Zimbabwe - Round The World Tour 2003 Day 56

Victoria Falls

Wednesday 7th May

Travelling in Africa is challenging. I’ve heard this said many a time but am only now starting to really understand it. The Wildlife Adventure crew that we spoke with at the reception desk last night had already left at nine thirty this morning. We had agreed that I would speak with them between nine and ten in the morning to see about booking passage on one of their northbound trucks. Since they were no longer there, this option seems to have now fallen through. We are now back to square one again with regards to our next move forward through Africa. If all else fails, we can still bite the bullet and buy a plane ticket but I’m leaving that as a very last option as it means forking out something like $250 for each of us and we still have to buy a ticket to Cairo at some point.

After packing up and checking out again, we walked into town to Shearwaters to call the Wildlife head office to speak with Clair, the sales manager for the Cape to Vic route. She remembered me and we exchanged a few pleasantries. I told her about our wanting to get up North and she said she would see if there were any options for us and we agreed to speak again later or the next day. There may be a truck that is leaving from Harare on Saturday that we may be able to catch a ride on if we can get there before it leaves.

We took our backpacks back to Lokatula Lodge and left them there, ready to check back in again when Bertie & Mags returned later on in the day from their Chobe trip, and then headed back into town to check back with some of the backpackers places to see if they had any more information about any trucks heading up North. So far, no definitive options are available for us but there are a few trucks coming into town tomorrow so we are hopeful that something will develop.

Our money situation is getting quite desperate now. We are down to our very last $40 and just a small pile of Z$500 bills – less than $20 worth altogether. With no means of obtaining US dollars available to us, things are looking quite bleak. The problem isn’t that we don’t have any money (there is plenty in the bank); it’s just that we cannot get to it. We are still hopeful that we can do some sort of exchange with Bertie & Mags when they return.

We went back to the post office this afternoon to see how much it would cost to send a letter back to England. The same idiot that was behind the counter the first time we went (and were fed misinformation from about the costs of sending a package) and he proved just as incompetent today. To send a letter via registered post would apparently cost Z$45,000 (about $45). This is more than double what we paid to send a huge eighteen and a half kilogram package yesterday. We’ll clearly have to go back again when someone who knows what they are talking about is behind the counter again.

We spent some time during the day mulling around and chatting with the touts and so on and eventually bumped into Andy again at Shearwaters. We hitched a ride with him up to Lokatula to meet up with Bertie & Mags again but it appeared that the bus from Chobe had not yet returned so Andy left again. He’s been up to the lodge several times now to collect a bit of cash that Bertie & Mags had left for him but each time something gets in the way and he leaves empty handed. Shortly after he left, we walked into the bar to sit and wait from them only to find them sitting there already. They were still in the process of being checked in so we joined them for a drink.

Luckily, Bertie was still keen to assist us with our financial predicament and we talked a bit about participating in some activities such as a helicopter ride above the falls and even a half-day Elephant safari.

Ultimately, we booked for both the helicopter ride as well as the Elephant Safari. Bertie paid me the $150 in advance for their helicopter ride (I will pay for the four of us by credit card tomorrow) and we changed some of this into local currency later in town. I can breathe a sigh of relief now that we have a fresh stock of cash in both US dollars and local currency.

The helicopter ride departs from the Zambia side of the border. Apparently, if you don’t stay overnight, you can go into Zambia and back without needing to pay visa costs on both sides. Whilst in Livingstone in Zambia, we can apparently convert traveller’s checks into US dollars so this will give us the opportunity to really stock up for the remaining few weeks that we will be in Africa.

Since there are still one of two more curio purchases that I want to make (I could spend all year shopping at the markets here), we sorted out some more small bank notes in US dollars, Pounds Sterling and Euros as well as a few other things to trade with. We can add the photo disks and a few other items to the next package we will send and kill two birds with one stone.

We had a lovely evening in town with Bertie & Mags this evening and a nice French couple that they had met just a few days ago also joined us soon after we had finished eating. Since it will be a very early start for the Elephant safari tomorrow morning, Sandy and I took the nine o’clock shuttle back to the lodge and are now comfortably tucked in again. Tomorrow will be a long day – where have I heard that before? 🙂