Oops… this has been sitting in my draft folder since we went to Zimbabwe in April. I guess the end of the school year chaos caught up to me more than I thought it had. Here’s some words about our awe-inspiring trip to Victoria Falls.
It’s not often that I’m without words. I usually have something to say about everything. But our journey to Victoria Town in Zimbabwe has taken my breath away.
The weekend was rather unexpected. Though I’ve wanted to visit Victoria Falls since I first arrived in Africa in 1999, it has always seemed “too far away” or “too expensive.” But when Rob got a complimentary flight (thanks to a complaint about some bad service on a British Airways flight), how could we not take the opportunity to see one of the World’s Natural Wonders?
We arrived in Victoria Town, Zimbabwe, on a warm Saturday afternoon just after a short 90-minute flight from Johannesburg. The arrival hall and excruciatingly long customs line reminded me that Africa has many faces and we were staring down an old decrepit one. Meeting up with our driver, who guided us past traditional dancers in loin clothes made from springbok skins, we (Rob and I) were aware that we were definitely back in Africa again!
We arrived and enjoyed a few minutes of rest and relaxation at at The Kingdom Resort before piling back in an air-conditioned bus on our way to the jetty for a cruise down the Zambezi river (thanks for the recommendation Bronny!). At our personal table for four, we enjoyed a water safari while throwing back Zambezi beers on the Zambezi river–now that’s a first! Though the beer was crap, the views were magnificent. It was a bird watching paradise with crocs and hippos on or near the banks. But the highlight of this ride was the moment we caught an elephant washing itself in the river. Staring at this majestic creature as it appeared in the distance silhouetted against a setting sun, we knew this was going to be an amazing journey.
A yawning hippo
Enjoying a “Zambezi” on the Zambezi
A bathing beauty
The next morning it was time to see what we’d came for–Victoria Falls! A quick 10-minute walk from our hotel, took us on another mini-safari as we walked past hippo and elephant dung, baboons, warthogs, and the wild Zimbabwean drivers.
Victoria Falls was said to be “discovered” in 1855 by the Scottish explorer, David Livingstone (though thousands of Zimbabwean natives would have already been aware of the falls’ existence, I’m sure). Livingstone named the falls in honor of Queen Victoria. The falls relish in the fact that they are twice the height of Niagara Falls. Because of it’s wide sheer drop (and the crashing sounds that erupt from it) the falls’ indigenous name translates to the “cloud that thunders.” It erupts from the peaceful river and spews a cloud of water into the air at such fervor that as it returns to the Earth it has created a mini-rainforest ecosystem.
While enjoying a peaceful walk through the national park, we participated in our own mini safari with baboons, birds, and some sort of Springbok-type animals. After viewing the falls from every vantage point, we decided to walk to the Lookout Cafe to enjoy a drink while looking out at the gorge and weaving waterways that carry the now peaceful water away from the falls. Grubbing on nuts and colorful cocktails (virgin for the wee ones), we reminisced about the experience we had and watched some adventurers wing, fly, and bungee across the gorge. It was then that Rob, our expert in frugality, surprised us with his most shocking idea yet, “Let’s book a helicopter ride over the falls and see them from above.” And so we did.
After lunch, we got picked up and whisked away to The Flight of Angels where we were videotaped listening to security briefings, being weighed-in, and bubbling with excitement before we enjoyed the fly over.
Once the helicopter landed, we were just like the characters in the movies–all bent down, blocking our heads from the powerful blades above. We loaded up on the helicopter and enjoyed the most unbelievably euphoric 8-minutes of our life. The helicopter lead us in a figure-8 pattern so each person could view the falls without obstruction. It was an awe-inspiring excursion.
The brilliant falls
The view over the falls
Warthogs on our walk
Showered by Vic Falls
Ready to fly!
After the ride, everything seemed a bit of a downer. The afternoon spent in the pool was only made more pleasurable by chats about the amazing birds-eye view we had just enjoyed.
At night, we walked through downtown Victoria Falls City on a quest for items that would suffice for a casual in-room dinner. We ended up at a local supermarket as the only Mzungus (white people) inside. People stopped to stare at us as we gawked at the prices and quality of the food. When we paid for a few sodas and crackers with our unbelievably overused US dollars, we were given the third degree about our time and experience in Zimbabwe. We walked out of the store reflecting on how lovely the Zimbabweans were–so reminiscent of our time in Kenya.
This is not a trip soon forgotten.