Day 11: Victoria Falls morning and Johannesburg evening - Wed 03 Feb 2016


Advertisement
Zimbabwe's flag
Africa » Zimbabwe » Victoria Falls
February 3rd 2016
Published: February 21st 2016
Edit Blog Post

Up again early and down we went for a Jeff breakfast. The monkeys were being chased around the dining room. Outside the sun was shining, the geese were swimming in the pond, and we were excited to be going to the Victoria Falls.

.

So began my third water adventure. We boarded the vans and drove for five minutes down the road to the Victoria Falls Park. We were given waterproof ponchos for our walk along the falls.

.

We were greeted by a large statue of David Livingstone, the explorer who discovered the falls and named them after Queen Victoria. We walked a bit further and were greeted by the spectacular sight of the rivers rushing along. And then we saw the first of the falls and as we walked along the approximately 1.5 km path we were bowled over by the width of the falls. There is no overhang like at the Niagara Falls so it is not possible to sail under the falls or even walk under them. Nor is the river wide enough for tourist boats to sail close to the falls. Although we did see some people swimming in a pool at the top of the falls. There seemed to be a rainbow following us as we walked along.

.

As Don described in this blog of Day 9, the helicopter view over Victoria Falls was dramatically different from standing on the ground near it. For one thing the huge scale of it only hits you when you stare across the broad falls edge and especially down the crevice where the water plummets. Also the sound is only heard from the ground. The difference in perspective can partially be understood by comparing the Day 9 photographs that Don took from the helicopter with those in today's blog.

.

At the end of the Victoria Falls Park walk across from the falls, we came to the Victoria Falls Bridge. This was constructed in 1905 to span the Zambezi River. An impressive feat of Victorian Engineering, it was built at the behest of Cecil Rhodes. He wanted it as part of his plan to run railways all over Africa. He did not live to see it open, nor did he ever visit Victoria Falls himself. However he got his wish as both trains and road vehicles share the bridge. And yes it offers a bungee jump too.

.

The mist from the falls was really wet. It was like walking through a monsoon. As we walked along I said to Don that I felt very wet. He said that the poncho was waterproof so I must be imagining it. However, when I took off the poncho I was soaked through. I won the wet T-shirt competition!!!

.

We went back to the hotel and I had an hour before we went off to the final part of our holiday. So there was time for a hot shower and a change into dry clothes. Then it was back into the van and on our way to the airport.

.

Two weeks prior to our tour AACI ran the same tour but their plane from Zimbabwe had problems and so the group didn’t make it to Johannesburg. We sat and waited in the terminal for our plane and it arrived and we boarded on time and we set off. Once again this huge airport was empty of planes and the most we saw at any one time were two planes standing by the airstrip. Before we took off the air stewards came round spraying the plane just in case we were carrying any unwanted insects on our clothes. We had a kosher meal on board which was a real luxury. And more importantly, our flight was on time!

.

Then we arrived in Johannesburg. The capital of South Africa is Pretoria in the area which was the Transvaal. On the coach we learnt a bit about the history of Joburg. An Australian by the name of George Harrison went to South Africa to farm the land. In 1886 whilst working on a farm he noticed a funny stone and discovered that it contained gold. He got permission to dig for the gold but needed money for equipment. He didn’t have the money so he sold his claim for £10. Up to 1960 ten million tons of gold were mined every year.

.

How did Johannesburg get its name? The two men who mapped and planned the town were Christiaan Johannes Joubert and Johannes Rissik. They wanted to name the town after themselves and to add the word burg which means fortified city in Afrikaans. They applied to the prime minister Paul Kruger for approval. Kruger’s full name was Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger and so the two Johannes persuaded him that it was named after him.

.

As we drove into the city we noticed a large unfinished flyover which was started many years ago. The city is a mix of abject poverty interwoven with ostentatious wealth. We saw more evidence of this on our last day of the tour.

.

We drove to Sandton where we were staying for the night. Sandton is the financial centre of South Africa. It could be the City of London, New York or any other modern, affluent, skyscraper-filled city in the world. We were driving through the city in the rush hour and, again, like any city in the world, the traffic was horrendous. We arrived at the Holiday Inn where we were staying for the night. We were told not to wander out by ourselves at night as it was not safe.

.

On the coach, Amos told us that we were going to have a real treat that night. He had the best tickets in the house for a show. Then he told us the name of the show “Singing in the Rain”. Oh no said I - I don’t want to get wet again !

.

At the hotel we gathered in the hotel’s restaurant for dinner. It was a dinner provided by a kosher caterer in Johannesburg. Unfortunately it was another fish dinner. Poor Sol he doesn’t eat fish and he didn’t have a great time with the food.

.

After dinner we got onto the coach and drove to the Montecasino. What a place! This is a huge, and I mean huge, development of high class stores, restaurants, a theatre, a cinema complex and, of course, a casino all in an Italian theme setting. There are piazzas, a mini bridge of sighs, a canal. And in this development are thousands of people - mostly locals enjoying a great night out. We didn’t have seats in the first three rows (phew!) where the audience did get soaked. In fact we had great seats a few rows back and those of us who stayed for the whole show really enjoyed it.

.

We then went back to the coach to return to the hotel. Considering how many people were in the complex there was nobody walking along the streets. Anyone who exited the Montecasino entertainment centre got immediately into their cars and drove away. It was eerie!

.

Advertisement



Tot: 0.398s; Tpl: 0.025s; cc: 10; qc: 47; dbt: 0.0192s; 1; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb