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May 26, 2013 / samwilson60

Into Zimbabwe with a splash

The next morning we awoke surprisingly early considering our antics of the previous evening. Clearly we were excited about the day ahead. Not only were we planning to cross the border into Zimbabwe but we were heading to within earshot, if not sight, of the mighty Victoria Falls.

The border crossing was easy on both sides and jollier than the last. After getting our visas, insurance, road tax, etc. the Zimbabwean customs inspector made some insightful comment about our liking to braai (logs spilling out all over the car) then waved us on our way. We were a little doubtful about his directions as we drove through what looked like to gates to someone’s private land, but slowly we realised that this was indeed the ‘road’ to Vic Falls. It just so happened to be a dirt track alongside the Hwange national park. Driving through the bush into a new country was magical and we had quite the welcome party. Leaving Botswana we’d already seen an elephant crossing the tar road and in Zimbabwe we were greeted by giraffe, warthogs, kudu and our first waterbuck.

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After a 100km or so we hit the tar and our first checkpoint in months. Thankfully it was a soft reintroduction and we were soon on the other side pinching ourselves at being within walking distance of Victoria Falls. We were so excited we almost accepted the vastly overpriced local campsite but had our wits about us enough to check out the backpackers over the road first. There we found camping for a fraction of the price and had lots of interesting fellow travellers to keep us entertained.

It wasn’t until the next morning that we placed the constant rumbling noise – and saw the source of it. We started by walking over the bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia, where we got our first shower and a glimpse of the main falls, then we headed into the rainforest back on the Zim side to get the fuller picture. We walked from one end of the falls to the other, getting wetter by the minute and struggling to wrap our heads around the scale of the place. The spray was so great that we never saw the bottom of the falls and periodically couldn’t even see the top. But when we stood our ground and accepted the inevitability of getting drenched, we were always rewarded as the wind changed direction and the falls reappeared. It was truly incredible!

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That night we had a bit of quiet time over the braai, just the two of us, reflecting on what a landmark this was and what it spelt for the next few months. We discussed at length the distances we still had to cover, the time constraints we were now under and the fact that we should perhaps start considering storing the car in Southern Africa for a bit or shipping it home. We want to make the most of the time we have left and not be rushing and stressing all the way back to Europe, but the plan was always to drive home if we could and that night at least we were feeling optimistic and determined that we still could.

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