Welcome to Zimbabwe

I was going to write a long rant about the Zimbabwean border post at Kasane. I was going to go into excruciating detail about how that place is my personal definition of hell on Earth. How we stood in a queue with only fifteen people ahead of us for over three hours. How the sun beat down on us while waiting outside and of the unbearable heat and body odour inside the tiny little building when we finally progressed that far. Of how we nearly missed our scheduled activity even though we had arrived at the border post with four hours to spare. But then I decided that a long wait at an African border post is hardly unexpected and whining about it here is not going to change anything. After all, we all know that bureaucrats the world over are all the same.

When I told people that we would be visiting Zimbabwe I encountered two responses:

  1. Are you sure it’s safe? Better go to Zambia instead.
  2. Why would you want to put more money in Mugabe’s pocket? Better go to Zambia instead.

Even though I now also desperately want to view the Falls from the Zambian side, I don’t for a second regret our decision to go to Zimbabwe first. There are many reasons why I would recommend a visit to the Zimbabwean side of the Falls:

  1. You get the same luxury, in fact much better than we could normally afford, for half the price than in Zambia.
  2. I honestly don’t know how much of the Falls you see on the Zambian side, but on the Zimbabwean side it is simply spectacular.
  3. The people are ever so friendly and despite the idiot in charge of the country, or maybe because of him, you feel that the money you spend goes towards helping people who really need the income.
  4. Although we were a little uncomfortable with the hawkers and touts on the secluded pathway towards the Falls, there were tourist guards available to walk with us whenever we thought we might not be safe.
  5. Zambia might have the Royal Livingstone hotel, but Zimbabwe has the grand old Victoria Falls Hotel, the only hotel I’ve ever considered a destination in itself.

My relationship with Zimbabwe might have started off on the wrong foot, but by the end of the week I had fallen in love with the small part of that country we had the chance to experience. Make no mistake, it is still Africa. When you go take your patience, your tolerance and your sense of humour along.

But do go.

Click here for more posts in the African Adventure 2011 series.

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