Trip Start Jul 24, 2006
19Trip End Oct 28, 2006
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
It was very difficult to leave our little backpackers' paradise on the shores of Lake Malawi, with its fantastic food and beautiful setting, but we finally made it out of Nkhata Bay and on to the next destination. We took the overnight bus down to Blantyre, arrived at 6 in the morning, and hopped on the 7am bus to Harare. It was a pretty painless bus ride, and arrived more or less on time, which is always a pleasant surprise, despite 2 border crossings (once into Mozambique, and then into Zimbabwe).
There were only three other tourists on the bus with us and had met very few other travelers along the way that had gone through Zimbabwe, so we were rather surprised when we got to the guesthouse to find it full
For a country in crisis, Harare showed virtually no signs of it. The streets were filled with people in suits going to work, there were hardly any homeless or beggars loitering in the parks, and the city's skyscrapers were still sparkling. The only giveaway were the long lines at the banks as people waited to withdraw money...something that we had not seen anywhere else in Africa so far. In fact, people are not officially allowed to have more than 100,000 Zim dollars on them because the bank has had a terrible time with people hording money. Since the government refuses to let the currency float, the Zim dollar is way overvalued - the official exchange rate to the dollar is 250 Zim to 1 US, whereas the real rate is more like 700 Zim to 1 US
As I said, apart from having to exchange money on the parallel market and the occasional shortages at restaurants of various items, as a tourist you would hardly know that there was a crisis. We spent two days at a Lodge just outside of town that has an adjacent game reserve where we could walk out by ourselves among the zebra, elands, and bucks. After a bit of R&R at the lodge, my cousin Anthony came to pick us up and we spent two days with him in and around Harare, having a wonderful time exploring the city and catching up
In fact, many of the parks around the country have suffered from the economic crisis. Not only are their far fewer tourists, but poaching for food and firewood by surrounding villagers has increased, reducing the flora and fauna of these parks.
After having a high tea at Meikles, a last Lion beer with Anthony, and a failed attempt to make it to Lake Kariba, we left for Bulawayo.