Didn't really want to take a camping bus trip for 2 days as would have preferred going straight to Victoria Falls but figured this bus may be a good way to see parts of Botswana too!
So waited 4 days for this bus to Victoria Falls in northern Zimbabwe which as would go on Mon with an itinerary!
A good thing about going through Botswana is Canadians don't need a visa or pay a fee to enter the country! You just get a stamp in your passport for 90 days!
Day 1: Elephant Sands (Botswana)
The bus departed early morning from Johannesburg and Pretoria. We stopped en-route for breakfast (at our own cost), to a bank for for currency exchange and last minute shopping while still on the South African side of the border. The driver assisted us with changing money after we had crossed the border into Botswana. We headed further north to Elephant Sands which is a lovely lodge close to Nata, where we stay the night. We got in late so couldn't relax at the swimming pool but we did chill at the waterhole to watch animals such as large herds of elephants and other animals including lion coming to drink water.
We camped in tents provided by Livingstone bus company as all we had to do was put them up! Not sure where the people on the bus were from but most of them didn't have a clue on how to pitch a tent! So hell I ended putting up 4 tents besides my own! Two of the chicks wanted to upgrade to bedded accommodation. But there wasn't any indoor accomodations at Elephant Sands!
We did get an awesome dinner & breakfast meal prepared by Elephant Sands and got to see the elephants as they came to the watering hole!
Day 2: Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)
After an early morning light breakfast we drove further north to the Zimbabwe border post. This drive took us through the Kasane forest where we saw herds of elephants and a variety of antelopes, giraffes and some people saw a lion, hyena and wild dog. From there we drove another hour to the vibrant town of Victoria Falls where the tour end on arrival in Victoria Falls.
Along the way one of the chicks yelled out there's a giraffe or elephant! So the driver stopped the vehicle and drove backwards to the point of the sighting! Unfortunately he forgot about the trailer we were pulling with the tents, etc and the trailer fishtailed and hit the van and broke the trailer hitch and a window on the van! So the driver had to drive to the next town for some repairs and get a pin for the trailer hitch! He was going to leave the trailer on side of the highway so myself and a couple of others volunteered to stay and keep an eye on the trailer!
When we crossed the border into Zimbabwe I was really surprised because a single entry Zimbabwe visa cost me $79 USD ! While no one from any other country had to pay as Canadian as heck even Americans paid less! What was interesting is Zimbabwe abandoned their own currency in 2009 and now use the South African Rand, and, to a lesser extent, the US Dollar and UK Pound.
It seems hyperinflation in Zimbabwe was so bad by early 2009, that, in February 2009, they issued the $100 Trillion note that you have probably seen offered as a collectible. Days later, they revalued the Zimbabwe dollar at 1 Trillion old dollars = 1 new dollar. By April 2009, when Zimbabwe abandoned their own currency entirely, 300 new Zimbabwe dollars was equal to US$1. Luckily I always travel with a few hundred USD as came in handly here and later in Mozambique!
Zimbabwe has no currency of it's own since attempts to control inflation by legislation, and three re-denominations (in 2006, 2008 and 2009). The use of the Zimbabwian dollar as an official currency was effectively abandoned on 12 April 2009 due to the skyrocketing inflation. According to some sources, a person would starve on just a billion Zimbabwe dollars. This was a result of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe legalizing use of foreign currencies for transactions in January 2009! Zimbabweans are waiting for change and are usually talking about politics. After all, the country has had had the same leader since 1980! But they are quite literally waiting around for change - pocket change that is! Bcuz they never have enuf change as it's a big problem in Zimbabwe! Cuz by Jan 2009, the country was churning out bills worth 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollars, which were soon so worthless they not buy a loaf of bread! But since Zimbabwe started using the United States dollar as its currency in 2009, it has run into a surprising quandry. Once worth too little, money in Zimbabwe is now worth too much! 1 CAD = 346.5578853597 ZWD (Zimbabwean Dollar) but not really used or recognized!
There was a show held at the Shoe Strings Guesthouse with some Zimbabwian women's group singing and dancing & they were pretty good as like traditional African dancing! Also met some cool Rasta guys who were selling their wares as we really connected so they invited me to a Reggae concert the next evening as was cheap!
But didn't go to the Reggae bcuz I found out that if I left that night on the night train (the only night during the week) to Botawayo, would be able to catch a scheduled night train from there to Harare the next night! Then the next night there was also a scheduled night train from Harare to Mutare (by the Zimbabwe-Mozabique border)! Heck found out that for about $15 shit could take the train with a sleeper to Botawayo! So thought wtf why not go for it? So f*ck I did !
So wtf decided that should take the night train out of town to Botawayo cuz a person only needed to spend a couple days in Victoria Falls cuz it was way too touristy with way too many people pedalling sovenirs, etc for moi! Plus there just wasn't that much to see in the town outside of Victoria Falls plus not much into touristy shit and as basically not a tourist!
The night train from Victoria Falls to Botowayo turned out really great! I had a sleeper which shared with another person so got a great night's sleep. This made me think that hell this was the best way to travel thru Zimbabwe or anywhere! So when we arrived in Botowayo in the morning I hurried to the ticket office to score another ticket for a sleeper to Harare! But dam found out they were sold out of sleeper car tickets so had to get a coach seat! Then I had 10 hrs to kill so wander the city and found an internet cafe to check my email!!
Taking the night train sitting in a coach seat thru the night was way different than in a sleeper car! I kinda relate it to kinda like a cattle car (tho have never travelled in a cattle car but have travelled in buses with chickens, dogs, cats and idiot peep who were like pigs lol) as it was a bit crowded, noisy and kind of windy as the windows didn't seem to close tightly or at all! But could handle it and what was cool was there were some Zimbabwian Women's Singing Group singing and dancing thru out the night which made the trip more enjoyable!
When we got to Harare in the morning again I went to the ticket office and again couldn't get a sleeper car to Matare on the overnight train! So ended up buying a seat in the regular coach! Someone told me the reason there were no sleeper berths left for paying customers were the workers got them! Dam
That night train was the same as the previous night's train a friggin Cattle Car except this train had no women singing and dancing! Luckily I always carry my ipod to listen to music!
In the morning about 8 am we reached Mutare so I checked on getting to the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border! The only way it seemed was to take a taxi as it wasn't very far & cost me $2 as it dropped me off at the Mozambique border. So f*ck after taking 1 night trains & 2 cattle cars made it thru Zimbabwe & the border to Mozambique and the Immigration!