12-Sep-2003 -- I was in Zimbabwe for about two weeks on holiday with my wife LeAnn, visiting friends Lee and Justin White. This was my first trip outside North America, so there was a lot to see and do during that two weeks. At the time of our visit, Zimbabwe was in political and economic turmoil. Since early 2000, armed war veterans with the support of the President, have occupied and seized a number of white-owned and opposition supporters' farms. This has created a dramatic decline in farm productivity as well as a large decline in tourism and foreign investor confidence, resulting in an economic crisis for the country. One component of the economic crisis is a lack of fuel, thus superfluous driving for the sake of confluence hunting was not high on the priority list for my travel companions. Still, we managed to log one attempt at 18° South 27° East, and log a success at this Confluence.
Given our failure at 18S 27E, Justin was determined to hit this Confluence. We gave ourselves a maximum of three hours, as we had additional plans for the day. Lee stayed at home to prepare for our later trip to Matopos, while Justin, LeAnn and I left around 7:30 am. We took the main road between Bulawayo and Harare, our turnoff was a dirt road that lead to Fort Rixon. As we approached our turnoff, I was ready to abort this mission, as the Confluence appeared to lie on one of the occupied farms. Occupied farms can be identified by new housing consisting of small round huts near the main roads. I would have taken pictures to illustrate, but the US State Department strongly encouraged US citizens to avoid photographing occupied farms, government buildings, and military personnel.
The Confluence was about 4 km east of the main road, so Justin figured we would be safely out of sight from the farm occupants. I was still a bit nervous given the State Department's warnings, and I really didn't want a long hike away from the vehicle. I just couldn't envision successfully explaining the Degree Confluence Project to a war vet with an AK-47 pointed at me. Luck was on our side however - as we approached the 29th parallel, there was an open gate to the property. This was as close to an invitation as we would receive, so we proceeded back south on a farm trail toward the Confluence only about 800 meters away.
We had to drive around a few trees and bushes, but it doesn't get much easier than this. We hopped out of the truck, and spent quite a few minutes trying to get the coveted "all zeros" GPS photo. While Justin was moving the GPS around, I took the pictures of the four cardinal directions. As the pictures illustrate, the topography is fairly flat and the view is rather unremarkable. Vegetation is primarily native grass used for cattle grazing, with indigenous trees and shrubs interspersed. After getting the GPS shot, we took another of our group and proceeded quickly off the land.