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After a long overnight flight from London to Johannesburg and a short one from Johannesburg to Bulawayo I could finally set foot on African soil for the first time in my life.
Bulawayo is the second largest city in Zimbabwe after Harare. There was some rebuilding going on at the terminal building, in the mean time they are using a temporary terminal not much bigger than a shed. The passport control, visa, baggage claim and customs were all in one 50 m2 big room! They even had a small space for gun registration! Welcome to Africa! It took us a while to get through customs since the guy there opened and went through every bag of almost every person. I think it was mostly the returning citizens bags that where searched, when it was my turn he just asked what was in my bags and sent me right through without opening any of them. Same thing with the other Norwegian girls.

I was met at the airport by two of the project managers from Antilope park, Dave and Evans. Turned out there was 3 more girls arriving on the same flight as me, two Norwegians and one British girl. After a few stops in Bulawayo centre, two police posts and a small stop along the way for a toilet visit in the bush, we finally arrived at Antilope Park. When we came up to the gate, we were met by 4 elephants! Some welcome committee!! After being assigned our rooms, we're bunking 4 person to a room, we got a small induction, which included a short, spur of the moment, visit with the park's youngest member, a 3 month old lion cub! So cute! I've not only met my first lion, but also touched my first lion. Tomorrow I'll be going on my first lion walk with the older cubs, they're just over a year old. And in the afternoon I'll be cub sitting the young one. Have to share her with some of the other volunteers though – too bad.


There is about 20 volunteers here, most are doing the lion conservation project, but some are doing one of the two community projects where you teach at a local pre-school, or help out at one of the medical clinics in town. Sadly, I would say, almost half of the volunteers here at the moment are Norwegians, not that I don't like my own countrymen, but half is way too much. Four of them are leaving tomorrow though. The age of the volunteers span from 18 to 60, most are in their twenties.

After the induction it was time for dinner, the restaurant is situated by the river in a really idyllic setting. There is a bonfire pit nearby as well for after dinner gatherings around the fire. It's just so beautiful here, it's hard to describe. I'm really looking forward to the next 3 weeks!
I haven't seen the whole area yet, across the river are the luxury tents and lodges where the actual guests live. Antilope Park is a private game reserve where you can come and stay and take part in the activities that the park offer. The most popular one being the lion walks, but there are also horse or elephant rides and river canoeing. Then there are the lion enclosures and the area where the breeding program is situated and a lot of bush, I'll get to see more of the bush tomorrow while walking the lions. Apparently there is a lot of other species in the park as well, including zebra and giraffe. I'd really like to see a giraffe or two while I'm here.

Posted by RaijaKarma 02:37 Archived in Zimbabwe

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