Arrival and immigration
I arrived in Harare via Jo'burg a few days in advance of our Tour Group to give me time to come to terms with some new camera equipment before the trip proper kicked in. Before you reach Baggage Reclaim at Harare you need to pass through the immigration controls which, a few years ago, could be a lengthy process. Fortunately this has now been streamlined to a great extent. A word of advice to would-be travellers. Do not come straight from the plane and join an immigration queue. On the right hand side as you enter the airport building there are some writing supports on the wall and some immigration forms. To save having to line up twice you need to fill one of these in before joining the queue. Try to have your own pen with you and you will need(at time of writing) $US55 in cash for your visa. Other than that it is relatively painless and straightforward. Baggage Reclaim is no different from anywhere else in the world other than the fact that you may be asked to put your hold luggage through a scanner after Reclaim. Again straightforward and no problem. After a number of occasions in life when it did not happen my relief at being reunited with both my bags was compounded by the sight of a friendly face in the crowded Arrivals Hall and within no time we were on our way out onto the Bulawayo Road.
My base for this trip was the exceptional Game Lodge of Pamuzinda,(images 1 - 7) situated at Selous in Mashonaland West some 60K's outside Harare on the Bulawayo Road. Named after Frederick Courteney Selous - a famous British Explorer and Hunter of the late 1800's- this was an important stop-over back in the days of oxcart travel. Today it's role is somewhat diminished in this regard but it nevertheless forms an essential focal point for the surrounding areas and has an all important filling station with accompanying shops, mini marts and market stalls selling a wide range of goods and supplies.
Group arrival and welcome
Our group arrived in Harare mid-afternoon some days later and reached the Lodge in time for a freshen up and sundowners round the fire pit before a reinvigorating evening meal in the welcoming semi al fresco dining room with its stunning night time views of the Milky Way, seemingly so close you feel you could reach out and touch it.