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June 5, 2013 / samwilson60

Bring on the fun stuff

We started what felt like a new stage in the trip with plans to meet Ben and Jen again at South Luangwa national park. We had the best part of a week to get to our rendezvous and were cautious about the latest gearbox repairs so settled for a short first drive out of Harare and camped on the grounds of the Chinhoyi Caves.

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The caves were small but spectacular. The first was so dark we missed a turn in the steps down and nearly ended up rock-climbing our way to the bottom, which would no doubt have ended badly. Thankfully we realised this was a bit extreme, even for Zim (a country that lets you walk around game parks unguided), and true enough there were fully functional steps to our right. We reached the opening to the second cave in one piece and knew there was supposed to be a big pool at the bottom, but it still took a good few minutes to realise we weren’t staring at a reflection on the back wall but at the surface of the water itself.

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The final set of caves was lit but just as treacherous – the lights themselves didn’t inspire confidence and even if they held out, we’d already been given every reason to believe the electricity supply wouldn’t. As we wound our way around lots of chambers and tunnels with nothing but a pair of dodgy lighters between us we started to realise why these places normally insist on guides, but we had great fun winging it, we met some owls and we escaped unscathed.

From the caves we continued north to Lake Kariba. We’d assumed we’d camp south of Kariba town but were put off by the price tag and relative lack of view at the campsite we’d had recommended. We also wanted some internet if possible (someone overlooked a bill in Switzerland it seems) so decided basing ourselves in town could be quite handy after all. There were no signs of internet cafes and most of the hotels were derelict but we found a cracking campsite atop a hill overlooking the lake (just before overshooting Kariba and ending up at Zambian immigration). Not only was it in business still, it also had lots of cheap firewood (the bundles got bigger the more you bought), the perfect clothes washing sinks and a nice track to walk/run along down to the water. The fruits falling from the trees all around us were more than a little hazardous but not the size of coconuts or sausage fruits so we counted ourselves lucky and stayed for two nights. On our off day we went into town, dodging the urban zebras as we went to see if we could find internet. The hotel we tried was a dead loss – it didn’t even have a roof – but the ladies at the harbour café came to the rescue.  They started listing places we could try for wi-fi but as soon as Sam asked to buy some homemade ginger nuts for the road one of them offered us her dongles (plural) instead. So we went nowhere, got online there and then and treated ourselves to lunch AND ginger nuts. Result!

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