Last time we visited London, we landed just behind a plane from Africa. Every person was given a thorough check by the immigration people and we took nearly two hours to clear immigration. Today, Africa turned the tables on the west, but more of that later.
I had a flight to Victoria Falls this morning which was very comfortable and pleasant. We took off to the north and had a stunning view across to the city of Johannesburg out of the left of the plane. It only took less than ninety minutes to reach Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
As we flew, it would have been very easy to think that we were flying over central Australia. The landscape was a flat plateau which was interrupted by a number of low ridges and mountain ranges. The land was the same red / brown colour with occasional wriggly water courses edged with darker trees. Every now and then a dead straight road disappeared into the haze as it headed across the landscape towards the horizon. I’m sure that we flew over some part of the Okavango Delta.
We arrived at Victoria Falls Airport right on time at 12:40 pm and that’s where Africa ( or at least Zimbabwe) got it’s revenge. The queue for those people that had to pay for a visa (almost all of the western passengers) extended out the door of the three desk immigration area and onto the Tarmac. Each person was asked why they were coming to Zimbabwe – the answer was never to do business. Then a fee of $US30 was paid and a receipt handwritten with the immigration officer keeping a carbon copy. Then the next man behind the desk wrote out a single entry visa with two carbon copies, stamped both the visa and receipts multiple times and finally waved you through to pick up your bag from the plane which by then had already returned to Johannesburg.
Two hours to clear a plane full of people was an ordeal! I read this morning that the GDP of Zimbabwe is $180 pp (compared with Australia’s $37,900. I just contributed one sixth of an individual’s contribution to GDP! if I was a Englishman or Irishman it would have been worse at $US65 and even worse for Canadians at $US90. They must have done more somehow to offend the Zimbabweans.
I finally ended up on a shuttle bus with a big Spanish tour group who were dropped off at the very quaint colonial style Victoria Falls Hotel. I’m at a more modern resort a few kilometers out of town. It overlooks a large waterhole and it will be interesting to sit at the open bar at sunset and see what range of wildlife comes down to drink.
Tomorrow I have a relatively busy day. I start at 8:15 with a two-hour tour of the falls. At 11:00 am I have booked a short helicopter flight and then at 3:30 pm I’m off on a river cruise along the Zambezi River. I’m looking forward to it.