Ah, Zimbabwe. What exactly can I say about you? You have beautiful landscapes and interesting people, but your president-for-life (not officially, there are “elections”) has run your economy into the shitter…
Case-in-point: I am now a trillionaire.
Mind you, I was told if you wanted a loaf of bread (back when the Zimbabwean currency was actually used – the country now uses either the US Dollar or South African Rand for transactions), you’d need to wait in line at the grocery at 4AM, and of course have that one trillion bill in hand. Despite how poor some of these people are, I really have to say that Zimbabwe has some amazingly talented folks. Young kids that sat around and painted, or people that churned out drawings and carvings in order to sell to the tourists to make a buck… or trade for just about anything (clothing, shoes, pens, bubble gum, they were very much intrigued with sticky-notes). I certainly wished I had brought along more things that I could have given to people – I did trade my brand-new flip flops for a carved wooden basket, and a bag of fruit and a few dollars for a very large carved giraffe (which was a joy to bring home on the plane!!).
One of the ways Zimbabwe makes their money is charging exorbitant fees for entrance. They probably don’t care who comes knocking on their door, as long as they pay the money for the visa. Bringing your own car? There’s another fee for that, too. Because the fees were so high, when I crossed the border into Botswana (and later, back into Zimbabwe), the driver dropped us off at the border, and we had to walk across for another driver. The cars and drivers don’t cross – far too expensive for that. So in terms of train travel, there really aren’t many passenger trains that do cross the border – the fees for cars are high enough, I could only imagine the charge for a train (though there are fancy tours like Rovos Rail that do cross the border, the cost for some of these tours is more than I make in a year, so my assumption is that border crossing charges do somewhat inflate that price).
There is, however, a steam train company in Victoria Falls that goes onto the Victoria Falls Bridge, and sits there so passengers can view the sunset. When investigating about this train, I was quoted a price of $90 dollars per ticket. Just so you are aware, it is probably around a mile from the train station to the bridge – and there was no way in hell I was paying $90 dollars for that (that is a damn expensive mile!). So I never did take a train in Zimbabwe, but I did get some pictures at the station. Included are also some photos of the Victoria Falls Hotel. The hotel is located right next to the station, and they have a private entryway to the platform, on which they seriously roll out a red carpet. For anyone who might ever happen to be in the area, I suggest checking out the hotel. Even if you aren’t staying there, you can still check it out and have tea or a meal. There is a good view of the Victoria Falls bridge from there, and the walls have plenty of old photos of trains and the Victoria Falls station.