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Published: September 17th 2009
After only a brief stay in Johannesburg I travelled back to the airport - to fly to Zimbabwe! I was very glad to leave Johannesburg. I woke up this morning freezing cold and when I looked out the window I found it was pouring with rain. I got to the airport early, had a brunch in the cafe and perused the gift shop before settling into the departure lounge with a book. I was amused to see a giant model giraffe looming over the departure board!
Although boarding was delayed we arrived in Zimbabwe on time. I stepped off the plane into beautiful sunshine, sauntered into the arrivals... and remained stuck there for the next two hours. Getting into Zimbabwe proved to be hugely stressful, not because there were actually any problems, but simply becasue it took so long to get everyone through arrivas and issued with the correct visa. I stood in the queue getting hot, stiff and increasingly irritable but not quite having the nerve to copy my American neighbour who dumped all her bags on the floor, moved to one side and began a full yoga routine right there in the middle of immigration! I finally got my
visa, picked up my rucksack which was unceremoniously dumped on the floor on the other side of the immigration desk and wearily trapsed through to the next room sure my driver must have given up and left. I was most relieved to see him standing there with my name on a card. He ushered me over to some seats encouraging me to 'come join our jungle crew'. The 'jungle crew' was a couple from New Zealand and a girl from South Africa. We waited a while longer and I enjoyed being off my feet and watching the comings and goings of the airport. I was quite bemused by the sight of a man walking out of the gents' toilets barefoot, dressed only in a blanket around his waist and carrying a long walking stick. Finally the last few people arrived and we all went to the taxi. The porters all took our bags and one chatted to me as we walked to our vehicle and wished me a pleasant stay in his country.
Our guide, Lizwe, got us all settled into the minibus and we set off. I enjoyed the drive. The countryside here is really pretty. The earth is a reddish coloured sand and while most of the trees are still bare some still have autumnal shaded leaves clinging to their branches and along the roadside dark green bushes boast flowers in startling shades of pink, red and violet.
As we reached the town Lizwe informed us that there is a population of about 50,000 nearly all of whom make their living off tourism. I suppose this fact may account for the 0% crime rate Victoria Falls apparently has. The town of Victoria Falls seems quite pleasant . We drove to a nearby hotel and dropped off most of the people on the bus excepting myself and the South African girl. Lizwe grinned and said we were the lucky ones. I soon saw why as we drove out of the town and up the hill.
Victoria Falls Safari Lodge is a bare 4 kilometres from Victoria Falls and is built at the top of a hill overlooking the Zambezi National Park and was built so as not to disturb the indigenous vegetation and natural environment of the unfenced national park.
We drove through the gateposts and to the front of the hotel where a man in traditional costume laid out a reed mat, pranced about and jabbered in his native langugae finishing with 'Welcome to Victoria falls' in perfect English. The other girl and I walked to reception and over a glass of fresh orange juice checked in, looked at the hotel plan and asked about our pre-booked trips and how to go about claiming our comlimentary meals and so forth. The man at reception initially thought we were travelling together as we were helping each other out and discussing our queries together. We explained we'd met each other at the airport and he thoguht it was nice we'd made friends so quickly... I am certainly glad to have someone to go to the restaurant with, I'd feel silly having to eat alone in the evening.
We left for our respective rooms and I settled in for a relaxing evening. I was supposed to go on the sunset cruise today but due to the delay at the airport have missed it. Lizwe simply shrugged and said 'so you want to do it tomorrow instead?' - it's nice that everything seems to run so smoothly here. I am quite content to spend the evening in my room. It is huge, beautifully decorated and has a large private balcony overlooking the national park and offering a perfect view of the sun setting over the waterhole.
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