Posted by: Larzizou | January 2, 2008

Matobo Park, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Because of political instability and the consequential hardships incurred by tourists in Zimbabwe, half of the overland companies bypass it. By now (that is, after having read the Antelope Park and Lake Kariba posts), you should realize it’s a shame.

Another reason to go to Zimbabwe is because there is no better country to feel like a billionaire. For a twenty-dollar bill, I was handed a thick wad of 200 000 (Zimbabwean) dollar bills. For a US dollar, you approximately get a million (on the black market). This is even more stunning considering 5 000 Zimbabwean dollar bills were still printed and circulating less than 18 months ago.

This is our next stop.

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I know that I am repeating myself but Zimbabwe is really beautiful.

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This unusual alignment of stones is one of many examples. Even staring at them, it is hard to believe the stones had been holding and not moved from times immemorial

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The park shelters…black and white rhinos, with their invaluable horns. They can cost up t a few hundred thousand US dollars a piece. That is why even though the shot-to-kill policy is severely enforced in the national paks (even by the licensed hunters), poachers still try their chance. You have been warned.

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Obviously, rhinos can be very dangerous. Here again, guidelines must be followed. Andy, our extremely knowledgeable and passionate hunter-guide feeds us with his many stories. One of them involves rich, young and body-guarded Bulgarians paying up to 200 000 USD for the privilege to shoot down an elephant…and have it skinned. Gruesome.

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When he was 19, he went to the jungle and lived there with indigenous tribes for two years. That changed his life. When he came back, filled with knowledge, he was hired as a guide but would not speak easily. He eventually adjusted but that almost cost him his job.

The best sit the jeep offers.

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Slowly walking in line was required. If you wonder why I have a stupid (and inconvenient as hell under the heat) hood on my head , it’s because flies kept flying around our heads by dozens.

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We get incredibly close to the rhinos. Not further than a few meters. We proceed very carefully as even though we benefit from Andy’s 25 year experience, the animals are unpredictable. They look mean too.

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The rifle is essential. We later learn from somebody else that years ago, a family Andy was accompanying in a safari got decimated and that since then, he does not hesitate to shoot.

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Protecting the babies.

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During the second walk, while we are sitting staring at the rhinos, the biggest seems to take interest in us, and makes a step, then a second toward us. Andy’s finger on the rifle is ready to shoot. We are scared beyond words.

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He’s getting closer, we’re slowly walking back.

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But the rhinos lose interest and Andy does not shoot.

Now a video.

After the adrenalin comes bushmen art (dates from approximately 26 000 years ago) …

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…and the visit of a tiny village.

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We are invited to the village dean´s hut. He is 77, partly of Scottish descent, married, has 4 living children out of 13 (the others died from AIDS) and is quite a character.

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He killed the puma whose skin is now his dress with a spear and his bare hands in 1955. It cost him an eye and bad bruises.

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We then attend a dance show…

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I try to partake but I am rather mediocre…

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…but how can you compete when even two year old master the art!

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