With the recent turn of political events in Zimbabwe, many travellers (including ourselves) were left unsure as to whether it was safe to travel overland through that country. With roadblocks, extortion and corruption already plaguing Zimbabwe’s reputation, it would be very easy for the situation to worsen and the country to collapse entirely. Yet few considered the alternative – change for the better.
The great news is that the military intervention in Zimbabwe does seem to have had a positive impact and truly changed things for the better. We recently crossed the border from Botswana to Zimbabwe at the Pandamatenga border post with some trepidation about what we were getting into, but then spent a fantastic six weeks travelling through Hwange National Park, up to Victoria Falls, then onto Chizarira National Park, Bumi Hills and Kariba.
We encountered only three roadblocks during that entire journey, all of which were on the road between Hwange Town and Victoria Falls. At each brief stop, we were greeted with smiles by the military men and asked details about our trip: Where had we travelled, did we like Zimbabwe, what animals had we seen, were we going to bungee jump at Vic Falls?
At each stop, we were wished well and sent on our way without so much as a vehicle inspection. We got the feeling we were genuinely welcome.
In rural areas, villagers smiled kindly and waved, and told us that if we wanted to, we could pull up on the side of the road and set up camp for the night. When we asked if that was safe, the answer was, “Th is is Zimbabwe”.
Can things turn around for good? We certainly hope so. The people of Zimbabwe are full of enthusiasm for it and there are high hopes resting on Zimbabwe’s new president. Our expedition through Zimbabwe was fantastic – stunningly beautiful game reserves, good roads (mostly) and kind and friendly people, all hopeful of a brighter future. Zimbabwe is a very special country with so much to share with the world – let’s all hope they get the future they deserve.