The journey from Botswana to Zimbabwe would be by road, thankfully no more little planes. The transport picked me up and we drove through Kasane to pick up a British couple at their lodge. From there a quick twenty minute drive to the border all in the open air vehicle normally used for the safari tours. At the border we completed the exit from Botswana and then drove across to process the Zimbabwe entry. You need to pay for the entry visa and decide if you want a one time entry or multiple. As I was not sure if I would cross to Zambia side at Victoria Falls, I opted for multiple entry fee paid in US$. With entry visa in hand, we boarded the minibus to take us to Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side. The minibus seats sixteen so we had to wait for the other passengers to arrive from the various transit vehicles. Once aboard, we were given a bottle of water and the journey along a two lane paved road through a national park on either side began. The trip would take about two hours and I saw a few baboons along the way but other than that, tree, tree, dirt road, tree, you get the picture (this trip in the opposite direction is a standard tour offering if you are staying in Victoria Falls).
We finally slowed down and made a left toward town. The view changed to tree, tree, people walking, small building, tree. Once we arrived at the main hotel in town that most were staying, I was transferred to another van to make my way to my camp. I would be staying at Elephant Camp. I had found the property online and was looking forward to the decadence of the property (from the photos on line my tent had its own pool) and the opportunity to do the elephant safari ride at sunrise. The camp cost a bit more than I really wanted to know about or admit to (ignorance is bliss!)- once you add the cost into the package price and don’t itemize it, it all seems affordable.
A ten minute ride out of town, passing villagers selling items along the road in the market set up and seeing children leaving school in their uniforms, it seemed like any town going about their day. Along the highway, there was nothing on either side to look at other than the brown dried landscape I was used to in Botswana. We stopped to make a left and were met at the gates by guards who found my name on the list and allowed us entry into the reserve. Driving on the bumpy road, I wondered if we should be in a smaller vehicle to get through the dirt road. We kept driving and I saw nothing and wondered where the heck I was going. I then saw Sylvester in the back of a truck, he is the famous house cat I will expand on later.
We then pulled up to a few large tents, one the gift shop (there’s always a gift shop!) and the main reception tent. I was met by the fabulous Jonathan, the energetic property manager, accompanied by a waiter with a welcome drink. I had a vision of Fantasy Island when guests would meet Mr. Roarke when they arrived and be transported to live out their fantasies. I could already tell this was going to be a very different experience upon entering the main reception tent……
Have you had an amazing first impression of a hotel during your travels? Ever envision that the only person missing was Tattoo and that this was a fantasy stay? Tell me about it so I can add it to my list of special places to visit.