I was lucky enough to travel round the beautiful, world-weary southern African state of Zimbabwe in the summer (which was the southern hemisphere winter!).
The purposes of the trip were several – to research ex-Rhodesian (“British South African”) Police Land Rovers, to find Series Land Rovers for my friend Mark to potentially buy, to visit my Series One “Black Pearl” and see the progress of her rebuild – and finally to explore a country that was new to me!
I flew into Harare (which was once Salisbury) and then Mark collected me for a seven-hour drive to Bulawayo, which was to be our base for the week. We’d borrowed a Freelander 2 for the trip, which was to prove an able and capable car – smooth and fast and comfortable on the road, and perfectly able to deal with rough tracks, soft sand and rocky climbs when off it.
In Bulawayo I met my Series One pickup, the Black Pearl. She’s had a partial rebuild, of the engine, but currently needs brakes and transmission sorting before I drive her north through Africa in 2020. So she’s stored in Bulawayo, up on bricks to prevent her tyres deteriorating
I’m very pleased with her – a predictable lack of rust, bodywork very straight and in general in very good order considering she’s around 70 years old!
From Bulawayo we went on a quest to find Series Ones and Twos dotted around old farmsteads in the Zimbabwean hinterland. There are many, and my friend Mark wanted to find as many as he could to potentially buy. We found several, many in very good order and still operational.
Mark negotiates the price of a Series 2a with Rhodesia-specific modifications
A battered Series 2 still in everyday use on a small farm
A late Series One – a 109″ on a farm south of Bulawayo – again, a daily driver. However, inside it was a surprise…..
A fully loaded AK-47 magazine left over from the civil war. However that wasn’t the end of it. The magazine was booby-trapped, and would have killed anyone who fitted it to a rifle and tried to fire it.
Our perambulations continued……
We visited Hwange National Park, a huge expanse of bush and savannah. Being the winter there had been some rain, although not very much; in fact the country was suffering from what was fast turning into a drought.
At Nyamandlovhu Pan we saw a large family of elephants come to drink
From Hwange it was on to the Victoria Falls, “The Smoke That Thunders”, which is simply a jaw-dropping experience
Zimbabwe is all you’d expect and hope – friendly, welcoming, beautiful and majestic – and yet fatigued by war and bad government. I intend to return soon, hopefully to see more of the eastern half – the highlands.