It was a tough decision to make the journey into Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls. We were in an area which made getting into Zambia very difficult and judging from the day before, by experience, we were not too motivated. We talked to a variety of tour guides and all said that they were taking tourists through Zimbabwe to Victoria Falls daily without any problems.
Consider the situation as it is, there is currently no government in Zimbabwe, all is contested, all is disputed and really it is not a place that one should go at this time. Anyone, anywhere in the world, can tell you that Zimbabwe is an uncertain place at least.
However, when traveling local advice is the best advice, and with the consensus from the tourist operators being that it was ok to travel in to see the Falls we made the trip. As we talked about making the trip I was uneasy, as we saw that there was no other way to get to the Falls in our short trip, I had no choice but to be brave.
I was informed that the Visa charge for the Canadian was more than double that of the European (65USD). Upon asking why this was the case I was told that the Canadian authorities charge the same high rate for Zimbabweans to enter Canada. Fair enough.
At the border we encountered a “Third Party Insurance” agent who would not let us through unless we could prove that we had coverage in this country. If not we would have to buy road insurance from this young gentleman. Luckily we were covered.
As we crossed into Zimbabwe we were presented with the beautiful and unspoiled wilderness. We spotted buffalo on our trip. The African buffalo is like the great north American buffalo which is now extinct. It can reach nearly a ton in mass.
The Victoria Falls Hotel. We checked the rates although we were looking for a campsite. The US dollar rate was quite high at $286 for a standard twin room. When we saw the Zimbabwean rates we were floored. Nearly 20 billion dollars for the same room!!!
Victoria Falls. I personally liked the view from the Zimbabwean side much more than the Zambian view. Of course this came with other challenges. You can view the Zambian pictures here to make your own judgment.
We tried to stay, we wanted to stay. However the climate in Zimbabwe was just not accommodating for a night sleep. We brought gas and food with us just in case, however we had underestimated changing money. We had few US dollars which really seem to go far here. We also were unable to get money changed or visit a bank as they were unavailable or too busy respectively. I actually witnessed a man going shopping with an armload of cash as I published in an earlier post. In an attempt to change money on the street I received a condemning look and comment from a prominent local that we should not be changing money on the street. As it turned out it was to be a scam anyhow. We were keen and left.
I stopped into a bar to see if I could purchase a local beer. I asked how much for a beer, the response was “Ten Million dollars” ….!!!! The bar man then told me the US dollar rate but informed me that I could not take beer to go. He suggested a take away around the corner. I made my way there. There was a great deal of confusion here as well. In Zimbabwe you can not buy a beer without returning an empty bottle. This is part of the recycling plan. Since I had no empties, I proceeded to inquire. A local gent came to my rescue, another scam it seemed but actually in the end this guy facilitated the trade. I ended up getting two beers for five US dollars. In the end he asked for a service fee but I had nothing to give him. Still feel bad about this.