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Published: June 20th 2018
Wow - what a day. We started with our buffet breakfast by the pool at our hotel, very early because we had an 8.10am pickup with our tour company. The usual bacon, egg, sausages etc.
When the tour guide collected us we joined a group of Aussies, Scottish Aussies, French and Spanish people. after stopping at a couple more hotels to pick up people we drove to the entrance of the park that surrounds the Victoria Falls on the Zambezi side. Just a couple of miles upstream, the Zambezi merges with the Chobe River, and at this confluence there are the borders of four countries, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. At Victoria Falls we are in Zimbabwe, looking at water also in Zimbabwe to begin with, but then it becomes Zambian water. There is no public access on the Zambian side, although there are nice hotels very close to it.
We were issued with heavy duty raincoats and it was explained before we set out that it is best to take lots of pictures at viewpoints 1-8, because after that you can’t see much for the mist. We set off on a cement and rock path, not unlike cobblestones.
The waterfall is 1.7 kilometres wide, and we walked the width of it, on the other side of the canyon looking across at it. At the viewpoints, if you stepped off the path to get that one step closer, you squelched down in the mud. At the first viewpoint there was a statue of David Livingstone, the Scotsman who was the first white man to explore the area and find the falls.
The falls were amazing. So much water unceasingly falling over the edge into the canyon/abyss/crevasse, and we were so close in some parts, though on the other side of the canyon. The water was falling with such volume and force that it sort of exploded as it reached the bottom, sending plumes of mist up into the air. By viewpoint 9 you couldn’t see anything but mist. There were rangers at each viewpoint who subtly supervised and ensured safety.
At the end we returned to our minibus and were driven to an old baobab tree that they say is 1000-1500 years old. On the way there the driver says “oh, did you see that? There was an elephant off to the left” so he backed up
and yes, there was an elephant. We continued on to the tree and out of the bush come all of these hawkers to try to sell their trinkets and souvenirs to everyone who got off the bus. They just magically appeared. We then drove on to a craft market, where we bought a stone owl and a stone giraffe (wood is problematic for Australian borders). We had to haggle with the men who were very practised at their craft! when it was time to get back on the bus, the Scottish Melbournians were nowhere to be seen, and after the guide conducted a rudimentary search for them in the markets, we left without them! There was a more reputable tourist store in the car park at Victoria Falls but we weren’t given time to go there. There were baboons in the park in town, in our car park at the falls, and on the road but they were disregarded by our tour guides and minibus drivers as inconsequential. One even said that if you leave doors or windows open at home, the baboons get in, not only to your house but to your fridge!
We were then dropped back
to our hotels where we were due for a rest after our 3.4km walk!
At 3pm we returned to reception where we collected by a van from Bonisair Helicopters for our flight over the falls. There were 3 Californians in the van already and we joined them for the ride along a track out through the scrub. Once we arrived at the helicopter terminal we were quickly weighed and out into a helicoptor with a lovely couple from New York. The man was a policeman during 9/11 and he has two years of work left - he is looking forward to retiring. Flying the falls was amazing - down on the ground you could see the canyon as we traipsed along the top of one side of it, but from the air you can see how it was a like a crack that opened in the earths crust, creating the magnificent falls. It was wonderful being able to see the entire area. The Zambezi River must be relatively shallow at the top, because after the falls it is confined to a narrow canyon for quite some distance.
After our ride we were returned to our hotel (with a
van full of Californians and a couple of New Zealanders) where a quiet drink by the pool as we perused our photos, recounting the magnifence of the falls was in order! Shepherd, the friendly bar man/waiter/maître ‘d was delighted to see us, as he has been at all times.
Dinner tonight was a buffet, due to the fact that we had been inundated with a bus load of lovely Japanese tourists. The internet, since their arrival, has been dodgy, I think due to the strain on it. Everyone has their phone with them at the dining tables, taking calls etc. This blog has had to be left until the early hours of the morning to enable the uploading of photos etc. Dinner was an amazing collection of accents and languages, alongside the Japanese we heard British and European accents, as well as people from various other African countries.
A most amazing day!
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