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June 5, 2013 / samwilson60

Great Zimbabwe

Leaving Vic Falls we had the real checkpoint reawakening – five in the space of 50km, one of which managed to fine us for our malfunctioning rear number plate light. At least they didn’t check our reversing lights too – thanks to the mechanics in Pretoria we had neither of them either. Despite this and all the other police stops (and the brief distraction of our first ground hornbill sighting, initially mistaken for a red-headed vulture), we somehow made it to within 100km of Bulawayo before we’d decided whether we were going to camp wild or not. Being this close to the city, with fences on either side of the road, the decision was made for us and we headed straight to the municipal rest camp.

Bulawayo, like a lot of Zimbabwe, was a striking mix of grand buildings and obvious decay and driving through town we flitted between excitement and gloom at the thought of the campsite that awaited us. As it happened it was lovely. We never found the hot water but in terms of facilities we’ve certainly had worse, and the setting (think botanical gardens) made it a really nice find.

From Bulawayo we headed straight to Great Zimbabwe, where we bumped into the same British overlanders we’d met in South Africa. They cooked us our best meal in ages while we made fire, over which we had a great evening catching up before exploring the ruins the following morning.

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We eventually headed off around lunchtime in the hope of making it as far as Chimanimani, our gateway to the Eastern Highlands. We’d been very excited about this part of Zimbabwe but by the time we’d made it up there, the sun was setting, the Tinker Beast was ailing again and hiking was the last thing on our minds. The mechanics in Pretoria were haunting us still. Squeaking as the clutch started to slip all the way up the mountain, Sam knew that as soon as he got under it he’d see a leak. It was only Thursday and we’d planned to spend the weekend in the hills but with the thought that every kilometre could be our last we’d have driven ourselves crazy sticking to the plan. Instead we headed down to Mutare the following morning. If we could get it sorted there we would still be close enough to the highlands to get some hiking in, and if we couldn’t we’d at least be a step closer to Harare.

Unfortunately for us, the only campsite in town charged national park rates despite being on the loudest road in the country and having no water, running or otherwise. After one night and a brief foray into town we decided to cut our losses and head for Harare after all, fingers firmly crossed that the Tinker Beast would make it.

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One Comment

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  1. The Rider / Jun 5 2013 1:34 pm

    So near yet so far from me…

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