Walking in the Zambezi Valley barefoot in the rainy season

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Just got back from 4 glorious days in the valley between Christmas and new year at RIFA camp just upstream from Chirundu. We had 92mm of rain the day we arrived and the second half of our party arriving the next day had to leave their car at Jecha point and get ferried to Rifa by Nick and Iona who run Jecha Point. This was all arranged in typical Zim fashion at short notice and without any hastle . Solid bunch of people.

Many people shy away from the valley in the rainy season and I must admit we didn’t see much game as it had dispersed inland with all the rain. As always, though, the Valley surprised us and the lack of game made it safer for our party which included the young at heart as well as the just plain young to dispense with shoes and wallow in glorious mud. The morning after the big rains found the RIFA hot springs flooded with brown water at just a safe enough depth to exclude crocs. This gave us 100m of muddy supertube and hours of fun were had running upstream and then drifting back down in the stream down in various creative ways.

We heard lions every night and in the mornings, the kids planted their bare footprints over lion spoor that had been left only a few hours before. A solitary Hyena snuck into camp in the dead of one night and Hooped once loudly before sneaking off again. The seasonal lack of big game made us look carefully at the flowers and small things. We saw many beautiful bush plants and flowers that appear to be just dry sticks in August. We located a black Arum lily plant and observed Mopane bees in their hives. The macro lens came out for the velvet mites but the pic of a tiny pipistrelle bat on a mopane leaf was captured best by the cellphone camera!

All it all, much fun was had in the mud for the team who’s ages spanned 7 to 70. Thanks Zambezi, you did it again, walking in the valley always throws up surprises


A strategy for handling Police Roadblocks in Zimbabwe

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Police roadblocks are pretty common in Zimbabwe and can make road-tripping a time-consuming experience. It appears to me that some people suffer more than their fair share whilst others manage to dance through roadblocks most of the time without too much hassle. It got me thinking if some of this might not be related to different strategic approaches to ZRP roadblocks. I have never had much problems with them myself, so here are some strategies that I reckon may have helped me. They might be worth a try (if nothing else they are games you can play in your own mind):

Get in the right head space…. sounds a bit Zen but you are on holiday now, try see the journey as part of the holiday. Somehow the ZRP can sense if you are in a hurry or stressed. My rule is, as I cross Beitbridge, I switch to Africa time and try adjust my mindset accordingly. Best do it quickly because within 2km you will find your first roadblock.

Obey the laws….our website outlines the requirements in terms of paperwork and equipment, make sure you have everything and it is accessible. Observe and obey speed limits and the rules of the road.

Time your approach speed…. slow enough to be respectful, but fast enough to appear self-assured and preferably just fast enough to  be difficult to stop. The optimum approach speed is difficult to judge but about 40km/h is generally about right. Often you will be waved through because you are halfway through anyway!

When you do get stopped:

Own the conversation….most Southern African languages have a greeting ritual of question and response, you can use this to your advantage. Stop the car, turn down the radio, wind down the window and greet the policeman first with a cheery but respectful “Good morning officer”. You have started the conversation politely and now the obligation is on them to respond to your greeting. When he/she does, ask another question, any question will do, I usually go with “Is this the right road to Cairo?”, this usually brings some humor to the situation and he will explain that you may be a little off track. Keep asking questions,  “how far is Karoi”, “what condition is the road?” “hows the rainy season been?” . Nine times out of ten the whole thing degenerates into a friendly conversation and they will wave you off with a smile – it would be rude to end it any other way.

If the worst comes to the worst and you do end up being asked for a bribe, try play dumb and ignore the hints and keep chatting around the issue until they realize that you have plenty of time to talk and they will invariably wave you on your way eventually.

Mana Pools Zimparks Tarrifs

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Zimparks tariffs can be hard to work out remotely, we have compiled a summary of Zimparks tarifs to help you with estimating costs for your self-drive trip. Manapools.com are registered bookings agents and can check availability and book on your behalf, we follow up your enquiry in person and collect permits for you. Simply fill out & email the below form to ant@manapools.com 

Please note that as of 1 Jan 2018, Zimparks has done away with the discount previously offered to SADCC residents and reverted to a 2-tier pricing model Foreign vs Local residents.

We also offer supported Arrive & Drive trips from Harare & Vic Falls as well as Kariba Ferry Bookings: