Before traveling to Zimbabwe, I spent a week in Western Cape, and drove to Port Elizabeth. From there, I made an overnight trip to Addo national park before flying from PE to JNB and continue to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe on South African (Airlink). There aren't may pictures from this flight but I will try to find some and put up a trip report.
I flew to Bulawayo from JNB. Bulawayo Airport at the time only received flights from JNB, VFA, and HRE. VFA and HRE are served by UM on a triangle route. JNB is served by SA operated by Airlink. There may be a Durban flight now but that was not the case when I went.
After landing in BUQ, I first went to the UM office at the airport to purchase my flight to HRE. The cost was 115 USD and credit card was accepted. However the way the ticket was booked was funny… When I requested to purchase a flight, the only employee there whom I spoke to took my credit card and booked me a flight on a travel agent's website. He told me if he had booked using UM's own system, I'd have to pay in cash.
I asked to see if I can upgrade to first class since the cost is only $10 more, solely for the novelty of it. However the gentleman helping me told me he did not know how to do that.
Next up I went to Bulawayo train station to book my sleeper train to Victoria Falls. A few pictures of the train station.
Train schedule was handwritten on a chalkboard. The train to VFA is daily with a different platform used on Sundays. I had always wanted to go to Botswana by train, but could not obtain a visa easily.
The cost of my first class sleeper was $12. I was not expecting much comfort, but it turned out to be much nicer of a ride than the Yangon-Mandalay train ride I took a few years back, which costed triple the amount. Tickets are only sold 1 day before departure and reservations of sleeping berths were taken by hand, drawn onto a diagram. I really wanted to take a photo of the poorly made diagram, but decided against it thinking taking photo of others lack of advanced technology for my own amusement is probably rude.
(And of course we had to say hi to Mr. President)
After that we went to the Railway Museum
Some very old cars
And apparently this is how people got from the Victoria Falls hotel to the falls half a century ago
We met a museum worker, who was probably of retirement age and is of European descent. Most Europeans left the country in the years after independence and he was the only European local I had met throughout my week long stay in the country. Speaking with a very distinctive accent, he was more than enthusiastic and offered us a tour of all the old railway cars.
He had co-authored a book on the history of Rhodesia Railways, which we bought for $2. Very interesting book.
He did not want to pose for a photo when I requested, but signed our books and gifted us some stamped envelops from Zimbabwe's first participation in the 1984 Los Angles Olympics.
We stayed at the Bulawayo club, which was nice enough considering the location. It has a yesteryear feel. We were the only guests there.
The sketch paper provided by the club also belonged to another era, with telegraph address listed
Some pictures from the city. Its architecture reminded me of the Eritrean capital Asmara
We tried to go to Matobo National Park. However renting a car proved to be very difficult. We were also unsuccessful in finding a driver who wants to be hired for the day. Some minibus drivers offered to drop us off at the park entrance, but none were coming back the same day and could not tell us how we can flag a bus to come back. Having the train leaving in the evening we decided not to risk it.
First class lounge at the train station. No access on our $12 ticket.
I was hoping the train to be delayed by several hours so that we pass through Hwange National Park during daylight. However as often as that usually happens, it did not on the day we took the train. A bit disappointing but we arrived at the lovely Victoria Falls Hotel before noon.
Some pictures from the hotel. It's a very storied hotel and we decided to stay on the Zimbabwe side so we can stay at this hotel. This place, though expensive, was totally worth the money. People who work there are true old school hoteliers, not the ones who charge you $500 a night because they can at the location (eye rolls to some NYC/LON/MIA hotels)
I'm not British so I don't feel it is a big deal. But the Cape to Cairo idea is so prevalent here that almost every landmark has this… Definitely no one cares about this nowadays in Cairo
After dinner we returned to a nest over our beds
Some old BOAC posters
BOAC's route to Johannesburg during the colonial times. These were operated by seaplanes and therefore departure from Southhampton. I wonder where they landed the planes in Khartoum. In the White Nile?
Some pictures from the falls
Where David Livingstone first spotted the falls
The bridge connecting Zimbabwe to Zambia
We also went rafting (not pictured). Highly recommend.
We arrived at the airport 1 hour before our departure time. Zimbabwe does not allow photography at airports for some reason. So there's no picture of the terminal inside.
This is the new domestic terminal. It's a very basic generic building, probably built by the Chinese as it very closely resembles a new county level administrative building in China.
Boarding passes were hand written. The staff did not have computers. Our passports were taken and names checked against a hand written passenger list.
Baggage check was handwritten also. Not sure why there's a line of German (?) translation (did I mistake Afrikaans for German?)
The airport facility fee is payable upon check in
There was no jet bridge, which was good since I wanted a picture of one of UM's three only aircrafts (they fly a 767 HRE-JNB and a Chinese regional jet domestically in addition to this 737 - 200
The classic angle when boarding remote stand
The cabin. It shows its age and probably should be refurbished if they can
Waiting for takeoff
We were delayed due to ATC (really? In Zimbabwe?). Probably due to this military looking aircraft also taking off.
Taking off now
I was surprised that inflight magazine was available. Also the security information card
A beverage and snack was offered. Not sure if the US has sanctions against Zimbabwe so Coke products were unavailable. We were served some local nock off brand that resembles coke but a little bit off. Only had this happen to me in Cuba and Burma due to business sanctions by the US
Legroom and seat back. This seat looks like its about to explode
A few more cabin shots before landing
Landing - no pictures at Harare airport either. We had to pass through security and baggage screening on arrival like in many of the middle eastern airports. I still think it's a very strange idea.
Victoria Falls - VFA
Harare - HRE
The flight successfully got me to Harare to catch my KQ flight to NBO the next day. Traveling in this part of the world requires a lot of time and patience. However once successfully accomplished, the rewards are worth far more than the inconvenience from time to time. It's probably unlikely that I'd go back to Zimbabwe anytime soon but recommend a visit to anyone who happens to travel to the region. If you go, be sure to spend a few days outside of Victoria Falls.
3 LIKESLIKE TO THANK THE AUTHORTHANKS ! FLIGHT-REPORT LIKED
Flight-Report is a free website hosting more than 500 000 pictures and 17 000 reviews, without ads, this website can't exist. We understand that ads can be annoying, this is why we only display a maximum of 2 non-invasive ads per page.
To continue using Flight-Report, we invite you to add Flight-Report to your blocker's "white list".