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Experiencing Zimbabwe

In search of the good bits of Robins Camp at Hwange National Park

Gill Staden, eTN  Mar 02, 2010

We were on our way back to Livingstone from Nata. Rather than go over the ferry at Kazungula, we decided to take the road through Zimbabwe to Robins Camp, Hwange, and then to Victoria Falls Town the following day.

From Elephant Sands Lodge it is 150 km to Pandamatenga. After filling up with fuel and food, we headed for the border. The Botswana side was efficient and friendly. The Zimbabwe side was half-and-half. There was no one in the post. We waited, and some gents arrived to do the essential stamping of documents. Neither of them was in uniform; the immigration officer had attitude. But, there had not been anyone through the border for a couple of days, so I suppose they were just getting frustrations and boredom out of their system.

We left the border, a Botswana tar road taking us there, and then we met the Zimbabwe road - what a shocker - it was no more than a track and not a good one at that. But for us it was fun.

It became more fun when later we saw a lioness walking along the road in front. We got close, too, because she sat down in the long grass by the side of the road, which gave us a good photo opportunity, and then settled down for a snooze.

We trundled along the road, not seeing much but high grass, finally arriving at the entrance to Hwange National Park. My car did one of its usual tricks and refused to start. I opened the bonnet; I donā€™t know much, but I knew what caused this stoppage, and soon we were on the road again. Not far, 12 km in fact, we reached Robins Camp.

We opted for a chalet instead of putting up the tent as the cost was not much different, and we were a bit fed up with the putting up of tents.

Having unloaded the car, we took off for a Big Safari - it lasted about half an hour, because the sky opened and rather put a damper on things. Oh well, it is the rainy season, after all.

It continued to rain, making it impossible to light a fire for cooking a meal, so we sat on the little veranda, ate some cold food from tins, and watched the rain drip off the roof. We decided on an early night.

The chalets at Robins are clean and tidy, but they can get a bit stuffy. There is no mosquito netting on the window,s so they remained closed. I had read one of the comments in the visitorsā€™ book about the stuffy rooms. The writer had commented that he found the rooms hot, had opened the door, but a hyena had come visiting. I opted for keeping the door closed.

The following morning was bright and sunny, but it had rained a lot during the night and we decided against going for another big safari. I took a walk around Robins. It is in a bit of a sad state. The officers are trying their best to keep it looking neat and tidy, but they obviously have little money for maintenance; things are beginning to look in need of repair. Also they love to sweep, so with the sweeping and rain erosion, the foundations of the buildings are becoming exposed, and the walls are beginning to crack.

After packing the car, we took a slow drive back through the park and Matetsi Safari area and on to the main Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road, a journey of around 120 km. We didnā€™t rush, because it was very pretty; the flowers, trees, and shrubs still in flower.

I really must go to Robins Camp again; this time in the dry season. I have yet to do a tour of the area, and I know it is reputed to be extremely good. And I want to see the good bits.

In search of the good bits of Robins Camp at Hwange National Park
Chalet at Robins Camp / Photo by Gill Staden, eTN

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