Four months to Christmas…:)
I’s much cooler up here in the highlands. Robins Camp is an insight into how things were run when the country was called Southern Rhodesia. Immaculately looked after grounds and as from the photo in yesterday’s blog, lovely thatched villas and a central pool where G&T’s would have been sipped at dusk, and still are. The camp is in the Hwangi National Park but I suspect the facility is being run by a Trust, otherwise it would be in ruin, like everything else. The park covers 5,600sq miles.
We were camped close to a new tin shed ablution block and the showers were the best ever. Spacious and with a beautifully modulated flow of hot water. Bliss after missing out on a shower due to yesterdays camp fire.
Despite it being cooler last night, neither of us slept well. Packed and on the track by 9.15am. We are getting better at an early start..:).
Unsure of where we are going to be able to camp tonight, we stopped off at the site office. The clerk there was decidedly unhelpful regarding booking us ahead, so we left and as usual, took it in our own hands to find a spot. He has been an exception. Everyone else we have spoken with have been charming, efficient and helpful. While Jen was trying to communicate with the guy, I looked to see if there was any wifi. Bingo, and free, so posted Jen’s blog from yesterday.
The Crocodile Pools
With the Sat-Nav programmed to Hwange 107k’s away, we took to the rough track out of the camp.
10k’s on we took a diversion to the Crocodile Pools. About 5k’s of an even more rugged track we came to an elevated hide, looking down onto a remaining piece of water with Elephants drinking, Hippo’s in the middle partially submerged, but coming to the surface occasionally to grunt in the most melodious way. All this with Crocodiles basking on the banks, seemingly taking no notice of the intruders drinking close by.
With babies in the elephant herd it was noticeable that the mothers were making sure they were between the babies and the crocs, some babies barely able to walk and can only have been born very recently. It kept falling down and resting but mum was there to guide it.
Approx 30k’s from Hwange we drove through what must have been once a grand camp at Sinamintella, but sadly, it’s now lying in near ruin.
A little further on we came across a Land Rover Discovery that was partially jacked up and four women of varying ages were trying to change a flat rear tyre. There was a Tour driver trying to help them but they could not get the rear high enough to get the wheel off. We pulled in and I immediately thought, here is an opportunity to use the exhaust jack we bought before leaving the UK. It took a bit of juggling to get it under the rear suspension wishbone and while doing this, one of the women, they were all American, started to try jacking it up on a rock, with another jack. Jen warned me that the whole thing could collapse on me so I withdrew the bladder, packed it away and drove off. The jack is immensely powerful and efficient.
Getting closer to Hwange took us past massive coal mining operations. The pollution was unbelievable. Obsolete or broken down equipment and vehicles littering yards, it’s a total mess and eyesore. There is a coal powered power station nearby but I suspect much of the coal is going offshore to China.
Reaching the town of Hwange, we took the opportunity of visiting a supermarket to top up the larder. Everything is payable using American dollars. Hwange is definitely a coal town.
It’s 101k’s from Hwange to Victoria Falls. There are no camps at Hwange, or between.
From another era.
We are camped at the Victoria Falls rest camp. It’s large and while apparently full, we easily found a remote spot with grass to make camp. We are a 15min walk to the falls. It’s not the best time to view them as we are in the middle of a very dry season. Tomorrow we’ll take a look. There are endless helicopters in the air and we can hear the roar from the falls, but can’t see anything.
An observation and speculation. To my mind, the people of Zimbabwe have been markedly different in their attitude and presentation. Friendly and courteous. Could it be that deprivation caused by recently past and present, rapacious rulers has a gelling or unifying influence on the people? Or is it from a previous gentler European rule?