Day 10 – Tuesday 6 June: Victoria Falls
First up was a beautiful buffet breakfast in our lovely Kingdom Hotel.
Then we were off with our guide Lavelle on a walking tour of Victoria Falls, through the rainforest. He drove us to a spot about 10 minutes away from the hotel where we commenced the walk. We had been warned we would get wet (in fact soaking wet) due to the spray from the falls, so we all had rain ponchos however the guide also gave us raincoats which were fairly heavy duty. I had also suggested Norman not bring his camera gear (to which he duly complied).
Off we set on foot, through the lush rainforests that surround Victoria Falls. We took in the sights of the falls however sometimes (due to the volume of spray), it was complete white-out! It was fantastic though to get an up-close look at the rocky gorges that serve as steep channels for the Zambezi River, as well as Devil’s Cataract (the lowest point of the falls) and Main Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and Rainbow Falls. And we saw the statue of David Livingstone, the intrepid explorer who discovered these falls in 1855 and named them after Queen Victoria. And yes, the parts of our bodies/clothing that were not covered by our raincoats did get soaking wet! After our walk, we had coffee at the Rainforest Café at the falls, and I bought a Christmas ornament in the souvenir shop there.
After getting changed, we were out the front of the hotel when a Zimbabwean troupe sprang into action with their high-energy song and dance numbers. Well … Heather and I … never to let an opportunity like that pass us by … joined in!! They even adorned us with their tribal head dresses, then it was on! Then Steve joined in as well for a rendition of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’! It was all happening! After all that … what can I say but Heather’s high kicks are amazing!!!
After our song and dance fun, it was off to walk across the Victoria Falls Bridge. So off we headed in the direction of the bridge. Unsure of exactly how to get there, I suggested we take a path off the main route. Wrong move (it was the wrong path)! Within minutes, we were surrounded by local hawkers with their wares … and they kept coming! Then, seemingly from out of nowhere, an official ran in and forced the hawkers away. Turns out he was a member of the Zimbabwe Tourist Police whose job it is to provide security for tourists, and offer assistance in these types of situations. Anyway, he not only did that, but continued to escort us (on the correct path) towards the bridge. We made our way to the bridge, which also doubles as a border crossing because it connects Zimbabwe and Zambia. Because we were only walking the bridge, we were able to simply get a free bridge pass. Easy process! And we reached the bridge.
Opened in 1905, it was the inspiration of Cecil Rhodes. It was constructed in England by the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company, then shipped to the Mozambique port of Beira, and then railed up to Victoria Falls. In a feat of Victorian engineering, the bridge took just 14 months to build. From the bridge, the views of the falls and gorge were wonderful. One can bungee jump from the bridge, the 111 metres to the Batoka Gorge below!! We watched some daredevils do just that, then on we forged. By this time it was about 1:30pm so we headed to the Lookout Café for lunch, just down from the bridge. Perched 120 metres above the rapids of the Zambezi River, the café has spectacular views of the Batoka Gorge and the other activities that place there – the gorge swing and zip line. So we watched, with a bevy in hand, the brave punters that took on those challenges! Talk about a lunch with a million dollar view (even though they were a bit slow on bringing the meals)! Memory jog for Di, Heather and I: The stunning natural stone basins in the ladies restroom! And Heather struck her “no rhino is safe” pose!!!
After lunch we walked back to the Kingdom Hotel, in readiness for our afternoon sunset river cruise on the Zambezi River. We were collected by our Wild Horizons guide who took us to the river to meet up with our boat. On the way he stopped to show us a famous tree, ‘The Big Tree’, which is one of the world’s biggest baobab trees. People believe it is over 1,000 years old. The tree is 20 metres high and an incredible 18 metres in circumference.
As a side note, while we stopped there at the roadside, local hawkers seemingly sprang up out of nowhere, and came to the windows of our minivan, trying to sell their wares. I was fascinated to see that, after we said no and they retreated, they buried their wares under the ground surrounding the bushes there. I guess it saves them having to haul their wares around all the time!
We then arrived at the boat. Fabulous … it was a small group this day! There were only about another 10 people on the boat so it was nice and intimate. The cruise included all drinks so they brought out our wine and beer, and we set sail. Sightings included hippos, elephants, a crocodile, and even hang gliders! A real treat was seeing three elephants having a private pool party in the river! Wonderful! The cruise was lovely and relaxing, topped off with a gorgeous sunset.
After the cruise, we were dropped back at the Kingdom Hotel where we showered and changed. Then we walked down the road to the majestic Victoria Falls Hotel where we had drinks on Stanley’s Terrace. During daylight hours the Terrace has a view of the falls in the distance. Norman ordered a Scotch on the rocks and was duly served a 25-year old Scotch (at $30 a pop!) Di and I ordered Amurela, which had become my new favourite cream liqueur. Lovely pre-dinner drinks.
Then we headed off for dinner. Feeling like something a bit lighter, we went in search of pizza. After passing on Pizza Inn (fast food place!), we ended up at the Shearwater Café in the main street. And yes, thankfully they had pizza! So it was pizza all round, accompanied by house wine at $3.00 a glass! Pizza was good and so was the wine! And I loved the background music – old jazz standards from the 20’s and 30’s! Side note: Di and I saw the poster advertising cage diving with the crocs … game on!!!
Signing off another big day! Off to bed at the Kingdom Hotel …