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Water, water everywhere

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Thursday, February 7

This morning was a little bit later start, getting up at 6:45. That gave us plenty of time to eat breakfast and be ready for an 8:10 pickup for our tour of Victoria Falls. This time it was a group tour and we were the first ones on the little bus with Jo. After quick stops at two other hotels, we were on the way.

The drive itself didn’t take long before we arrived at the National Park entrance on the Zimbabwe side. There were 6 of us with Jo (myself and Brenda along with two English couples) and then 2 other couples went off for Spanish or French tours. First order of business was getting our rain ponchos (oh boy, here we go again). Between the sky not looking the best and the mist that can blow off the falls, it was a pretty sure bet we were in for another wet morning.


We saw the map of what was referred to as “The Smoke That Thunders” by the indigenous tribes and got the lowdown on the walk. There is a path that runs along the Falls for about 2 miles and contains 16 viewing points. Some were better than others and some were drier than others. At the last Danger Point spot, you can see across to the Zambia side.


Most of us started off descending the 38 steps to Chain Walk where you get your first real look at things. By this point you’ve already been hearing the mass of water and imagining what it would look like. Basically it’s a giant wall of never ending foam and water smashing down and throwing up some serious spray (upwards of 60 feet in some spots). Over to the left you see where the calm waters are coming from the river and start speeding over and down the rocks. It’s unreal how quickly it changes. Although it’s not the highest or widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest based on its combined height, width and flow rate.


Then we backtracked a little to avoid the other tour group that was near us. We needed to see the statue of David Livingstone, the first European to see the Falls and share news of it with the world back in 1855. He’s also the one that renamed it in honor of Queen Victoria. From there we headed to the path, which takes you through the rainforest to the viewing points. The final stop (well besides the gift shop of course) is a point overlooking the bridge that connects Zambia to Zimbabwe. 116 years old, this is also the bridge where people bungee jump and swing over the Zambezi River...but that is definitely not on our to do list.


The walk itself is pretty much a blur, from one photo op to the next. Between the crashing water and the intermittent rain and the winds blowing the mist all over us at times, it was hard to focus. Not to mention trying not to slip on the wet rocks and keep the camera relatively dry. The pace itself was good, with all of us sticking together and chatting and Jo giving info and pointing out some of the best places to snap a pic. He even played photographer for everyone at a few points, but sadly some of those pics turned out all blurry 😭 Thankfully we do have one of the both of us at the Danger Point and I am hoping I got at least a few nice ones of just the Falls themselves. But unless you are a professional, probably with a drone, I just can’t imagine being able to truly capture the scope of things. With no sun, we also weren’t blessed with any rainbows glinting off the mist either.


All in all, it was a good morning and quite the sight to see. Knowing what we know now though, I’m not sure if the extra time and money was worth the trip here or if extra safari days or a trip to Blyde River Canyon would’ve been better 🤷🏽‍♀️ But it doesn’t pay to second guess things now as we’ve seen it, can put a pin in it and scratch it off our maps...with no desire to come back. The town itself isn’t what we had envisioned either. So we’ve just been chilling at the hotel, eating lunch here and waiting for our 3:55 pickup for the Zambezi River Cruise. Here’s hoping that utterly dazzles as we have heard very good things from other people.


I am happy to report that the cruise was fabulous! Luckily we were on one of the smaller sunset dinner cruise boats, which has little tables with four chairs each and just one deck instead of the packed boats with rows of chairs. We made several hotel stops on the way to the dock to pick up other cruisers. Around 4:30 or so, the boat finally got all loaded and shoved off.


The captain introduced himself, as well as the chef and bartender and assistant. It was cute that every time they had an announcement to make, they’d get our attention by saying, “hello good people...” really loud. The captain also told us about the river and its history, but all I really caught was that we will keep a safe distance of at least 2km (1.25 miles) away from the Falls.


Through out, you could order drinks from the well stocked bar and they kept bringing around little snack sampler platters for each table (all of which was included 💃🏽🥂). We tried quite the variety of things, from meatballs and chicken wings to mini veggie quiche and fried halumi cheese (very close to giant cheese curds 😋). And then they had to throw one odd one in there and bring out crocodile skewers, which just tasted like chicken. But I found it a bit rude to be eating crocodile right in front of an actual crocodile 🤷🏽‍♀️😝


The Zambezi River and it’s surrounding area is home to quite a few things. They pointed out so many different birds, I just zoomed in and snapped the shot having no idea what I was seeing. In the one spot along the river, there was an elephant just snacking on some leaves. As noted above, we did see a crocodile. But the biggie for the Zambezi is the abundance of hippos. It is fairly shallow in spots, which is perfect for them as they aren’t very good swimmers and need to walk along the bottom with their little legs. Then they’ll jump or bob up to the surface to take a breath (or give one to any babies riding on their backs) and just keep on walking. We had two really cool encounters - the first of which was seeing a hippo on land getting into the water. Don’t think I’ve ever seen that one before! And second was on the way back, when we had two big groups (pods did he call them?!) of hippos on either side of the boat. They were making their “look at me and how big I am” grunts & noises, as well as flashing their giant mouthed open move. It was quite the sound and sight to behold.


And while all that action was going on, the sky was giving us all sorts of creative looks. There were the puffy clouds and the various shades of blue. And then we could see these sections of rain off in the distance that really played with the colors and the way the sun shown through, but which thankfully never brought rain to us. Part way through the bus ride back to Batonka, a proper orange, pink and magenta sunset broke out over the tree lines. Zooming along there was no way to capture it, so just sit back and take your mental photos for future reference 📷


We decided to go check out one of the oldest hotels in town (built by the British in 1904 for railway workers), Victoria Falls Hotel. It’s this gorgeous place with all these great photos of British royalty visiting the area lining some of the walls. They also have a gallery for Larry Norton, who paints amazing animal and landscape images from the area (and only paints things he has seen with his own eyes as we were informed by Alice at Batonka). While we were walking around, we actually ran into one of the ladies from the tour this morning, the one who’s birthday it was! We chatted a bit and she told us how that afternoon, they walked to the center of Victoria Falls Bridge, which had some incredible views.

And the real reason for our cab ride here was to check out their most reasonably priced restaurant, Stanley’s Terrace, to grab some dinner. I went with the lamb shawarma (similar to a gyro) and Brenda opted for the toasted cheese and tomato sandwich. We both had the delish fries that tasted just like McDonald’s. And since it would be our last dinner out in Africa, we split the sundae with chocolate croutons (basically shortbread cookie chunks), toasted marshmallows and caramel or butterscotch sauce. Just before it arrived, the other couple from this morning came walking by (both of the couples were actually staying at this hotel) and they too raved about their bridge crossing in the afternoon. Dang it, why didn’t we think to do that with our free time?! Epic fail...but maybe, just maybe we’ll have time to squeeze it in quick in the morning 🤞🏽


Posted by JackiesJourneys 16:04 Archived in Zimbabwe Tagged victoria_falls river_cruise zambezi

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