of getting to close to an elephant) and the elephant and decided to charge him and the bus.)

We did cross over to the Zim side to go on the elephant ride and to view the falls. In addition we flew into and out of Zim. If you can just do one crossover, that would be better. We did the sundowner cruise on the Zambian side

We stayed at the Zambian River Sun which was very nice but very expensive. Food and service was outstanding there. The Livingstone Sun is even more spectacular and expensive. It was featured in a recent Architectural Digest.
 
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Jan 6th, 2003, 07:07 PM
  #19
Santosh Prabhu
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My wife & I are planning to visit Vic. Falls in 2 weeks time. We will be there for 2-3 days. Is it safe to travel to this place now? Or would it be better to skip it?
 
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Jan 7th, 2003, 07:53 AM
  #20
Rudy
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I've expressed myself in two previous postings about why I don't think travellers should go there, so I won't belabor that. However, these are some practical matters that you may want to consider. There is a *severe* petrol shortage in the country at the present time, and if your plans are dependent upon using petrol-fueled vehicles, you may have some problems. Also, inflation is out of control, and the Mugabe government has frozen the value of the Zimbabwe dollar. It is worth only a fraction of the official rate. Things, therefore will be quite expensive. You will be tempted to exchange your foreign currency with an individual at the black market rate. Don't. You don't want to be arrested. The police are totally corrupt and the legal system is breaking down. Also, because of the foreign currency shortage, needed medical supplies are not being imported and are in very short supply. Don't get sick and end up in a hospital while you are there. If you want to get an idea of what is happening in that country, since details don't appear in most western newspapers, I would suggest you check the usenet newsgroup
 
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