Last year while in Zimbabwe for my son’s wedding I had the chance to visit a number of orphanages. A large percentage of the Zimbabwe population have AIDS so there is an extraordinary high number of orphans. One of the orphanages we visited was the “Voice of Peace” in Hatcliffe, they currently have almost 50 orphans living in extremely poor conditions, almost half have AIDS. When we first arrived the orphans were very depressed and quite. My wife and myself were quite upset at their condition. Suzanne, the young lady that was showing us around the orphanages just embraced the children, giving them hugs and kisses, fed them with fresh fruit and then involved them in games. The transformation was surreal, this photo I believe captures a moment of happiness in the midst of despair. I hope that this image might encourage to make a donation for the Zimbabwe Orphanages.
Keep photocopies of your passport and travel documents in your luggage.
Use a water purifier, I used a Steripen brilliant.
If travelling make sure you have a knowledgeable guide.
If fuel is not available at the service station, check the local pub etc. as there is a black market in fuel.
If buying diesel buy in clear containers so you can check for contamination.
Take your own toilet paper everywhere.
Take tissues, a packet of wet wipes and hand sanitizer.
Men buy a suitable hand bag for your travel papers and guard it well.
Take a camera but don’t photograph police, army, government buildings etc.
Take iodine in a small bottle, great antiseptic for cuts etc. and can be used in an emergency to purify water.
Take a suitable power adaptor.
Don’t rely on the power to charge your camera, phones etc. have a 12V backup.
Don’t forget your personal medicines, headache tablets etc. and have a copy of a letter from your doctor to say the medicines are necessary.
Get all the necessary vaccinations including rabies, the monkeys can be vicious, they tried to bite me a couple of times , our guide chased them away, but they turned on him and chased him back, was very funny to watch.
Don’t put valuables into your checked luggage.
If your carry-on luggage is over weight, especially with camera gear, wear a camera vest or coat with big pockets so you can put lens etc into the pockets if needed. Our carry on luggage was never weighed, I practiced making my camera backpack look very light.
Make sure that you always have your car keys with you, do not put them in your checked luggage.
Most important have travel insurance and read the fine print as I found a lot of policies don’t cover travel to Zimbabwe.
Pay for travel with a Gold VISA card if you can as the free travel insurance can be better than your paid insurance (have both paid and VISA insurance).
We spent 2 weeks in Zim, Travelled with my wife, Glenys and two sons, Wade and Kirk, the first week was with our soon to be new family members, our other son Eric was to be married in a few days To Varie. During the first week we visited a number of orphanages with the long term aim to raise some much needed funds. Zimbabwe has about 94% unemployment and has just been through massive inflation, some reports say as high as 200,000,000%. They have now switched to US$ and there is food in the shops once again. There was fortification everywhere, razor wire, spikes or glass embedded into concrete walls, it was at first quite off-putting, but we found the people to be so friendly and really great fun to be with, I actually felt much safer in the streets of Harare at night than I do in Melbourne. The wedding was great, 300 to 400 people (hard to count as there was much coming and going). It was a double wedding, Varie and her sister were married to Eric and Bruce. I was the official photographer. This was my first wedding I don’t normally photograph people, I’m more of a product, commercial, landscape type photographer. It was a real challenge but all worked out great with the assistance of our lodge manager as the second shooter. Varie’s sister had also hired a local photographer to cover their side of the wedding.
The second week and we were on safari with A.C.T.S. We spent 3 nights at Antelope Park then on to Hwange National Park for a further 2 nights staying nearby at Miombo Lodge an then on to Victoria falls for 2 nights. Managed to get some great game shots, people, landscapes etc.
Zimbabwe is a great place to see, not many tourist, friendly people and there is much need for your tourist dollar. Just be careful and make sure you have a good guide. I will post some more info on our adventure soon.