You seem to have most things sorted. My suggestion is that when you leave Masvinga continue heading east towards Mutare via Birchenough Bridge. Mutare is on the edge of the escarpment which looks down onto Mozambique, and you will be in some great biking country. Leaving Mutare head towards Nyanga and where is a great old colonial place, TheTrout Beck Inn to stay at. Somewhat reminiscent of areas in Scotland / Ireland.
This route is longer and more interesting than taking the direct route from Masvinga to Harare but is well worth it more so as you are not pressed for time.
If you can get on the ferry, especially the Sea Lion, it is a great experience and takes about 23 hours from Kariba to Mlibizi. From here the road brings you out almost opposite one of the entrance to Hwange National Park. Well worth a visit if you can cadge a lift in.
From there it is an easy ride towards Vic Falls.
PS. your wet ride through the pans etc. was great and another reason why, when we met in Swakopmund why I supported your decision i.r.o. smaller bikes.
Continue to live the dream.
Hope you are well!
I was hoping you would chime in. Thanks! I just emailed the ferry company and unfortunately they are shut until the 31st March as its too quiet to run at the moment. Damn shame! Was looking forward to it since you mentioned it in Swakopmund!
Great Pics and great story
Already excited to hear more about Zimbabwe and your traveling process ...
when you're at Vic-Falls and search for accomodation, try "Shoestrings backpackers" or "Victoria Falls backpackers" - think it's affordable and nice ... Will also be at Vic-Falls in March, maybe we can meet there if you have time? Would be cool
Enjoy your trip!!
Greetings from Lennart, Tutta and Patricia :-)
Hey :)Thanks for the tip! I should be there at the same time if everything goes to plan. Shoestrings looks nice. I heard from Anica said that you're all going to be there. WIll be cool to see you all again
just found an interesting link and read something about Lake Kariba and the Kariba Ferry Service - sounds interesting. Don't know if you already know that page
Maybe you can just check: http://www.afrizim.com/Houseboats/Kariba-Ferry.asp
- might be interesting for you as well
Bon Voyage and take care
Yes, Thanks. Chris mentioned this a while ago. See above
If you are at Vic Falls and you want to stay at the Zambian side, please go to Maramba Lodge. All the bikers stay there and the management couple Ruth and Brad will give you an excellent deal.
I can really recommend it and it is only about 1 km from the falls on the banks of the Maramba River.
Will check it out.
---Kilometers so far 14,000.
I visited the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo
. Entrance was $5 and well worth spending an hour or two. Next I visited the National Art Gallery and got chatting to some local artists for a few hours. Very interesting conversation and we went for a couple of beers at the roof top Horizon bar in town. Nice place with a pool overlooking Bulawayo. Beers were $1.50. Not bad at all!
I also got chatting to the girl who worked at the art gallery cafe and mentioned how I was interested in obtaining some Zim dollars as a souvenir and she kindly brought some in the next day including a 10 trillion dollar note. After having some coffee and early lunch I headed off to Masvingo. After about 33 km's I was checking my speedo and it suddenly zeroed out my speed. Something to fix when I got some time.
300 km's or so later I arrived in Masvingo where I checked into the Backpackers rest. It's not even really a backpackers but more of a crappy hotel. Its a dirty nasty place so stay at the ruins themselves as it's cheaper and better in almost every way. Anyway I paid $25 for a poor excuse of a room and couldn't wait to check out.
About 30 km's south of Masvingo are the Great Zimbabwe
ruins. On the way I came across yet another burned out car. There seems to be a lot of these littering the sides of the roads.
I paid $10 to get into the park and started to make my way up towards the Hill Complex.
I kept coming across these weird creatures. No idea what they are ?
Some of the entrances to the Hill Complex
Here's whats on the top.
The walls were up to 5 meters tall and have used no mortar.
The view from the top is impressive :
Here's one taken with my GoPro looking out in the other direction.
Also the lake in the distance.
I took a walk down to the great enclosure and the Shona village.
I spent roughly two hours exploring the ruins and wish I had stayed there rather than in the crappy Backpackers Rest in Masvingo. I think I remember the price of accommodation being about $20 for a single chalet at the ruins.
After leaving the ruins I headed towards Mutare after the recommendation from Chris (1up4adv). At about the halfway point I crossed the old Birchenough bridge. They have banned heavy vehicles as I think the bridge is a bit worse for wear.
Zimbabwe's eastern highlands have some awesome scenery. A real nice change from the flat lands of Namibia and Botswana. Lots of nice twisty roads and peaks with awesome views. Perfect biking country. The photo's and video I took doesn't really do it justice.
When I arrived in Mutare I went straight to Ann Bruce Backpackers
. I was welcomed by Ann who has been running the place forever it seems. Its her residential house right in town with 4-5 rooms converted into doubles triples and dorms from $15 per night. A very comfortable and chilled out place to be. Ann is very sociable and full of stories and advice. A great place to get some down time. In fact I spent the last 6 nights there!
Now I had some time I started to look at the speedo problem and soon figured out I had snapped my speedo cable. It had rusted. Probably from the Makadikadi pans crossing. I headed off into town and found two! bike shops. I managed to pick up a replacement for $18. Whilst in the bike shop I came across these Chinese GY3 bikes.
This 125cc was $1750.
This 200cc was $2250. I wonder what the quality is like on these bikes... I would be interested to see a long trip done on one of these.
The second bike shop offered repairs and services. Its nice to see that bikes are more popular in Zimbabwe than they have been in Botswana and Namibia. I had a chat with the guys and they offer a full service for $80. I'm not in need of one for another couple of thousand km's so I didn't bother.
They had 3 XL 200's in for work which is essentially what the CTX 200 is but with less protection and racks.
Whilst staying at Ann's I met a really interesting guy called Steve who used to live in Mutare and he was back meeting up with old school friends and generally being nostalgic about the place. He offered to give me and a backpacker called Emily a lift with him up to Bvumba as he was planting a tree on behalf of another ex-Rhodesian. We thought this was a nice idea so Emily and I bought tree's too.
First we visited the Ornamental gardens ($10 entry) which were still open but not the Tea rooms.
After a wrong turn we managed to backtrack and visit Leopards Rock Hotel. According to Steve the semi-circular balcony was built especially for the Queen and mother. We had some tea and lunch on the other balcony for a very reasonable price.
This is the residence of the former owners which was up on the hill overlooking the hotel. Apparently it was fire bombed during the fighting.
Finally we got round to planting our tree's. We found a nice place near a school that had a good view and wasn't to enclosed by other plants. I have the exact GPS location so it would be interesting to see if they took hold in 10 years or so.
We carried on down a dirt track closer to the school and there was an amazing view point overlooking Mozambique. Steve was asked by a another friend back in the UK to get a photo as this was the place she got engaged.
I finally got round to installing the new cable. I imagine that had I been near a Honda dealership it should still be under warranty. Hopefully when I get back to SA I will get a proper Honda one installed. The aftermarket one I used is about 15 cms longer and isn't so water tight but I made it so with some duct tape. I did take the speedo apart to see if I could add on the 700 or so Km's that were missing since it broke but its all pretty well locked in which is understandable as it should't be easy to manipulate the mileage. I will see if Honda can do it for me as i liked being able to see and show people my total km's so far without having to add 700 on each time.
I'm not sure I mentioned it before but my laptop finally gave up in Botswana. I think the motherboard is at fault as even known good hard drive's (my original suspect for the problems) were causing it top just power down randomly until eventually it just didn't switch on. I bought a new one (Lenovo G500) for 3500 pula in Gaborone. Although its a bit bigger its important I have one so I can continue to work and write these ride reports of course!
I had been lugging round the old one but I finally got some time to get rid of it and sold it to laptop repair shop for $40. Result! I was sorry to see it go mostly because of all the stickers I had accumulated on my travels (including a wild dog one) but I took a photo before I let it go :
A couple of days later I decided to take a day trip to Nyanga national park via the Honde valley.
I passed Redwing Mine.
Beautiful rock formations on the way.
I took the non tar roads into the Honde Valley and fortunatelt it hadn't been raining too much as this mud was still quite slippery in places.
I passed lots of home steads as the valley began to come into view.
The Honde Valley. The photo's don't really do the view justice. You can see the road on the right and the two waterfalls on the left. An awesome twisty drive.
A zoom in on the waterfalls.
I stopped off at the Rhodes Hotel and ate some local trout for lunch. $15. not bad
I finally made it to Nyanga National Park a bit later than I had hoped and paid my $10 entrance fee. Below is possible one of the worst maps I've come across. Its so vague, and looking at my GPS trace of the trip, not much like the actual shape or distance of the roads.
I was on the circular drive around the park and at its farthest point is Mount Nyangani
which is highest peak in Zimbabwe. A visitor went missing up there last month
and still hasn't been found.
The road isn't so great. Wouldn't fancy doing it even in a 4x4. Fine on the bike of course
Towards the end of the circular drive is Udu Dam. There's a guy fishing in the middle. Lots of trout I expect.
Here's a picture of Emma, her daughter Deborah and an Angolan student also staying at Ann Bruce Backpackers
Whilst in Mutare I noticed a vinyl graphics shop around the corner of the backpackers. Its the place that all the mini van's get their bizarre graphics done. Things like "2 Bad 2 Fail" or "4WD OVERDRIVE" or whatever put on the side of their buses. I was chatting to Costa the Cypriot owner and he got one of his girls to make a union jack flag and my "whereisjames.com" website address. Only cost $5 and looks pretty cool I thought!
After being in Mutare for 6 days I decided to head to Chimanemane as I had heard from several people how nice it is. It's an awesome 150 km ride of great twisty roads and impressive vista's over the valleys. Great motorbiking country. I'm currently staying at The Farmhouse
for $20 a night. Its one of the oldest buildings still standing in Chimanimani.Kilometers so far 15,100.