Day 21 – 24/08/2017 Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
It was an early rise at 5:30am. After breakfast we were heading off to the Victoria Falls. We will cross into Zimbabwe at the Kasangula border post. We were warned that we needed to be there early so as to avoid the crowds as this is a particularly busy border crossing.
Just after breakfast we headed to the meeting point to await the driver who was to take us on a tour to the Victoria Falls. Or that’s what we thought? We opted to use the guest house tour service so as to get through the border as quickly as possible. As it turns out we needn’t have bothered as they did not assist us at the border and it was not a tour but a courier service.
There seemed to be some sort of hiccup as the driver was late. The owner came to talk to us and was in a state of panic. He informed us that they had run out of water and many of their guests were very angry and disgruntled and were threatening him with non payment.
Apparently for seven years this side of town has never had any water. On finding this out we enquired as to where their water actually came from. The owned replied ‘Oh we just go and collect it in a big drum from the river’. Luckily we had our own supply of drinking water. I was really pleased I hadn’t ingested any of the unpurified river water although I did however have a bath the previous night. I wondered why the water was so brown. Hopefully there wasn’t anything too sinister lurking in there. Apparently this Guest House only got electricity installed 2 years ago. This really puts things into perspective. Coming to Africa is always so challenging and humbling and makes me realize how lucky I am to live in a first world country. Most of these things we just take for granted.
Our driver Simon delivered us at the border by 7am and there was already quite a queue. Luckily at this time of day it wasn’t too bad. There were so many trucks lined up to go through the border but these were channelled through a different route.
It took us about 30mins to get through without a hitch. When we were finished Simon walked us to the exit point where he introduced us to his brother Tadedza who was to be our driver on the Zimbabwe side.
We drove about 70 klms into Zimbabwe to the falls. Tadedza wanted to first show us where he lives so he made a small detour. The next stop, on my request was the large baobab tree situated close to town. Here David purchased his first three soapstone items from the vendors on the side of the road. They all vied eagerly for his attention hoping to make a sale. While David was busy doing some heavy negotiating I took some quick photos of the magnificent baobab tree.
The big baobab
As we headed off I carefully wrapped David’s statues into my soft camera pouch to protect them. Tadedza placed the wrapped statues into the glove compartment for safe keeping. Tadedza dropped us off at the falls entrance and told us we were now on our own and we would need to walk wherever we needed to go. He arranged to meet us at 2:30pm at the main entrance to the Victoria Falls Hotel after which we would need to make our way back to the border.
Entrance to the Victoria Falls
We spent about 2 hours walking the breadth of the falls and back again to the entrance. Such an awesome sight. It was a beautiful clear day with not much spray so the conditions were good for taking photos. Although I have seen the falls before it always takes my breath away. A spectacular sight. This particular day there were a lot of tourists and viewing was crowded. I couldn’t even take a photo of the David Livingstone statue as it was perpetually surrounded by people. I decided to take a photo of a Vervet monkey sitting on the sign instead.
A curious Vervet monkey
It was now getting hot and I was really happy that I had brought an umbrella.
The mighty Victoria Falls
Heading towards the bridge and Batoka Gorge
Victoria Falls bridge
After the Falls we took a short walk to the Lookout Cafe which sits above the Batoka Gorge. Unfortunately on the dirt pathway walk there was a young vendor who latched onto me. Following alongside me he relentlessly badgered and harrased me to by his rather large soapstone carving. No way could I fit this in my limited luggage and I was not there to purchase anything. I did feel really sorry for him but eventually had to be really blunt with him to stop him from following me.
The splendid view from the Lookout Cafe must surely be one of the best overlooking the Batoka Gorge. Down below you can see the rafts bobbing up and down as they venture out to the rapids. You can also see the adventurers rushing past suspended high above the gorge strapped into the flying fox slide.
Entrance to the Lookout Cafe
Batoka Gorge looking towards the Victoria Falls bridge
As it was hot we opted for a lovely cold slushy which went down a treat! Now feeling somewhat refreshed we walked on another pathway up to the iconic Victoria Falls Hotel for lunch.
We sat on the veranda overlooking the beautifully manicured garden which rolled down to another viewing point towards the falls. By now I had built up quite an appetite and looked forward to lunch. While waiting we were entertained by some banded mongoose who scuttled across the fresh green lawn to sip droplets of water from a garden tap. They attracted many admirers who gathered round to take photos.
Thirsty banded mongoose
Breathtaking view from the Victoria Falls Hotel
After a lovely light lunch we went for a little stroll around the hotel gardens. After which we strolled into the lavish interior rooms of the hotel before heading off to the Larry Norton Art Gallery. I met Larry a few years before when I hosted an African Art Safari to raise funds for rhino conservation. Part of my tour was a visit to his home and studio but unfortunately he was not at the gallery this day. The gallery curator proudly showed us his beautiful work!
Spotted this beautiful water lily in one of the ponds
The plush colonial interior of the Victoria Falls Hotel
As it was nearly time to be collected we headed to the entrance to await Tadedza’s arrival. Another driver came to collect us as Tadedza was held up at the airport. He was very well informed and chatty. On the way to the border we saw lots of lovely trees with yellow flowers glistening in the afternoon light of the setting sun. We got through the border pretty quickly. The young driver phoned Simon to let him know we were back.
On the way back to our accommodation just on the other side of the border we saw some elephants, baboons, egrets and impala, the first animals for the day other than a lone bush buck and some vervet monkeys at the falls. It had been a long day and we both welcomed an early evening.
A superb end to another wonderful day in Africa