Hwange and Buyawalo (ZW)

Before sunrise we were back in Andy’s jeep for another game drive. It is quite fascinating how quickly time passes when all you do is drive around on the lookout for animals. We were on the jeep for 6 hours and it never got boring. Andy’s enthusiasm and knowledge had to do with it and of course I never get tired of watching elephants. We almost got charged by one.
Andy is the sort of person who can smell animals a mile away and quite often he predicted exactly what we would see in a few minutes by footprints or the temperature of animal poop. At one point he stuck his finger in fresh elephant poop and then put it in his mouth. Later on it turned out that he had used the index finger for the temperature check but he had licked his middle finger. But with announcements like “I love fresh animal poop” it wouldn’t have surprised me if that was the actual joke.

 

In the afternoon we drove to Buyawalo in the pouring rain. Luckily so far it has only rained when we were inside somewhere, or at night. However Andy took two people in his jeep because they needed to get to the bus station faster than we could have taken them and all three of them must have gotten soaked as there was no rain cover on it. I was glad I had already sorted out the visas the two guys needed – the reason they had to leave the group for two days.

 

Buyawalo is the second biggest city in Zimbabwe, over a million people supposedly. Since it was Sunday it was fairly empty but we got a good impression of it regardless. It seemed really nice actually, with wide avenues and some pompous buildings, even a city center with large shops. We went to a smallish supermarket which was well stocked and nothing like the sorry place in Victoria Falls. The supermarket was crowded but everyone was incredibly friendly without giving us the tourist treatment. In general we noticed how friendly and happy people seem to be here. Considering that the unemployment rate is at 90% you don’t get the impression that people are suffering though I’m sure they are.

 

The campside belongs to a huge lodge that is built into rock. Some of the rocks have bushman paintings from 4,000 years ago. An older lady from Liverpool manages the place and told us a little about life in Zimbabwe. Obviously under Mugabe nobody is doing so well but overall everyone is really proud of their country and wouldn’t think of leaving (though that’s certainly not true for the younger generation). People with jobs hold on to them and make between $100 and $400 per month depending on the job. Tourism has really tanked here since the last elections though as a tourist you obviously don’t see the problems, nor do they affect you.


We drank red wine, waited for leopards (highest leopard concentration in Africa, but none showed up) and looked at the stars…it was perfect, and I can see what the lady meant.

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