Published: May 6th 2012May 2nd 2012
After the intensity of the hunt, it was time for what I thought to be a peaceful journey to check out Victoria Falls. It was somewhat bittersweet because I was sad to be leaving my new friends in Jo-berg, but I was looking forward to the next leg of my trip. The flight was a much more pleasant one, only an hour and a half north to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and I landed in a very sparse non air conditioned airport, only to go through an arduous customs process. However, I did manage to get a cool new visa in my passport and one thing I've learned while traveling, is that you have to look at the bright side of everything.
I caught a taxi to my hostel, Shoestrings Backpackers, and passed through Victoria Falls town. I already began to notice how Zimbabwe's economy has affected the town. The poverty here was fairly noticeable, despite being such a frequented tourist attraction. It was interesting to see shanties one minute, then huge 5 star colonial hotels the next. While booking some adventure activities, a sunset cruise on the Zambezi and a helicopter flight to see a bird's eye view of the
falls, I was greeted up close and personal with the first uncomfortable experience of the trip. It's always expected when in a poverty stricken city or country that there can often be a lot of people begging, or pushy vendors and Victoria Falls was no exception. However, despite the persistence of a lot of street sellers, they were always extremely friendly and everyone that I walked past, whether they were trying to sell me something or not, always gave me a thumbs up, or a hello. Of course the soft spot in me couldn't always resist the salesmen and I now have a few extra useless trinkets that I most definitely overpaid for.
Anyway, as I was dropped off, I was welcomed by a familiar proper backpacker’s hostel. It was decorated in African colours, but also had a bit of a Rasta feel to it as well. After settling in to my 4 person dorm, I chilled out by the bar and had a few ice cold Zambezi Lagers. The nice thing about Shoestring's bar, is that it is frequented by many locals. It gives it a fairly authentic feel, and it's refreshing to meet people who actually
The pictures really don't do it justice.
live in Victoria Falls, in addition to travelers from other countries. Not long after, I was picked up and headed out to the Zambezi for the cruise. I met a young couple from Johannesburg who were visiting The Falls as well, which was nice, because as we boarded, we realized we were the only people who weren't in retirement age (not that there's anything wrong with that). The cruise was also fully hosted, which made the ride extra enjoyable. As we pulled away onto the river, we saw crocodiles and a few hippos as well. Although the hippos kept fairly hidden, we were able to catch one that popped it's head up and saw some of the body as well. Man they're huge! It was also neat to hear the belching sounds that they make. As the sun set, we were surprised to see a large elephant munching knee deep in the river on some vegetation. I'm always amazed by the size of these awesome animals. After the cruise it was back to Shoestrings, where Manchester City was preparing to take on Manchester United. This attracted many locals and after the game the party continued into the night.
next day I decided to check out Victoria Falls up close and personal. In my opening sentence I mentioned that I thought this was going to be a peaceful experience, however there was nothing peaceful about this waterfall. The sheer power and size had me awestruck. It was almost scary to see that much water flowing and dropping 108 meters into the gorge below. During the walk along the path and at different view points, I was drenched by the fall’s spray. I was absolutely soaked. It made me realize how insignificant we can be at the power of nature. The falls also brought an unexpected danger. As I was being hypnotized, I felt something drop onto my neck. Thinking it was a leaf or something from the overhanging trees; I grabbed at it and felt a sharp pain, much like a bee sting. I threw whatever it was on the ground only to realize that it was what looked to be a jumping a spider, about the size of my thumb print. I took a picture of it and began to worry a bit, but stayed calm and waited it out. Luckily there was no ill effect, other than
The Mist From the Falls
You can see the mist spit out from kilometers away.
a bit of a stinging sensation on my neck. On my way home I stumbled upon another little danger. I took a shortcut back home on a small footpath and was warned by some locals that there may be an elephant ahead. I proceeded with caution and sure enough, there it was about 3 meters from the path. I stopped to take a picture and immediately it sensed me, let out a big growl and began to flap its ears. I scurried away with my heart pounding in my chest, it was another close call. This trip to the falls was definitely a humbling one.
The next day I took a helicopter ride for a bird's eye view of The Falls. This would be my first time in a helicopter and I was definitely looking forward to it. We took off and approached The Falls and words can't really describe how big it is, and seeing it first up-close and personal, and then from above gave me a very thorough experience. After that, the evenings were mainly spent hanging out at the hostel and enjoying company from both locals and travelers from Germany, New Zealand and Ireland. My next
day trip would be to visit my sponsored child, Bravo, who lives in rural Hwange. But, I think I've been longwinded enough, so that'll have to wait for my next entry.
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