Zimbabwe, briefly

I spent a few nights at the lodge in Livingstone. It was a nice place; I stayed in a small log cabin (chalet if you want to be fancy). A zebra walked past my window, and an emu came to search through my rubbish. I even met some cycle tourists!

The cyclists in question were Rob and Anna, also British, who had cycled from Cairo. We’d both been recommended this place by another cycling couple that we’d spoken to but not met. It was nice to chat to some other cycle tourists – they’ve seen a few along the way, but I’ve not seen any since Serbia.

The day before I was due to leave, I went to the market and bought some new inner tubes. I also decided to swap out my rear tyre for the one I bought in Tanzania. I’ve not mentioned each one but I’ve been getting punctures most days recently. When I went to swap out the tyre, I found that the size printed on it was not in fact it’s actual size, and it did not fit my wheel. I’d carried it for six weeks for nothing!

My pump was also starting to not work very well. So the next morning I went back to the market. The guy at the bike had a 700c tyre. I was just fitting it when he had a look in the back and found some surprisingly good tyres, Specialized ones. They’re an Armadillo model which seems to be a heavier, puncture resistant one – much better than the local ones anyway. I bought a pump too.

From there I went and collected my PCR test result, having had a sample taken the day before. After a final stop by the supermarket I headed down to the border to Zimbabwe. I showed my PCR test and was soon stamped out, and I rode over the bridge to Zimbabwe. The view from the bridge wasn’t bad!

Warthogs in the border area

I went to immigration and was directed to the health official, in a tent. He looked at my PCR and handed me a scrap of paper. It was literally just an old immigration form that had been ripped up. He didn’t stamp it, or write on it, this random scrap of paper was the only proof he’d checked my PCR but it was good enough for the immigration official.

I had to pay $55 for the visa – which is more than I’d expected. It’s $30 for most nationalities. The immigration official was upset I didn’t immediately believe him but he did point out a piece of paper on the wall which seemed to confirm it, and I got a receipt. At least I’m not Canadian; they apparently have to pay $75.

From there I went to the falls. I had to pay another $30 here and then off I went.

The path to the viewpoints
At some of the viewpoints the spray from the falls was so thick I couldn’t see anything!
The bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe

The falls really were impressive, even going into them expecting some of the best waterfalls in the world. Imagine discovering them having had no idea what to expect!

I rode around the outskirts of the Zimbabwe town, appropriately named Victoria Falls. There were several baboons around. I saw one climbing down from the roof of a supermarket, shimmying down a drainpipe and wandering away.

I was only going to be in Zimbabwe for a few hours, so I didn’t bother withdrawing cash or anything. I headed off towards Botswana. The road went through a game reserve, but I only saw a warthog. There was lots of elephant dung around but I saw none of the animals themselves.

For the most part it was pretty flat, with just one dip in the middle. As I slowly cycled up the other side of this, lots of flies buzzed around me, making me very glad it was mostly flat!

In the early evening I reached the Botswanan border. At this point four countries (Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana) share a border. I could see the bridge from Zambia to Botswana, and my Zambian sim card was working.

Zimbabwean exit was simple, a quick look at the PCR then an exit stamp. On the Botswanan side there was a health control, possibly for foot and mouth. I was asked to wheel my bike through what was essentially a big puddle, got my PCR test stamped and went to immigration. This was the easiest entry to a country in Africa! I didn’t need a visa; I didn’t even need to fill in a form. My passport was stamped and off I rode, and saw a few antelope crossing the road.

I stopped at a supermarket where I paid by contactless for the first time in Africa. I’d been warned that Botswana would be more expensive but I was still shocked. Thankfully that was mostly because I’d misremembered the exchange rate, and when I got the notification on my phone I ended up being pleasantly surprised.

I made my way over to a lodge/campsite and booked a camping spot. Botswana is significantly more expensive than further north in Africa, it could be a while before I sleep in a bed again! It was a nice campsite – in particular, it had a very friendly cat.

Knock knock

Feb 6: 91 km

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