The Victoria Falls are considered one the natural wonders of the world. And even though I went during “dry season” they were still spectacular. The pictures I took definitely do not do justice to the magnificence of the falls, the cliffs, the deep gorges cut by the river or the scenery.
When I entered the park, I was asked by a very nice young park ranger if this was my first time at the falls. When I said that it was, he offered to take me around and show me everything. There was no charge (although I gave him a sizeable tip, because he made my experience so much more informative and fun.) His name was Francis.
“Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”
There was a large statue of David Livingstone near the park entrance. He was the first European to see the falls and he named them after his queen.
My first glimpse of the falls took my breath away. The sight of the silver water, cascading down the mile-high cliff was just…well, “beautiful” seems inadequate. During the rainy season, all the bare rock you see in these pictures is covered with water, and the falls are one huge wall of water, thundering down and creating a smoke-like mist that can make it difficult to see the falls themselves. In fact, the local (and official) name for Victoria Falls is “Mosi-oa-Tunya” which means “Thundering Smoke.”
We could see the bridge that separates Zambia from Zimbabwe. You can walk across this bridge (you have to go through customs to do so!) and also bungee jump off it! There were some people bungee-ing when we were there…you could hear them screaming with delight (or fear?) as they bounced down and back.
After we had taken in the view from several vantage points, Francis asked me if I would like to walk down to the “Boiling Pot.” This is a place where the water comes rushing in from several directions, creating a churning pool, as if the water were boiling. He told me that the path down took about 15 minutes, but going back up would take about 25 and that I would be “very tired.”
Of course I said, “Yes!”
It was a lovely place; shady and cool. I took off my shoes and socks and soaked my feet in the water. I would have loved to sit there for the afternoon!
On the way back up (which was tiring, but not a bad climb!) we stopped to rest where a large family of baboons was hanging out under a big tree, playing and chattering in a very human fashion. There was a mother nursing her baby and after the baby was done, it peeked out over its mothers arms to look at us.
Back at the top, I realized that I was starving. I thanked my guide and took off for the refreshment stand. The only food that they had besides snack-type things like chips or candy were meat pies. So that’s what I had for lunch…and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a proper British-style pasty, with a wonderfully flaky crust and deliciously spiced beef and potatoes inside. I devoured it, along with a bottle of fruit punch.
When I got back to my B & B, I took a hot shower and sat in the cool of the gazebo for a while, with a cup of tea. Then it was time to go on the cruise. The proprietor had recommended the “cheaper” cruise; he said they served free drinks and you could see much more from the smaller boat! Four other people from the B & B were also going, so we had a nice group.
It was a wonderful evening. We were served a huge plate of appetizers, there was an open bar and then we had a braai (charcoal bar-b-que) with chicken and sausage, plus salad, cole slaw and rolls. We watched the “rich people” boat gliding near us and decided that we definitely got the better deal. (Apparently that cruise cost almost three times as much and there was no food or drinks included!)
We saw elephant, hippo and some beautiful birds…also more baboons and a warthog who came snuffling down to the edge of the river. Unfortunately, he was camera shy.
And as the boat turned around to head back to the dock, we were treated to a Zambian sunset.
I plan to return to the falls in March, to see it during the rainy season…in all its thundering, smoky glory.
(Oh, and I took a different bus line back! Much more comfortable and no blaring music – although they did start with a prayer for safe travels. And given the state of Zambian roads and the way people drive, was not a bad thing!)