Excitement on the road to Zimbabwe - we got a flat tyre on the truck! But it was sorted out really quickly and didn't hold us up very long. We got our Zim dollars and we all became instant multi-millionaires. The money out here really is ridiculous (US$1 = Z$155,000 - 200,000 depending on where you change it) and people walk around with huge wads of notes. We stopped at a shopping centre and I bought drinks and snacks which came to Z$1,900,000.00!
First night in Zim we stayed at a nice backpackers place and again upgraded to dorms. Only thing is there were toads in the showers that came out of the plug holes when you ran the water! Bit of a fright for Selena who found the first one when it jumped onto her foot! One came out in my shower too but I only noticed it sitting there as I was getting dried so I'm not sure at what point it hopped out.
Next night we stayed at a campsite next to Lake Kariba, called Warthogs, where we ditched the tents in favour of A-frame huts. They have a hippo who often comes through the campsite at night to feed. There are also elephants and zebras and other wild animals roaming around - not keen to meet any of them in the middle of the night though. We could hear the noises of hippos in the morning and they sounded pretty close, but we couldn't see them through the bushes.
The next few days we spent on a houseboat on Lake Kariba. It was brilliant fun. The boat was really cool and had 2 floors with the cabins, showers, toilets and kitchen on the bottom floor and the dining area and sunbathing place upstairs... a few of us also slept upstairs next to the captains chair and steering wheel. The cool thing was we had a hot tub on board too! although it was really just filled with lake water and didn't get that hot as it was just heated by the sun - but it was really nice to hop into and cool off when the sun got too hot - which it seemed to do every day.
We cruised around the lake and saw hippos and crocodiles, then when we were in the deeper waters (safe from big animals) we could jump off the side of the boat into the lake and cool off. The boys did all kinds of back flips and somersaults and belly flops. We did a few activities too but nothing too strenuous - the choice was either game walking or fishing and we each did both a few times. The game walk was fun. Our guide was called James and he wore a leather hat like Indiana Jones and had a big gun with bullets in his belt (no whip though!) Glad he was there and we felt safe. We got to see elephants, hippos, zebra, impalas, buffalos, a kingfisher and also saw where elephants scratch on trees and followed the tracks of different animals, saw the poo etc. We saw the most enormous rainbow I've ever seen and the whole place was beautiful. We could hear thunder and see lightening in the distance but we managed to escape the rain.
You get a really good view of the stars from the top deck of the boat because there are no lights nearby and we tried to keep the lights on the boat to a minimum because they attracted a serious amount of flies, moths and mossies! It was pretty noisy at night because there were so many frogs and insects making a real racket that it was hard to sleep. Also the boat was rocking quite a bit and the small boat attached to us (for fishing etc) kept banging against the side all night. Amy and Cec who were in the cabin nearest to it were thinking it was the hippos and crocs rubbing up against our boat and trying to get them!
The next day I did the fishing and we could either use worms to try and catch bream, or we could use small fish to try and catch tiger fish. (The night before, Fox caught a tiger fish and Kathy caught a bream but just a really small one.) Lisa was great and managed to catch 9 bream (small) and finallly Ben caught a decent sized one but no-one else caught any tiger fish and that night we ate fox's for dinner, along with the meal we had planned. It was great because although we did the shopping for food as usual, there was a cook on the boat (called Robson) who prepared all the food for us - we just gave him the ingredients and told him how we wanted it - fab!
There was a baboon that came and sat on the shore next to our boat for a few hours and he was there the next morning too. At one point when he went down to the waters edge, Fox and Kutch were hoping that they might see a crocodile make an attack - but the baboon was safe.
We left the houseboats and went back to Harare, and it was Selena and Ben's last night with us as they left the tour here. We were back in the same backpackers and in the same dorm so it was nice to all be together... Ben wore his special Tiger Shirt that he had literally bought off some blokes back at the market in Mzuzu for about $2.50 and it was hilarious because he blended in so well to the curtains in our dorm you could barely see him (see photo). We also had dinner cooked for us there so that was great... then the drinking began and we had a hilarious night of karaoke in the bar. There was also a free pool table, so much fun was had by all. Kate and Me were the last ones of our group to leave the bar (that karaoke is addictive once you start - especially when you've had a few drinks) - only Billy (our driver) and another guy called VJ were still standing but they went to bed soon after us.