We woke up to thunder and thought we had time before the rain came, if it did come. Well, half hour later the rain came, so we both stayed in our tents until about 8 am and soon after the sun made an appearance. We packed our wet gear into our panniers thinking if it gets hot out today, these things are going to stink. We couldn’t find anything decent for breakfast, so we had to settle for a couple of thin sandwiches with cheese and tomato and a pop. No coffee to be found anywhere!!
The Zimbabwean border was 10 km away. This area has 4 countries bordering at one point, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. We saw the long line of trucks again patiently waiting to cross into Zambia. We found out later that there are 2 ferries to Zambia, each has a capacity of one truck and 5 cars.
We got to the border, and the building on the Botswana side looked identical to the one on the other end of the Kalahari. It was even set up the same on the inside. Another easy process. The Zimbabwean side was far more run down and simplistic. The immigration and customs officers had a sense of humor, which was nice as the process took some time. 75 USD for me (Canadian) and 30 USD for RobC (Dutch passport) for the visa and 46 USD each at customs to get the bikes into the country. It was the most expensive border crossing to date. There were some real characters in the line (a truck driver hauling fruit from South Africa to Victoria Falls for example) which eased the frustration of the process. It turned out to be quite a fun time.
With the border crossing finished we were on the road to Victoria Falls, 80 km away on a narrow 2-lane paved road. We arrived in Victoria Falls expecting a somewhat larger town but there was nothing much here. We located the Shoestring Backpackers Campsite. Something out of the 60’s complete with a Rastafarian at the entrance selling his artwork. 5 USD for a campsite but the place had no Internet. We decided to check out the Victoria Falls Rest Camp. Perfect! 10 USD for a campsite with a bar, restaurant, Internet, toilets and showers. We set up our wet tents and headed for a late lunch, then into the “town” to check it out. Bank, fuel station, one bar and lots of businesses selling tours, activities and crafts. If it wasn’t a tourist destination there would be nothing here.
We rode through the “townships” and I was floored by what I saw. Extreme poverty as I have never seen. People walking along the streets thhat were covered with patches of sand and garbage alongside the road. The homes were shacks, litter strewn around, several families living in one single dwelling. Everyone was keenly aware of our presence. Some would not make eye contact, others would wave when waved to and still others waved without looking directly at us as if it was a forced gesture. I felt like an intruder, an outsider.
Later that day, after reserving a rafting adventure on the Zambezi River for the next day, we stopped at a local bar, Hunters, and met some very interesting locals. Met a young guy nicknamed Shakalaka. He was a local merchant trying to make a living selling arts and crafts. After some conversation and a couple of beers later we headed back to our campsite.
Not sure who would book with these guys.
RobC, being a linguist, was intently listening to one of our local friends and trying to decipher the slurred language he was speaking. (Ed. his slurring was not a feature of the language.) :-)