Zimbabwe: Adventures In The Bush

Zimbabwe: Adventures In The Bush

(jacaranda photo via jude and mark because I couldn't get a good picture on my iphone)

It's that time of the year when I head over to Zimbabwe to visit Tommy and get my hands dirty on the ground with our ongoing projects. It's always a logistical undertaking heading to another hemisphere, psyching myself up for 90 hours of travel in 10 days, and keeping my fingers crossed, hoping for the best.

Tommy & I make it a point to have coffee together at the very minimum every 6 months, but this year, our goal was every quarter. So it was my turn to take the trek across the globe.

After a night in Washington DC, touring the Capitol and enjoying some walking in the rain, I took Ethiopian Air through Addis Ababa (capitol of Ethiopia) and down into Harare, Zimbabwe. As I deplane, I'm met with the familiar smells of the musty Zimbabwean airport and the ever-present gazing eyes of Robert Mugabe. If home is where the heart is, then I'm home away from home.

Welcome to Zimbabwe.

A month long visa into Zim is $30 USD. You have to pay in cash (sorry no checks or credit cards with this purchase). I handed the customs clerk a $20 and an older styled $10 bill. She handed the $10 back to me and said it was counterfeit. I stood my ground and assured her that it was not counterfeit and that Bank of America gave it to me. She paused and shuffled some paperwork for 2 minutes, then responded by handing me my passport and visa.

This encounter reminds me to leave all of my first world problems behind (example: “Oh man, this 4G cell service is so slow, I can’t get my email to load!”).

If you've never been to Zimbabwe, October is one of my favorite times (cool May is nice too). It's right at the tail end of the dry season, and the beautiful, purple jacaranda trees are in bloom. It's very magical and scenic from a botanical standpoint.

We spent the week in meetings with many of the various projects and clients we're working with, as well as getting pitched on a few new ideas, businesses, and impact projects.

We had coffee a couple of times with Gift, the CEO of Cotrade. I was ecstatic to hear that Cotrade is now working with 3 of the 6 largest mines in Zim, sourcing their mining supplies and dust suppression equipment. Cotrade is looking to expand into Zambia and Mozambique next year. It was a great report.

(From Left: Gift, Tommy, Tim)

In between meetings, we spent time shipping out the monthly marketing for Celebration, launching our website here, putting the finishing touches on our manifesto ebook, redecorating Tommy's office—giving him a whiteboard wall (using the whiteboard paint that somehow survived the journey in my checked luggage). It was a typical week of action for us—slammed busy.

After each enjoying about 2 pounds (1 kilo) of coffee during the week, we began to switch gears and prepare for the manly camping trip of a lifetime.

We loaded up the truck, took a few of our mates and headed out to the bush—Mana Pools, Zimbabwe, one of the most remote, wild, and natural game reserves in all of Africa. After 14 police roadblocks (more on this another time), 5 hours of Zimbabwe highway driving, which is a cross between playing Russian roulette and Chicken with an automobile driving at speeds well over 70 mph (120 kph), we made it to our campsite just before dark.

The next morning, after quite a sleepless night due to intense nightly wildlife noises, we came upon a pride of lion devouring a buffalo. Amazing, powerful, intimidating, and spectacular all in one moment. The pride consisted of 2 young males, 10 lioness, and 2 cubs. Truly a once in a lifetime moment.

The great Zambezi River runs straight through Mana Pools. As I mentioned, it was the end of dry season, so there was an immense amount of wildlife flocking to the river. During the hot days, we also would migrate down to the river to wade in the cool, flowing water with the Zambian mountains in the background.

Besides a few run ins with honey badgers, hyena, and buffalo, the trip was a welcomed retreat in the African bush.


Tommy is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the next two weeks speaking at universities and keynoting the Emerging Ideas business conference. He’ll be speaking on creative entrepreneurship and doing business in Africa. More pictures and stories to come from Southeast Asia.

The Manifesto is officially up and ready for download. You can read it on your mobile device, or even print it off if you’d like. :) Click here to take a look.