Hi, In Dec/Jan my wife and I are on a camping tour through the Okevango Delta that ends in Livingstone. Once the tour finishes and we have seen the Vic Falls from both sides, we have a week before our flight out of Johannesburg. We have decided that we want to come down through Zimbabwe, possibly taking the overnight train from Livingstone to Bulawayo and then making trips to Matobo or Hwange, before taking an overnight coach down to Johannesburg. We don't want to fly, we prefer going overland. Do you have any advice on what the best things to do are in Western Zimbabwe? How easy is it arrange trips to Matobo or Hwange (not in luxury accommodation) when you're in Zimbabwe, or do you need to book ahead? And we've read that it's not easy to hire a car (as there may fuel shortages?) so is it easy to get around without one? Thanks for any advice you can give! Dan
Hi Dan I have to warn you that Western Zimbabwe is one of my favourite places, so don't expect unbiased commentary from me! However, you need to take into consideration a number of challenges. Firstly December/January is high season for local tourists as the schools break up for the summer holidays in early December and don't go back until mid January. The sort of medium price accommodation that you're considering is therefore in demand, so you'll need to book ahead. The accommodation in the Zim National Parks is very basic (due to being starved of funds for maintenance and day-to-day running), but is kept to the highest possible standard of cleaniness due to the dedication of staff working against almost insurmountable odds, for which they deserve enormous credit. If you've been camping on the previous part of your trip, then you'll have the attitude and the equipment to more than cope with this. Also bear in mind that this accommodation is self-catering, so you'll have to bring your food and other provisions with you. Alternatively, there are some mid range guest houses and lodges who have managed to stick it out through Zim's economic woes - I suggest that you Google Bulawayo + Matobos (also consider that Matobos used to be spelled 'Matopos' until independence, so give both a try). Secondly, exploring that area without your own transport and on a tight timeline is a bit of a challenge. Both Hwange and the Motobos are fantastic places, but inaccessible by public transport, so you'll either have to self drive or do a guided tour. There was an issue with fuel shortages a couple of years when the Zim economy was in complete meltdown, but since the introduction of a USD based system, things have stabilised - albeit on a sadly low base - and I'm not aware of major problems around fuel supply in recent months. Car hire is possible, but not necessarily as easy as it might be in other places. If you want to consider this option, I would recommend hiring in Bulawayo and using this as your base to explore both parks (which is 'doable' in just under a week) and then catching a connection to Johannesburg. Also, just to be cautious, the connections from Bulawayo to Jo'burg are not as reliable as they might be. So, just to be safe, please consider planning to arrive in Jo'burg the day befroe you're due to fly out, just in caseyou encounter any delays. Hope that's enough to get you started and let me know if you need any further information. Regards Cathy
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Thanks Cathy, that's really helpful advice! Much appreciated
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