Zimbabwe safari parks, resorts seized by land invaders

Tourist sites are the latest targets for land seizures in Zimbabwe, reports SW Radio Africa.

A mob of about 150 people took over Lake Chivero Recreational Park, the Kumba Shiri resort, and several other sites around the lake, forbidding guests and employees from leaving.

This is one of a string of land grabs across the country committed by semi-legal mobs taking advantage of the Indigenisation Act, a law passed by President Robert Mugabe in which 51 percent of any foreign holding transfers into Zimbabwean hands. SW Radio Africa wryly noted that the mob promised several resorts to “ministers and other top officials”.

Things seem to have calmed down now. The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee, a group set up by the new coalition government to stop this sort of thing, intervened and got the mob to leave. Mugabe was forced to make a coalition government after gross mismanagement of the country. The Indigenisation Act was widely seen as a populist move to divert attention from the economy by targeting foreigners and white Zimbabweans.

Ironically, the Zimbabwe’s tourism minister is currently in Madrid attending the travel expo Fitur, where he’s pushing the country as a tourist destination. Zimbabwe has a lot to offer the adventure traveler: safaris, wildlife, traditional societies, ancient monuments, and beautiful countryside. If the government could offer some stability the tourist industry could blossom.

[Photo of Lake Chivero courtesy user Gyron via Wikimedia Commons]

Another plane mishap in Africa. This time lava is the problem

If you’ve ever seen a lava flow, you know that once the stuff cools and hardens, it’s hard to move. In the Congo, this has created a big problem at the airport in Goma. Back in 2002, when the Nyiragongo Volcano erupted, lava flowed onto the runway, thus shortening it. A shorter runway does not sound good. It’s not.

Today, this was proved true once more when an airplane flying from Kinshasa to Goma overshot the runway and landed on the lava instead. Ouch! According to the report, 20 people out of the 117 on board were injured.

This is not the first time that lava has created issues at the Goma airport. The last time was in 2007 when a cargo plane caught on fire after it hit the lava. This incidence caused 7 deaths.

As unusual as it is to hit lava on a runway, it’s probably more unusual for a plane to hit a bush pig. The plane hits a bush pig incident happened a week ago on in Zimbabwe. When this pig made it’s last oink, high drama ensued which included a couple of injuries that were caused when passengers fell into a ditch at the side of the runway.

As for the lava on the runway woes, hopefully this latest incident in Goma will help provide incentive to remove the rest of it.

When it comes to bush pigs on runways, pilots in Zimbabwe–and I guess elsewhere where bush pigs roam–are probably keeping their eyes on the lookout.

The photo taken by Julien Harneis from a helicopter shows the lava flow around Goma.

Plane hits pig on runway and passengers panic

It wasn’t a wolf’s huffing and puffing that led to the demise of a pig on the runway at the Harare International Airport in Zimbabwe last Tuesday. Nope, it was a MA60 60-seater attempting to take off. The wild bush pig may or may not have seen the Air Zimbabwe plane coming. But, come it did.

Poor pig. Poor plane. Poor passengers–and poor flight attendant who had to yell, “‘Evacuate!'” after the damaged plane ended up off the runway with dust and smoke filling the cabin.

That’s not the worst of it.

When the panicked passengers and crew tried to escape using the plane’s emergency exit doors, they couldn’t go out one of them. It was jammed. As if that wasn’t bad enough, once they managed to wrestle the plane’s main door open with a mighty effort, two passengers were hurt when they fell into a ditch as they scrambled away from the plane. Because this mishap happened at night, the ditch wasn’t easily visible in the dark.

There’s more. The emergency rescue team didn’t show up for five minutes after the crash because the secret police beat them to the plane. Instead of offering assistance, the police’s main concern was arresting two passengers who were taking pictures.

That’s not all. It took an hour for the 37 passengers to be given water and five hours for them to be allowed to leave the airport. Friends and relatives, who came to the airport after finding out about the accident via cell phone calls from people on the plane, were not told any details about what had happened or given access to the passengers.

Along with reading like a bizarre slapstick story, this pig-on-the-runway-makes-mayhem tale is a good reminder that no matter how bad a flight might seem, it could be worse. [The Times]

The scariest swimming pool EVER

Acrophobia is described as an uncontrollable, irrational, and often crippling fear of heights. I’m not sure if this concept has an opposite — acrophilia, maybe? Love of heights? — but that’s how I’d describe anyone brave (crazy?) enough to go for a dip at the Devil’s Pool.

The Devil’s Pool is a natural swimming hole surrounded by just-below-the-surface rocks at the top of Africa’s Victoria Falls, right at the edge of the 108-meter falls on the Zambezi River. When I say right at the edge, I don’t mean near the edge, or sort of close to the falls, or in the grass next to the falls — I mean it is on the edge of the falls.

Just looking at pictures of the tourists who’ve gone there makes me a bit light headed. I know myself well enough to know that I could never, ever get in that water — but the photos from those braver than I are absolutely stunning. No, these aren’t photoshopped. It’s allegedly very safe, but I can’t help but think that those who scoot out over the edge for a once-in-a-lifetime photograph are really pushing their luck.

Are you brave enough to dive in?

Bad idea bear: Roadtrippin’ through Zimbabwe

Would you give up Christmas, New Year’s, and three weeks of your winter vacation to travel to a country wracked by every malady you can think of–economic collapse, political turmoil, widespread starvation, etc?

Yep, I’m talking about Zimbabwe, which has paradoxically been skyrocketing towards the top of my must-visit list. What’ll be particularly jarring is that I’m flying in from a 12-hr layover in Madrid and arrival in Johannesburg. I just might not want to leave either places.

Anyways, our resident Lonely Planet writer, Matt Firestone, tells me that there’s no travel guides on Zimbabwe, or at least one that has been updated in the last 7-8 years. So add that to the above list of why this whole trip will be quite an adventure. Oh, and we’re planning (as of now, when we’re still giddy by the novelty of the idea and not say, shaking in fear) to drive in by car or motorcycle!