Monday, October 15, 2012

Zimbabwe: Victoria Falls

Sunday 14 October 2012

Well, the handover of the apartment went surprisingly well and we left the 30th of August on our southern African adventure.

Our first destination was Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and we timed the visit for the end of August to take advantage of the full moon which produces a lovely phenomenon known as the Lunar Rainbow.  We didn't get any good pictures but it was lovely. Next day, when we saw how close we had come to the unbarricaded edge of the rocks marked as "Slippery and Dangerous" (a sign that wasn't visible at night), we wondered how so many people crowded right up to the steep dropoff managed to get home safely. Or maybe not all did and we just didn't hear the scream. Hmmmm.

We stayed at the historic Victoria Falls Hotel which is an easy walk to the falls (if you discount all the people trying - some very aggressively - to sell you cheap souvenirs along the way). I had discovered an online special which gave us a "deluxe" room for the same price as a standard so we took that. Turns out it was a suite. The hotel is amazing, very Rule Britannnia, if a little tired around the edges. We loved it.


Two dead animals lying on the floor. There were a lot of dead things in this hotel.

At night, the turn down service carefully lowered all the mosquito netting. The first night, Greg got so tangled up in the netting, he almost wet himself trying to get to the bathroom. After that, we retied the netting before retiring. In spite of the fact that we had been advised to start a malarial pill regime before we left Switzerland, there really were no mosquitos. It was, after all, the dry season.


Hotel from the air.

I had been very excited about the possibility of seeing warthogs and we saw our very first ones on the grounds of the hotel. Later, we would learn they are as numerous as bedbugs but we never did tire of seeing the comical little guys, especially when they were kneeling to eat or running off with their tails standing straight on end like bicyclist's flags.

We took the "Flight of Angels" helicopter flight over the falls. The helicopter only held three passengers and there were three couples so Greg and I volunteered to split up. For once, good intentions paid off as both Greg and I had the best seat - the one right beside the pilot. The flight was amazing. I'm going to have to dig out the Thesaurus or I'll be using amazing to describe every aspect of the whole trip. Well, maybe not the flat tire or the food in Aus.

The bridge crossing the Zambezi River separates Zimbabwe (right) from Zambia (left).

Later in the day, we walked along the length of the falls and it was - you guessed it - amazing.

If you look carefully, you can see an elephant crossing the river (top left). Throughout our trip, Greg insisted on telling anyone who was unlucky enough to be in his immediate vicinity about this elephant and how it was a metaphor for wildlife sighting: If we'd been there five minutes earlier or later, we wouldn't have seen it. (That's the short version - he embellished.) If I'd known he was going to trot out that story so often, I would have pushed him over the falls and saved myself the aggravation.

Lots of double and even tertiary rainbows.

See the crazy tourists on the Zambia side? They sit in a pool looking over the falls.

Here they are again. This picture shows just how strong the falls are in that area.

THIS is as close as I was willing to get to the falls! Notice they don't believe in molly coddling the tourists with barriers to keep them from falling over the edge.

The town of Victoria Falls is small. We wandered around the town and market and then had lunch at an awesome place called Mamma Africa. There, I had kudu stew with a peanut butter sauce and peanut butter rice. Sounds crazy but both were delicious. Unfortunately, it was the only really authentic African food we found on our trip.
After two days, it was on to Mana Pools for our African Safari. But I'll save that for the next blog. Greg and I managed to generate about 4000 photos each and it's taking us a long time to go through them and weed them down to a manageable number. The old days of film did have some advantages!



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