Old Strip Roads…


…Can still be seen in some places in Zimbabwe. Although built nearly 100 years ago, they have withstood the tests of time! Called strip roads because they only cover the road where the tyres go, they were much cheaper to build when developing a new nation. Zimbabwe is twice the size of the United Kingdom and three times the size of Ireland! Engineers charged with developing a country covered in thick bush, teeming with wild animals on a limited budget, came up with this idea. This section is from Bulawayo to the Victoria Falls. The road builders stuck to outcropping rocks as it provided a solid base for the road. When the wide tar road was constructed in the 1960’s, a shorter route over the top of the sand was chosen. (Ancient sand dunes are clearly visible on Satellite images from Lupane onwards.) This is what Wikipedia has to say: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strip_road


If travellers came across someone driving in the opposite direction, both were expected to move over, so only their right wheels were on the left hand track! That’s pretty close when passing the on coming vehicle – takes some trust, that!


By the time I was a kid, there was only a small section remaining as part of our National Roads: between Filabusi and Belingwe (Now, Mberengwa.)


and I clearly remember my dad, cigarette between his fingers, elbow out of the window, only veering off to the left at the last possible moment – no reduction in speed!


I took this (silly) short video driving on the section of this road near the turn off to Hwange Main Camp, near Netchilibi…

Fast forward forty years…and these guys are not going as fast, but still using the road!


The day I took the above photo, the inbuilt temperature gauge in the car read 52 degrees C. In other words, very hot! And, we had to work outside in it…(I remained in the car with the air-conditioner running.)




6 thoughts on “Old Strip Roads…

    • It didn’t feel that bad, but as you heard, I have plenty of padding! I love to come across the old roads and imagine what it must have been like being a pioneer. They must have been a tough bunch! I have, somewhere, got a photograph of how the strip roads were built – the edges of the tarmac have been washed away to expose the layers of very well laid down basement – its no wonder they have lasted so long

      • I’m convinced if I were tele-ported back to pioneer days even just 100-150 years ago that I wouldn’t survive long. I’m glad I won’t find out!

      • At least you wouldnt have to wear stupid long dresses – THAT alone would kill me! (Although men wore long socks (with our grass seeds!) and silly hot hats

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