Staying at Makuti Travel Lodge
Distance 68 + 7995 = 8063
Time 6 h 12 m
Total from Amsterdam 13463
Location S16.311589, E29.24355
HELLO ZIMBABWE !!!
Said goodbye to the hippos, two male chubby well fed cats, our brief but lovely view of the Zambezi River, our campsite next to the swimming pool and the lovely Machembere Lodge in Zambia. We left the lodge at 06h33 and it was an easier ride out than in … the powdery sand was still cool making it easier to ride on, and the gravel not too stoney. We arrived at the area where all the money changing touts hang out and Peter got a good rate of 1.35 Zim Bond Notes to US$1. We were warned that there is no money in the ATMs and this was the main reason for initially deciding not to ride in Zim.
After many WhatsApp messages between Peter and friends we met in Zanzibar, Dave and Jan, and my WhatsApps with Lindale in Chinhoyi, finally tipped the scale to us riding through a portion of Zimbabwe. A huge billboard close to the immigration building, promoting a message that many countries’ leaders should seriously consider, put a smile on my dial. The border formalities were painless at both counters and the two Zim immigration officers, Stanley and Robson, posed with us taking pictures. Passports stamped at 07h53 and we left feeling positive about riding and meeting the lovely people in Zimbabwe but felt sorry for the truck drivers trying to process their papers to enter Zambia. There were well over 100 trucks, most of them from SA. I waved my flag to all the SA trucks that had drivers in the cabs and am sure most slept in the queue last night.
Having barely ridden 3 km from the border Peter spotted an adult and three small elephants crossing the road. This sighting had our eyes searching for more wildlife than keeping an eye on the road for potholes or trucks. We saw plenty of warthogs, running from us and scaring the daylights out of Peter … he had lions on his mind. The going was tough … no more nice smooth tar roads and another day of headwinds, no small towns to buy fruit, veg or cooldrinks … so no ‘how are yous’ today ??
We stopped at 20 and 30 km for sandwiches, fruit and coke and at 44 km for lunch and chatted to a few local Zim folk about our ride to date – ?????? – were some of the expressions and comments we received. The turnoff to Mana Pools was just before our lunch stop and we were sad that we could not go there for a few days. We stopped to chat to the guy at the tsetse fly control boom, Mereke, to discover he’s been working at this post for over 38 years. In 2011 we hadn’t collected our permits and on arriving here Mereke said we needed to go back … and would we mind charging his phone in our bakkie while we collect our permits which we did and handed his phone back, almost fully charged. He remembers the incident well?
From here on we had about 24 km of hills. The first 10 km were gentle uphills with tail winds and we both thought (but didn’t say) that this was easy peasy. We then popped in to chat to the staff of the Marongora Parks and Wild Life office to enquire about fees to visit Mana at some time again in the future. Mmmm, we would like to go for a week but we changed our minds and would go for 3, maybe 4 days ?? Camping fees at Nyamepi are :
$23 pppd for campsites SB1, 2, 3 ,4 (cheapest)
$70 – 115 pppd for all other sites
$15 pppd entry fee
$10 per car valid for 5 days
The ride got considerably harder after leaving the above office, probably due to our blood pressure skyrocketing at what it would cost to camp at Mana … and these are 2018 prices. Arrived at Makuti Travel Lodge around 16h30 to hear they only have three rooms that are functional but they made a plan and as far as we’re concerned, its 5 star. Peter mentioned during today’s ride he’d love to soak in a bath and to our delight our room here has one. We filled it to near overflowing … it wa s so relaxing and helped with the tired and sore muscles. Supper was tender beef and rice stew, $4.50 and a plate of chips each, $3. Belgium lost to France and we’ll see who goes through with tomorrow’s game, England or Croatia. Very tired, night all, Zzzzz
Mana Pools is a game reserve which is on the Zambezi River. The campsites are unfenced and elephants, lion, hippos and many other wild animals are free to roam through the camping area.
– Zimbabwe, country number 16
– Trucks waiting to enter Zambia
– Say no to corruption
– Mana Pools turn off
– Mereke, the guy at the tsetse fly control boom gate