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.