Our first full Zimbabwe safari season draws to a close as the much-needed rains set in, transforming the bush to a verdant jungle and the soil to a muddy quagmire, keeping all but the bravest souls confined to paved-roads for the next few months. We are glad to have met so many great people this year and helped you experience Zim to the full. Our country continues to be Africa’s best kept secret as well as one of her safest, most beautiful & unspoiled destinations despite what we hear in the news. It turns out there is still many times more water flowing over Vic Falls every second than London uses and Lake Kariba remains almost 300km long despite being “almost empty” from an electricity generation point of view. We are sure the press will move along to the next story soon enough and leave unspoiled Zim to the better informed. Thanks for keeping the crowds away guys! We have noticed a pattern of first-time guests often arriving a little anxious about the Fuel, Currency and Safety situation, but always leaving the most relaxed people in the world having seen for themselves that Zim is full of kind-hearted people who much prefer solving problems to making them.
Arrive & Drive 4×4 Safaris.. Our Vehicles have performed well this year and we are confident our model of pre-planning & pre-paying accommodation remains the best way to travel Zim. Our network of Fuel Suppliers has expanded nationwide and has proved very reliable (it’s all about contacts!). The introduction of our windshield-mounted Smartphones on the vehicles loaded with Fuel Contact #’s nationwide, Ecocash (mobile money) and Maps.me Navigation has helped a lot. Anyone want to buy some second-hand Garmins? We continue to tweak our equipment offering with the option of Solar showers now for Chitake guests. We would be interested to hear your opinions on us providing sleeping bags (I always thought it best clients bring their own?). We are doubling up our 4×4 fleet for 2020 with our new Pajeros already on the ground and clearing customs in Harare (very slowly!!!). Costa and I will be busy kitting them out over Christmas for the busy season ahead. Mana & Chitake remain our most popular destinations but more and more clients are including lesser-known destinations such as Chizarira, Gonarezhou, Chimanimani & Bvumba. Our NEW WEBSITE showcases these other great Zim options a bit more clearly.
Meanwhile, in Harare… At Sunbird Guest House, we continue to upgrade our facilities with our funky new Co-Working/Entertainment areas almost ready (just awaiting delivery of the tables!). Our Solar and Borehole systems are working well and we are having fun converting our gardens to indigenous, bird/birder-friendly & water-wise. We get visits from a pair of Meyer’s Parrots on a daily basis now and hope to attract more water birds to our natural rock pond which drains rain-water from the thatch to replenish the adjacent wetland. We have planted a wide range of indigenous grasses and trees at Sunbird (including 3 Baobabs!) which are growing furiously in the rich soil and the place will look like the bush by the end of the rainy season for sure (baobabs may take a bit longer!).
Zim in General… The formal economy continues to battle with 18-hour power cuts, long fuel queues and currency/inflation challenges. However, the people show great resourcefulness and resilience and the community remains intact. Times will be tough until the next harvest comes in and many will live on a single meal a day, yet begging is rare and people are industrious. Everyone is try to make or sell something, please support these people when you see them selling stuff in the streets, they are trying to make an honest living. Despite the situation, Banks, Supermarkets and Government offices still give preference to pensioners who move to the front of queues without complaint from others as the culture maintains one of respect for the elderly. People generally have respect for each other and themselves and it is our firm belief that Zimbabweans will eventually address their own problems and progress economically, we just hope the country doesn’t lose it’s Zim-ness when this happens….
Our 2019 client pictures say it all, herewith some client memories made this year:
To all our 2019 clients and partners, it was great getting to know you all, we know we will see you again soon (now that you have caught the incurable “Valley Fever”!). To our upcoming 2020 clients, we look forward to meeting you and assure you that you will love this place and these people. It just requires a bit of local knowledge to do it right….
Ant, Costa, Sally & the Team