Sunday, 12 August 2012

Our Journey through Limpopo Province, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe June 2012. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Today it was a case of crossing borders. It was very cold on the river as we travelled by speedboat back to the Namibian Boarder post at 08.00 to be stamped out of Namibia. Then crossed the Chobe River to enter Botswana at Kasane. It was then a very short dive to the Botswana / Zimbabwe Boarder. Now we left Botswana for the second time today and prepared to enter into Zimbabwe.
Where to today????
Botswana Boarder
The Zimbabwe Boarder from Zimbabwe.

Taking any car into Zimbabwe needs a little preparation, as I stated earlier if you are hiring a Car and then want to cross a boarder out of South Africa, you will have to organise this with the hire car company BEFORE YOU TRY TO CROSS as you will have to show the customs officer the following;
  • A letter of confirmation from the hire car company, with your name on it, allowing you to cross boarders.
  • The Certificate of Registration in respect of the vehicle you have hired, make sure you check that it is the certificate for the car you have hired and has the correct Registration number, engine number ect on it BEFORE you leave the car hire office!
  • A letter of Authority from the bank / financial services if the vehicle is still under finance.
  • Also to go into Zimbabwe you have to have two reflective warning triangles that conform to the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) placed at the front and rear of a vehicle in the event of a breakdown. According to the published guideline, the triangles must bear a serial number, name of the manufacturer and year of manufacture. All vehicles must carry an SAZ-approved fire extinguisher in a visible and accessible place in the cab of the vehicle as well as red and white reflectors. White reflectors are to be used at the front of the vehicle and red reflectors are to be used at the back of the vehicle.
At the Zimbabwe boarder we had fees to pay;
First the basic Visa Fee, $30 for a single entry visa, each. Then the fees for the car, the Tempory Import Permit, The Carbon tax, 3rd party insurance, and something on a blue Express Cargo Clearing Services (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) paper , it all came to US$ 305.00. So dully fleeced of all our US Dollar we entered Zimbabwe. We were stopped at our first road block about one mile past the border, where a plain clothed police man checked all the paperwork that had cost us $305.00 then nodded and waved us on! Welcome to Zimbabwe.

The road to Victoria Falls was a straight tar road and it was in a good state of repair. In less than an hour we arrived at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. This lodge is located a little way oou of the twom of Victoria Falls. Prior to my visit, I found all of the hotels in Victoria Falls to be quite expensive. On arriving in Victoria Falls it was apparent that I need not have pre booked as there was a lot of accommodation available, ranging from a basic campsite and back packers lodges to the grand Victoria Falls Hotel. However, Check in at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge was easy and they let us check in early. The room was fantastic, it was over two floors with a sitting area and balcony looking out over the watering hole and small bathroom downstairs. Then a large bedroom with 4 poster bed and full bathroom with Jacuzzi bath on the top floor! We had been up graded to a suite, and it was very nice.
I was in Victoria Falls to visit one of the seven natural wonders of the world, The Victoria Falls and to meet friends. One of whom was doing a bungee jump from the bridge that separates Vic Falls from Zambia.
From the hotel we drove the short distance to The Victoria Falls National Park, as we were tourists we paid the tourist rate in US $ to go to the park. Once through the gates you follow the path and walk to the falls. We followed the route that starts at the statue of Davis Livingstone, then made our way along the path, seeing the falls from all the view points. We had hired large rain coats and an umbrella and although they looked ridiculous, with the volume of water that was cascading over the ridge and the spray that was produced, we would have been soaked to the skin without the garments. With my feeble writing skills I am not going to describe the falls, plenty of authors have done that. All I will say is that it is a sight every one of us should see before we depart from the earth, so just go! (it’s what credit cards are for!).
Victoria Falls

The reason you go to Zimbabwe?
I stood at the view point overlooking the bridge whilst my friend did her bungee jump. If your want to do a Bungee then this has to be one of the most spectacular paces in the world to do it. Above the Zambezi River, with the falls behind you. Then we walked round on over the bridge to congratulate her on her fantastic achievement achievement. No visa fee was charged to cross the bridge, in face we did not have our passports but it was not a problem. From the bridge we had a good view of our next destination, The Victoria Falls Hotel.
This Edwardian-style five-star hotel, was built in 1904, it is fantastic and the buildings are almost as iconic as the Falls that are visible from its veranda. It is set in lush tropical gardens with lily ponds, palm trees and semi-tropical shrubs, with Warthogs trimming the green lawns. It provides the most tranquil of places to have Afternoon Tea, or rather ‘High Tea’ as it is called here. Best of all is that the falls or “Mosi-O-Tunya” in the local dialect, are clearly audible and visible from the hotel as you tuck into your sandwiches, scones and cream.
The Grand Victoria Falls Hotel
The ambience of the hotel is steeped in that history with the interior decorated in the gracious Edwardian style of Zimbabwe’s colonial era. The artefacts and paintings on the walls reflect and tell the history of this unique part of Africa, with particular reference to the building of the railway from Cape Town to what is now Zambia. It is very much part of the unrealised “Cape to Cairo” dream of Cecil John Rhodes. I loved the crockery with its symbol of the Cape to Cairo on it.
Cape to Cairo Milk Jug
It is not clear, but this one is a Sphinx, a bridge and a Lion.
The Tea was as traditional as if you were in London! But the setting was 100% better than even the best London establishment. We got through the selection of sandwiches and had more, all delicious. The Scone layer, with clotted cream and jam, then the deliciously sweet cake selection. All served with a Zimbabwean Tea and a glass of bubbly stuff. Absolute heaven! The ambiance of the setting cannot be under estimated, and all for $15.00 per person. 
Afternoon Tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel

The falls as seen from The Victoria Falls Hotel

Cape to Cairo by Train???

Or flying Boat from Southampton, BOAC.....

Reluctantly it was time to leave and go back to our hotel for a few G and Ts as the sun set over the watering hole. Basically the end to a perfect day in a perfect place, I will be back!