It was five years ago I was lucky enough to visit for the first time the southern African nation of Zimbabwe, to write a travel article about its then recent renaissance as a tourist destination following the return of international airlines to its capital and the lifting of EU travel warnings.
It was such a revelatory experience to see and feel what the country has to offer, after years of negative press in newspapers and on the TV screen, that when the opportunity to revisit the nation arose last month I jumped at the chance to secure a new commission, with both The South African newspaper and Luxury Lifestyle Magazine.
On this trip, organised by Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, the group of accredited journalists was much bigger (four times as big in fact) which, while presenting a few more difficulties logistically, also made for a more vibrant social experience, with a range of backgrounds and nationalities represented.
The eight-day tour encompassed the length and breadth of the nation, which appeared to be in buoyant mood following the recent abdication of Robert Mugabe – Zimbabweans are naturally a happy and friendly people, but this time the welcoming smiles seemed even wider.
Destinations on the itinerary included Harare, Masvingo, Matobo, Bulawayo, Hwange and Victoria Falls, all distinctively memorable locations in their own right. It was also a pleasant surprise flying for the first time with Rwandair, who co-partnered the trip, from London Gatwick.
Both articles covering all destinations visited and the supporting airline will be published in a fortnight's time. My photo gallery for the time being: www.flickr.com/photos/krisgriffiths/albums/72157694715157724/with/41341240561/
Zimbabwe is truly open for business again.