Politics and Camping

We are secretly camped beside a farm that was forcibly removed from a white Zimbabwean farmer and given to black Zimbabweans. Robert is jumpy. Acting on his advice, we are cautious.

The redistribution of farmland was set as an objective by President Mugabe in 1980, when Zimbabwe gained independence. 20 years later the process had barely started. In 2000 government supported land seizures were enforced by armed gangs of young men, these were often unexpected and violent and farmers, their families and staff were sometimes injured and killed. The most recent land seizure in the area was in 2008, just 6 years earlier. That is why we are hiding behind a thick hedge.

Robert warns us that these people can be aggressive and may think that we are trying to steal their land. He also assesses the camping spot as likely to attract a lot of snakes. Everyone is wary when we hear cars passing, becoming silent and switching off torchlights. To add a little extra adventure, I have a stomach upset in the night and 3 times have to make a dash into the darkness. Given the situation, I wake Woocash to keep me company, which he suffered with surprisingly good humour. We are happy to get off the site as quickly as possible in the morning.


Number of Days: 53

Total distance run by Emma: 2204 km, 1370 miles

Daily average distance run by Emma (including rest days): 41.6km, 25.8 miles

Distance run today: 41.13 km, 25.55 miles

Fire in the distance


Alarmingly, we see wild fires less than a mile away. However, people, cows and dogs are going about their business without looking at even those fires that are near straw huts. So, we do what everyone else does and ignore it.

Robert explains local people start fires to flush out small animals, which are caught for food. I guess Zambians are as experienced with fire as the Swiss are with snow.

With fires around, I am not keen on camping beside the road. Luckily, we are allowed to camp here under this fantastic tree which makes Cleo look like a toy truck instead of the Landcruiser with extra suspension she really is.


Robert swiftly disappears to chat up the locals who are having a meeting about development in the area and receive some tasty meat and sadza, which I am very happy about. I still haven’t mentioned to the team the possibility we could run out of food as we don’t have any Zambian money to buy any. Why bother them?

In the night the wind gets up.

Advice Moment: When travelling in a windy place, do not take a roof tent. The wind sweeps between the layers of the tent and struggles desperately to get out, crashing the fabric up and down. At moments, shaking the whole car, I dreamily wonder if we will take off. Fortunately, Cleopatra is a big girl and all the kit inside and us on top, adds up to over a tonne so it would have to be some wind to fly us into the sky. In future, I think twice about putting a tent under a massive tree.

Nobody gets much sleep.

Emma slowing up for Robert 😉 … Truthfully, though, Emma was in so much pain it is phenomenal that she is moving, much less running more than a marathon

Number of Days: 35

Total distance run by Emma: 1537 km, 955 miles

Daily average distance run by Emma (including rest days): 43.9 km, 27.3 miles

Distance run today: 55.71 km, 34.61 miles

Brenda’s Best Baobab

Brenda’s Best Baobab is a gentle giant of a tree. Wider than several people and disappearing into the sky, surrounded by a deck for tables, the Baobab stands quietly.



Upon crossing into Zambia we soon come across small shops catching attention with their delicious smells and fresh shiny fruit and vegetables. As predicted there are several banks in … but not one of them is working. “Maybe tomorrow” the locals tell me helpfully but tomorrow we’ll be miles away. I silently mourn the unattainable healthy fruit and vegetables available and decide, for the sake of team morale, not to mention that having cleared our stocks of food before crossing the border, we may be a little short for the next 5 days.

Unexpectedly, the Sesheke town rolls on and it is clear that we will not find a camping spot by nightfall, which is how we have found ourselves at Brenda’s Best Baobab, an immaculate looking campsite. But, with only 5 kwacha, we are hoping for Brenda’s generosity. Her encouraging staff usher me to her rich green lawn outside her house, where I stand scruffy, dirty and awkward.

Looking for hippos in the Zambezi at Brenda’s Best Baobab

Brenda herself is very friendly and happy to offer us free accommodation as a donation to the success of our journey. Her belief in us is yet another reason I hope we raise more money. I would show you a photo of this lady who is both the kind of person you don’t mess with and successfully puts you at your ease. However, when she got up in the early morning to say goodbye she said she was underdressed and did not want any photos going up. A friend of hers had had a photo taken when she was nursing a baby and it ended up on the internet, with the mother, someone who is normally well dressed, feeling extremely embarrassed.

Shower cubicle

Brenda kindly lets us use her kitchen and unimpressed by our dirty pots allows us to scrub the soot off the bottom of them. I also get to cook over a gas stove, I love cooking over a wood fire but a little variety and the easy cleanliness of gas makes for a nice change.

Emma is keen to get to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and have her very well earned 2 day break. She wants to start early whilst it is still dark but Brenda tells a story of a friend walking home at night from work, who was killed by an elephant. Emma agrees to wait until dawn.

with love and thanks to Brenda and the two staff members in this photo

What others have to say about Brenda’s and contact details:

Open Africa
Lonely Planet
Bradt Guide

Tel: 0963 786882

A moment in camp


I have uploaded a video of us in camp.

In case the video won’t play for you. Here’s the story:

Most nights we camp on the side of the road, we cook over a campfire, wash with a little water or wet wipes and go to the toilet behind a bush, avoiding snakes and scorpions.

Emma went off to pee in the dark. As there is no comfy toilet to sit on, she has to crouch putting weight on her blisters and painful knee. I heard a sorrowful wail,

“Oh! No!” from Emma.

“What is it?”

In attempting to avoid bending her painful knee too much, she has peed on her flip flop but didn’t notice until she put her heel back down. Then she tried to wash her foot with fairy liquid but lost her balance and stepped in the sand. By the time we start videoing, Emma is sat down safely, laughing but very tired, and I am helping her to rinse her foot and shoe, whilst she explains what happened.

Emma ends with the question, “Why is everything so hard?”

And I reply, “That’s what happens when you run 40k a day.”

It’s a long tough journey.


No of days: 31

Total distance run by Emma: 1,346 km, 837 miles

Daily average distance run by Emma (including rest days): 43.45 km, 27 miles

 Distance run today: 41.8 km, 26 miles