My experiences of travelling in Zimbabwe 1996
- In no way is this information an accurate and up to date guide.
Always buy an up to date travel book for the countries you are visiting.
The photos on these Zimbawe pages were taken on disposable cameras
so in some cases the clarity etc. is decidely iffy. The subject matter is
not particulary exciting either as I couldn't really be bothered to keep
buying disposable cameras on my way round Zim after I was robbed in Jo'burg.
So, the last place I have a photographic record of, is Victoria Falls.
If you find this guide useful, please take time to sign my guestbook
I arrived at Shaka's Spear in Bulawayo on 29.1.96, a Sunday morning, I had
no washing or shaving equipment, no food and had resorted to wearing my
glasses all the time as my contact lenses were in the small rucksack which
was stolen in Johannesburg.
One of the first things I did when I got to Shaka's Spear was to go and
talk to Natalie, the owner's sister in law, who was the only senior staff
member around at the time. I told her my situation and asked for her to
bear with me when it came to anything financial! :-)
Luckily if you walk out of Shaka's Spear's front gate and turn right then
walk for 10 to 15 minutes up the road away from the city center you come
to a small shopping center. One shop in this center is open on Sundays,
I didn't have enough money to buy both food and all the washing stuff I
needed so I opted for rice, vegetables and toothpaste!
Unhygienically I found a not too worn toothbrush lying around Shaka's, I
only used it for one day! I borrowed some soap from an English guy named
Adam who was staying there. I could now have a shower and a shave after
four days of travelling.
237 Leopold Takiwira Avenue
Above is a photo of Shaka's Spear, not the best picture I've ever taken
but there you go. Despite appearances this is a large house which extends
a long way back, behind the house in a separate building is a big bar.
The house, which only caters for people with backpacks, is owned and run
by Karen. Her brother Mike together with a cool guy nicknamed Zuca run an
adventure travel outfit offering expeditions into the Matopo Hills and the
surrounding areas. Natalie, Mike's wife, together with Gavin run the bar.
If you do stay there watch out for Kienan, Mike's son, he's let's say, a
little hyperactive! The other staff at Shaka's are also really nice. Unfortunately
I can only remember one of their names, Primrose.
Luckily I had kept my Passport, travel insurance and some traveller's cheques
in my money belt, which I was wearing at the time of my mugging. I had a
photocopy of a street map of Bulawayo which had been given to me by an English
girl named Jesinta, who I had met at Jo'burg Railway Station just after
my mugging. This map showed where the local American Express Office was
so I knew where to go on Monday to cash some of my traveller's cheques.
I spent the rest of the day milling around in Shaka's Spear and thanks to
that chat I had with Natalie when I first arrived I spent some time in the
bar. I knew I would be spending a lot of time at Shaka's in the coming week
as I had to wait for some 'emergency money" which I was entitled to
as part of my credit card insurance, they were also stolen with my wallet
When I was planning my visit to Bulawayo I only intended spending 3 or 4
days there before catching the train to Victoria Falls. It turned out that
I was there for a week before catching the train. Most of the time just
hanging around Shaka's waiting for 'phone calls from England etc. I spent
the days I wasn't waiting for calls exploring the city, with my tattered
photocopied map, and going to the cinema a lot. Compared to England, Zim.
cinemas are dirt cheap and they have some current films. I remeber once,
I saw two films back to back for Z$10 which at the time was the equivalent
of 70 British Pence or US$1.1! OK, the films were a bit scratched and there
were pauses to change the reels but that was all part of the charm of travelling
in Africa as far as I was concerned.
Here are some more photos of Bulawayo, two are of a fountain in Centenary
Park and the other shows the view towards the city center down Leopold Takawira
This last one is nice because it shows the trees lining each side of
L. T. Av., this is a common feature of the streets in Bulawayo. It is very
nice during the day as it provides pedestrians with shade when walking the
streets, although at night the trees provide cover for anyone wanting to
jump out at you. What I did when walking the streets at night was to actually
walk along the sides of the roads, not on the pavements, that way you are
illuminated by the street lights and by passing cars.
A worthwhile atraction about 4 or 5 minutes walk down Leopold Takiwira Avenue
from Shaka's towards the city center in Centenary Park is Zimbabwe's Natural
It is run by the National Museums and Monuments
of Zimbabwe organisation. Admission prices depend on you being a Zimbabwean
or a citizen of another country, when I visited the museum I payed about
Z$35. There is a lot infomation to be learnt from a visit to this museum,
from the country's history and the roles played by the Ndebele,
formerley Matabele (traditionally from Matabeleland),
the Shona people and Cecil
Rhodes to copious amounts of infomation on Zimbabwe's flora and fauna.
Bulawayo is a nice relaxed city but if you like constant action it is not
for you. I was forced by circumstance to spend a week there and I liked
it. The next stop on my travels was Victoria Falls, I travelled there by
train from Bulawayo.
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Last Updated on 29th January 1998 at 08:54:17
All images ©1996 Ian Simmins
© 1996 Ian Simmins