Back to heaven for just 30 minutes today. Just enough time for internet and ice cream! Then out of Lusaka, a 3 hour drive towards the border of Zimbabwe.
It was only brief, but goodbye Zambia (for now – I will return in a few days!). Just a quick stamp and we were off driving 1km through no mans land above Lake Kariba.
Lake Kariba is the third largest artificial lake in the world, 220km long and containing 200 billion tons of water) It was formed as a reservoir as a result of the Kariba dam on the Zambezi river. The lake borders both Zambia and Zimbabwe. To cross into Zimbabwe we had to drive across the top of the dam – it was pretty spectacular. But sadly, again, no photos allowed.
Country number 5 – Zimbabwe
When I told people I was going to Africa for a few weeks, most people questioned going to Zimbabwe. In 2008 the economy collapsed and 4000 people also died from cholera. However, recently the economy has stabilised (since dollarisation).
It’s another expensive country to get into (especially for English people, at $70) but this time, a visa sticker – at least it seems like you’re paying for something! Another long 2 hour wait at the border, we were having trouble getting the truck in for some reason.
Tonight, we are camping above the shores of Lake Kariba, before we head off on houseboats tomorrow.
My chore-groups turn to cook dinner tonight so sadly missed out on the swimming pool!
Monday 16 January 2012
A lie in this morning, although I don’t think many people managed to sleep past 7.30am – you get used to being up so early all the time!
Packed a small bag for a few days on the houseboat and off for a short 10 minute drive along a scary steep road that the truck could only just about navigate!
Our houseboat home for the next 3 days – MV Shikra. It’s huge! Each room has 4 beds and an ensuite bathroom. We’re sharing 3 in my room, but everyone else is just 2. So lots of space! Quite exciting to have a real bed too!
Upstairs, is all open – there is a large dining room, lounge area, then outdoor seating area with jacuzzi! All the sides of the boat are open – with tarps that can be pulled down. Lucky it’s a hot sunny day then!
Just before lunch, we were off sailing! Unfortunately, our new neighbours (the numerous hippopotamus and crocodiles) rule out any diving of this particular lake!! There wouldn’t be a lot to see anyway.
We sailed into deep water, where apparently neither the hippos or the crocs like to hang out and were told it’s a good idea to jump into the water from the roof!! The roof is the third ‘floor’ of the boat and about 10meters high. I was pretty scared – it looked a long way down – the boys did the count down and by the time you ran to the edge, it was a bit late and just had to jump! It was just as scary the second time!!
We moored up against an island and at 4pm went out on the tender boat for some animal spotting! Not a lot to see as we’re not in the national park area tonight, but still some crocodiles and eagles, followed by the best sunset all trip! The edges of the water are scattered with dead tree branches sticking up – making good perches for the birds. These are a result of the flooding of the lake in the early 1960s.
Dinner was at 7pm and was cooked for us – amazing! Then party time! We made a small dance floor using torches on the ‘flashing setting’ (some white, some red!) and hung them from the roof. Pretty good idea!! Good night all round!
Tuesday 17 January 2012
Another boat day. Rudely woken at 6am (bearing in mind we had passed out about 2am) by the boat being cleaned. The floor are all made of steel sheets, so quite a noisy affair.
It started raining about 7am. Yesterday had been the hottest, sunniest day so far, bit of a shame – today was going to be another sit in the sun, jump off the boat, go for a swim, do nothing, sit in the sun, go for a swim etc routine.
Luckily just after breakfast, it started to brighten up and we ‘set sail’ towards Matusadona National Park. This park contains some endangered black rhinos although sadly we didn’t see any.
We did see a lot of other things though;
– families of elephant, with cute babies running alongside;
– hippos everywhere – some yawning up close, a tiny baby and mother walking on the land.
– where the boat was moored, there was a hippo grazing on the grass. Some of us were stupid enough to get off the boat and walk up a small hill about 20 meters from where it was. Apparently they can run pretty fast, so I didn’t stay long!
– another pretty sunset over the hippo waters;
– forests of sunken tree branches;
– some more crocodiles lurking in the water.
The number of flies are unbelievable. Just millions and millions. I don’t know where they come from. The white floor is black, covered in them. The small lights on the boat attract them in swarms, you can’t breathe or move for flies! They’re mostly not biting ones, just annoying ones.
As we are spending the night in the national park, no party allowed tonight, probably just as well as we were all exhausted!
Just as we were headed to bed, there was a lot of gurgling water. About 7 meters outside our room, a huge hippo!! It came out onto the land and grazed for a while before plopping back into the water.
Wednesday 18 January 2012
Last morning on the boat and up early for a morning game cruise at 6am.
We watched the sunrise over the water, just infront of us a pod of 20 hippo. After a bit more sailing around, we stopped just off the shore where a couple of large male elephants were grazing. There was also a large herd of impala. They must have been excited about something as they were bounding around across the grass – cute! We got a lot closer to the animals today.
After a pancake breakfast, we set sail again to head back to the mainland. We stopped off in the deep water for a spot of jumping and swimming (no matter how many times I jump from the boat, it’s still just as scary!)
After lunch on the boat, we sadly arrived back on solid land. Boat life over. We popped into a supermarket on our way back – they had icecream! Since the introduction of the dollar, only notes are available and nothing smaller than $1 notes, therefore if your shopping doesn’t come out to a round dollar (and when does that ever happen!) you are given some of your change in sweets and pens! Pretty funny!
Back to the Kariba lakeside campsite and our driver had already set out our tents for us – so sweet and such a nice welcome back!! So straight into the swimming pool to cool off!
We spent the rest of the afternoon in, yes the bar. We chatted to the bar man about the introduction of the dollar in September 2009. He had a stack of old Zimbabwean dollar notes – some being billion and one a ten trillion note! He said prices of groceries would change twice per day and people would go to the shops with wheelbarrows filled with notes just to be able to purchase a few essentials. (some of the notes he had were for just 500 dollars – not a lot compared with a 10 billion dollar note!). The rate of inflation was reported to be seven sextillion percent. He also explained that when the decision to move to US dollar was made, people were given 3 days notice. Any money in bank accounts was frozen (and they are still trying to get this back) and only if you had a 25 trillion note (the largest printed) could you trade that in for the equivalent of US$10.