A return to Zimbabwe

As the world slowly rallies to deal with the idiocy of Coronavirus, it has become possible to travel once again. My first trip for several pandemic months happened in April, with a return to the beautiful land of Zimbabwe.

As readers may know, I have a Series One Land Rover in Zimbabwe, a 1956 107″ pickup called The Black Pearl. It was in the process of being restored for most of 2020, and with Easter 2021 came the news that, after a full engine rebuild by Tom Frames in South Africa, she was finally ready. So I headed to Zim to take her out on safari.

She is currently based in Bulawayo, so I flew into Harare and spent a couple of days there, staying at the excellent Royal Guest House in Mandara, before moving to Bulawayo. Having collected the Pearl, I took her out for a few trips to see how she ran. The first was a road trip. This took the form of a long drive up to Mutare on the border with Mozambique, travelling through Matabeleland and then Mashonaland to get there. Mutare, once known as Fort Umtali, is a sprawling town set in the wonderfully-named Christmas Pass in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe.

Next however I needed to try of the Pearl in real safari conditions. To do this I booked in at Antelope Park near Gweru, a Game Reserve with great facilities. I took the Pearl out on several trips within the Reserve, with perhaps the most memorable being an encounter with several elephants early one morning when I was checking my map

The Pearl needs one or two more tweaks before she is ready for the Cape Town-UK drive which I intend to make with her, but she is well on the way to being good to go. Zimbabwe proved, as ever, to be friendly and truly beautiful. Of course I had to go through the various hoops imposed by COVID checks, PCR tests and so on, and it all proved to be relatively easy to organise and carry out.

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