We were lucky and crossing the busiest southern border was done in less than 35 minutes - according to our guide a new record as it fan easily take 1-2 hours until you are getting through. While driving you could see and feel soon that youhave entered a poorer country by the construction of the streets, the people walking a long the streets with their huge baskets on their head but personally I felt more being in Africa than before.Middle afternoon we arrived at the accommodation for the next two days in Bulawayo, the Travellers Guest House - A Lovely accommodation with great food next to the Banff restaurant where we had 3 drinks 2 x 250gr Steaks with Veggies and Fries for about 600 Zimbabwian Dollars- but as you never know how much value the Dollars has - we paid in total 20USD - amazing value for money!
When one of the 5 big five makes you breath-and speechless
But we were even more excited about the next day: In the morning we got picked up by Andy - in mx point of view a real bushman as he knows a lot about the bush and its wildlife - who drove us in direction of Matobo National Park. Target of the day was to see the endangoured Rhinos in wild, as the park has a good number of Rhinos and chances were good to spot some. The plan was first going up on a hill outside of the park to check if we could see some, if not we were supposed to look for some tracks on the ground and last option would have been to call a ranger who can tell where they were located. So we went up the hill, had a fantastic view but didn‘t see any Rhinos. But when going down, I could spot one next to the rock where we were coming down , and suddenly a second one showed up and soon we could observe 4 of this beautiful giants - even a baby was there (estimated about 8-9 months)It is hard to describe this feeling - I was overwhelmed already seeing the first wild animals in South Africa - but this was different again. Because we walked in the bush - outside of the park - no vehicle around us and we got so close to them. Simply blew my mind away. Our guide told us then that we should wait a bit -he thinks they are heading to a water hole - either for drinking or for lying in the mud to cool them down. He assured us that they noticed us, but they didn‘t feel disturbed at all, they bodylanguage told him (i could not tell) that they are super relaxed and so we followed them with some distance to the water hole. We could even get closer and were only 2-3 meters away when the baby one started to jump and run around. I could hardly breath - he said the baby just has too much energy it won‘t harm! Of course it was cute to see - too bad that I was too nervous to capture the baby jumps with my camera. But as we are not used to it being so close to such kind of animals - we preferred to step back a bit and keep observing them in a more „safe“ distance. Although I could watch them for hours, it was time to move on as we didn‘t even entered the park yet.
The cool thing on Matobo Nationalpark is not only the population of Rhinos - the vegetation and landscape is different again with more rocks and hills - local people just live next to the park and we learned a lot about the human-animal conflict. It is much more complex than you could imagine - and I really hope they find ways who help the wildlife and the local people too. In Matobo they have for example armed rangers 24/7 to reduce pouching who get paid with a salary that it becomes more interesting to protect the wildlife instead of killing it. Furthermore they chop the horns of the rhino a bit which will grow again- the blackmarket is mainly interested in a complete horn - and so the rhino is better protected against pouchers.
Anyways, we had a lovely lunch next to a beautiful dam, before it was time again to do some hiking. We went up to another hill where we got taught in history as in a big cave wall paintings have been founded - very impressive. We decided then to get up on top of the hill where we had another fantastic view over the entire park. Back in the park we spotted other wildlife such as zebras, Kudus - and Rhinos again! This time there were 3 - Andy was again super fast and super close to the Rhinos - too close for our taste :-) a big one slowly turned his head and was staring at us - although impressive - somehow scary too but we did what we got told: always keep standing - never run away (although you tempt to) and you will be fine. And the rhino turned around again,proceeding his grassing into the other direction. After getting pumped with so much adrenalin, Beat was somehow relieved that we didn‘t see any other Rhinos - I would say to see 7 wild Rhinos by exploring and walking through the bus h will remain forever in my heart and was an unforgettable experience! But the day was not over yet - another highlight was to go to Rhodes Grave - certainly a very interesting spot to learn more about Zimbabwe‘s history - but it is a great spot for an amazing sunset too! And so, a fantastic day has come to an end - on the way back we were trying to spot some leopards which is super hard - and we didn‘t succeed unfortunatley. But I don‘t complain - the day had alreadyoverexceeded my expectations by far! Time for another lovely dinner at Banffs - before going to bed as the next day we‘re heading to Victoria Falls!
Meeting one of the Natural Worldwonder
Next day we had a bit of a drive to cover and arrived in the afternoon at our accommodation, the Cresta Spray Hotel for the next two nights. We could relax from the drive before we got picked up for a sunset cruise along the Zambesi river which is leading to the victoria falls.
We got warmly welcomed by the crew and there were approx. 12 other guests. The landscape was beutiful and soon we’ve seen some Hippos in the water. During the
cruise we got a delicious 3 dinners course andall drinks were included. This led that some of the people got very drunk and on the way back a bit annoying but gladly it was not a long drive back
- where we even spotted some buffalos in town - and overall it was a beautiful eveningand we enjoyed it to the fullest.
Next morning it was time to see the famous Victoria Falls where we only got a glimpse of the mist during the dinner cruise the night before. The entrance fee is 30 USD and definitively the place where I’ve seen most tourist since we landed in Africa. The tour with different stops takes about 1.5 hours with different, fantastic views over the falls. I have to mention that right now it is the end of the dry season and therefore there is not so much water as during other months. Nonetheless - it was impressive and worth to see. There is also the option to go on the other side of the falls and cross the border to Zambia - there is a spot called Devils Pool - mostly attracting influencer I guess but I have to admit it looked amazing - the pools are probably safe during dry season only I guess. We didn’t go there as we decided against a multi-entry-visa to have more time for a relaxed day - checking out the town after the Falls as well but there was not much to see and so we enjoyed (for the first time on this tour) a swim in the pool which was surrounded by amazing mango trees.
For the later evening, we booked a night game drive in a private owned reserve as we won’t have the possibility for an evening drive on ghe trip & we love
wildlife & the other adrenalin options were not something we wanted to do. So we got picked up in the special 4x4 Game Drive vehicle and made
our way yo the park. The area was amazing, we could spot 2 black! Rhinos, Elephants, Giraffes, various Antilopes and finally some lions -whoop! What a great start into the drive! But then -
unfortunafely we got stuck in the mud and there was no option to get out by ourselves. Gladly, an antipoaching team came to help and we could continue our journey. High five to this guys who not
only helped us - but doing a great 24/7 job to protect the wildlife - especially Rhinos - from poachers. At a dam with some Hippos we enjoyed then
a lovely apero before we were heading to a yum 3 course dinner and we drove back with aredlight. We could hear the hyenas and could see that the lions have moved from where we have seem them
& a huge bunch of impala eyes were looking at us -I assume the enemy was not too far away but we haven’t seen anymore. Nonetheless it was a
very cool drive - def.worth the money and a perfect end of our stay in Zimbabwe!
But time has come to move on into the next country, Botswana was calling...