We’re finally in Zimbabwe which is a country that has been on my bucket list for so long. However, unlike Malawi which is my other bucket list country of the trip we will be spending 6 days here and have plenty of time to see the country.
Travelling to the Zimbabwean border
The journey to the border took us a little over 2 hours and we arrived at around 0830. On the approach to the border we encountered a huge line of trucks that went on for as far as the eye could see and we thought that the border was going to be a nightmare. However, luckily commercial vehicles and freight are processed separately to tourist and individual traffic and we drove straight past the line of trucks in no time at all.
Mambo told us that the trucks at the back of the line will likely be waiting to cross into Zimbabwe for several days – maybe even a week – which is crazy!
The experience for us was completely different and this is one of the most efficient land border crossings that I have ever seen. Everything is all on one building on the Zimbabwean side and all you have to do is go to 4 different numbered counters in order. The first counter was to check your COVID-19 vaccination certificate, the second to complete the Zambian exit formalities, the third to pay for your Zimbabwean visa, and the final one to have the visa issued. The whole process took less than 30 minutes which was incredible.
We had to wait for another hour for all of the customs checks to take place on the vehicle, during which time we used the bathroom and stretched our legs, before getting back on board the truck for our journey to Harare – the capital of Zimbabwe.
Driving across Zimbabwe
The journey took around 7 hours in total, including various stops for bush toilets and to do some shopping at a convenience store that was attached to a bus station. I stocked up on lots of items at the store including snacks, soda, and cider – with everything being paid for in US Dollars as is the norm for foreigners in Zimbabwe. For this reason it’s highly recommended that you bring lots of US Dollars in small denominations with you to Zimbabwe.
While at the bus station, some people also did the usual routine of buying Zimbabwean SIM cards so that they could stay in contact with people back home. As I’ve said before, when I’m travelling I’ll make the occasional phone call and send the occasional message but I travel to get away from the world rather than to stay in contact with it. But we all have different needs, so people need to do whatever is best for them.
Arriving in Harare
We arrived in Harare at around 1700 and made our way to the “It’s a small world” backpackers lodge which, due to COVID-19, is one of the final remaining places where overland trucks are able to stop. It’s only still in business because the owners had another property which they sold to keep this place going – most other places weren’t that lucky and have closed down due to lack of tourists.
The camp site is small, so can only cope with one truck at a time, but after a couple of long travel days and 4 days in a tent I had decided that I would upgrade to a room tonight if there was one available. Luckily, while some of the group went down the road to a local shopping centre, 3 of us stayed behind to check out the rooms and there were only 3 rooms available so we grabbed them immediately. I got the last room, next to reception, only seconds before somebody else who was staying there that night said that they wanted it which was lucky.
First come, first served unfortunately!
The room is great and didn’t cost that much. It has two double beds, a private bathroom with hot water, a writing desk, plenty of space, and great views out over the grounds. Unfortunately, one thing it also has is an infestation of ants which came running out of one of the plug sockets as soon as I tried to plug my phone in to charge. I’ll definitely be sleeping in the bed on the other side of the room tonight.
One of our group is staying in a tree house room which would have been an incredible place to stay. However, the room didn’t have a door and it was up some stairs which looked in desperate need of repair so I decided to give it a miss!
An evening at the lodge in Harare
The lodge has a great little swimming pool so I took a swim in there while Danny was getting set up for dinner. The water was cold but, even by my standards, but after a couple of long travel days across the hot African landscape it was welcome relief.
We had some time after dinner to chat over drinks in the lovely grounds, talking about our experiences on the trip so far and the things that we wanted to do while in Zimbabwe. Top of the list, other than Victoria Falls, was Nando but Mambo tells us that there is one in Bulawayo where we’ll have a chance to stop tomorrow. We also spent some time chatting with some South Africans who are currently living in Harare.
Overall, it was a great evening and the prospect of a 7am departure tomorrow doesn’t seem so bad after a good meal, cold swim, hot shower, and the promise of a comfortable bed to sleep in!
It’s a shame that there wasn’t time tonight to explore Harare before it got dark but I’m glad that I stayed back at camp to be able to secure an upgrade to a room.