When I was invited on a trip to Zimbabwe by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, it was a feeling of excitement that buzzed through my body. Having heard so much about the country from an old colleague, I was excited to experience 'Zim' for myself.
SEEING ZIMBABWE FOR THE FIRST TIME
I'm usually an aisle seat flyer. I have long legs and prefer not to clamber over people to get to the loo, but for the first time in over a year I had a window seat, which allowed me to get a first hand glimpse of Zimbabwe as we approached Harare Airport. Initial thoughts? 'What are those trees with the amazing lilac coloured flowers?', 'It's very dry on the ground', and 'the roads are in very good condition'.
I know, I know, they weren't particularly exciting thoughts.
ZIMBABWE AND EBOLA
Before I left the UK, my friends and family were very concerned about the potential of me catching Ebola. After spending two days in Harare already, I can tell you that Zimbabwe is particularly proud that they have screening measures in place at Harare Airport, and that there are currently no suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola in the country.
In fact the shores of the UK are closer to the Ebola areas of Liberia and Sierra Leone than Zimbabwe is! Despite being tainted with the same 'Ebola is in Africa' brush, Zimbabwe is over 3,000 miles away. As such, I feel more than safe.
From my first two days in Harare, there seems to have been a major shift in focus over the last two years. The agenda is no longer about politics, but about growing the economy. That can only be a good thing for all concerned.
Speaking to locals on the street, they are friendly, upbeat and very proud of their country, and from my initial experience, I can see why.
Following the Sanganai Tourism Fair, I'll be heading on a trip up to Lake Kariba, spending two days on a house boat, before flying to Victoria Falls to end the trip next week. I cannot wait to explore the best bits of Zimbabwe, and share the experience with you!
You can watch the video of my first impressions below.