5 Years Ago: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

We departed Chobe National Park via bus on Friday, November 4. A two hour ride that ended at the welcome sign of the Kazungula border post. Possibly the only real hassle of our entire trip, the border post was either understaffed or badly managed, a very long line of people jammed up in the heat. Eventually reaching the head of the line, the actual interaction with the official was short and simple.

We continued on the bus to our hotel, Ilala Lodge, which was a short distance from Victoria Falls. We were then shuttled to our riverboat, the Ma Robert, for a dinner cruise on the Zambezi River.

My time we spent in Zimbabwe was tinted by my ongoing gout flareup, which had one foot in agony much of the time. I was not in the best mood. So while waiting for the shuttle to the dinner cruise near the front of the hotel, a hawker was very aggressively trying to sell me some tourist junk. He would not take no for an answer, and I became less polite as he followed me. Eventually he gave up, but I remember it being the only negative interaction I had in Africa.

The river cruise itself was lovely and we watched a group of elephants for a time while dinner was prepared. I actually have no notable recollection of any of the meals we had at any of our stops, they were all first class and enjoyable. The sunset over the river was stunning.

Zambezi River Cruise
The Ma Roberts, our restaurant on the Zambezi River.

On Saturday, we met Sofret, our guide for the tour of the National Park. She led us on a walking tour to the main overlooks, the path to which wound through some very green forest. As it was late in the dry season, the river was low and the falls were not as wild as they get at other times, but the mist keeps the surrounding foliage very damp. Still a very impressive bit of geology and hydrology, despite the low flow.

Across the gorge from one of the view points, there were a group of tourists frolicking in a rocky pool, right on the edge of the 300 foot drop. It’s known as the Devils Pool, a spot on the Zambian side that is apparently popular with more adventurous folks. Not for me, thanks.

Inset showing the people in the Devil’s Pool.

The mist from the falls was nice, because it was very hot. Mom and I agreed after the tour that we were wiped out and needed an afternoon to just kick back and rest.

The next day would be all travel, as we had to fly back to Johannesburg before we could continue north to Tanzania and the Serengeti. We overnighted at a hotel airport and on Monday, November 7 we flew to the Kilimanjaro airport in Tanzania, with a stopover at Nairobi, Kenya. Our itinerary didn’t include any Kenyan adventures and we had to make do with what was inside the secure zone of the airport. The menu at a cafe there had fried termites, and Mom was game to try them. They really just tasted like very salty dried spinach, but hey, we tried.

In the next installment, we travel across the city of Arusha to the Maramboi Tent Camp at Tarangire National Park… to be continued.

(Click any image for larger versions and captions.)

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