A Travellerspoint blog

Victoria Falls

Zimbabwe

sunny 34 °C

After a 24-hour journey involving three flights via Amsterdam (where we marked time by watching time being marked in this performance art installation) and Nairobi, we have arrived at the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

Schiphol clock

My nearest and dearest know all too well how I have loved the word “Zimbabwe” for many years, choosing to substitute this word for those in any song. Pleasingly (for me!) each verse or phrase ends randomly on either “zim” “bab” or “we” but I am always most pleased when it ends on a sonorous and vibrant “zim!”

We both got very excited during the last 15 minutes of the flight from Nairobi as we were about to land at Victoria Falls Airport. We saw the mightily Zambesi River is it spreads out into multiple channels before plunging over Victoria Falls. And then we flew over the bush, well not one bush but a heck of a lot of bushes. I guess that’s why it’s called the ‘bush’. But I know that in Africa they like to keep plurals sounding singular, eg ‘lion’ even when there many. It sounds more sort of rugged and cool. I searched in vain for elephants from the porthole which should have been visible from a couple of thousand feet up. During the taxi ride from the airport I also scoured the bush to no avail although we did see a cheeky group of baboons playing by a bridge.

Before leaving the airport, we had to pay $25 for our visas and had colourful forms glued into our passports, a permanent souvenir of our trip.
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It is pretty hot here, in the mid-30s, and we struggle at times with the heat. So far, we have coped by returning frequently to our air conditioned little room and having lots of little rests and pacing ourselves.

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I love hearing Zimbabwean people speaking, whether in their native tongue or in English. They also seem generally very happy and smiley and they are friendly, even those who are not trying to sell you something. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people hassling you to buy crafts, helicopter rides over the Falls or taxi rides. I am developing increasingly varied strategies to be both firm and polite including “thank you, but I am exactly where I want to be right now”. Clearly there is a great deal of poverty here with people so patently desperate to sell or beg from you and small children being used by their parents to extort our pity.

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We bought some stone carvings of three pregnant ladies from Christopher who, liked many people, seems excited by the fact that we hail from near Manchester. Here he is in his Man U shirt:

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We haven’t been on safari yet, but already we have seen animals wandering around the town including vervet monkeys, and families of baboons and warthogs. Whilst siting in our favourite café drinking smoothies, a baboon sauntered past, up-ending a rubbish bin to explore its contents.

Yesterday morning we walked the mile or so from our hotel in the town of Victoria Falls to the Falls themselves, obviously a major tourist attraction, so quite crowded. But we woke early and got ourselves there at about 8.30am whilst it was cooler and before hoards started arriving. It was every bit as spectacular as expected. As the weather warmed up, the massive spray that comes up from the gorge 100 metres below was a welcome coolant. I wanted to say, "I won’t try to describe it and let the photos and videos speak for themselves." However our internet connection isn't sufficient here to upload videos - very annoying as I had linked them with as new splicing app on my phone. Perhaps somewhere else I will be able to show the videos. In the meantime, here are some of Jane's photos:

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Dr Livingstone I presume?

Yesterday evening we went to a sort of Spanish-African fusion restaurant. I ate my first crocodile (not a whole crocodile obviously – I couldn't manage a whole one) and it wasn’t bad. It just tasted like some sort of meat and was tasty. That’s all I can tell you really. Jane said I was brave. I asked the waitress how the various meats were sourced and was told that everything was wild except the crocodile which was farmed. I have never heard of a crocodile farm. Have you?

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Victoria Falls is clearly a big tourist attraction, particularly for backpackers which, as well as the hotels and cafes that have sprung up in the town, has led to countless additional attractions. The list of activities in which we will not be partaking include cage swimming with crocodiles, jet boats, quad biking, rafting and bungee jumping from the 100-metre high bridge which spans the Zambesi down river from the Falls and connects Zimbabwe to neighbouring Zambia. (However, we did go as far as walking across the bridge, so we could set foot in Zambia and add it to our list of countries visited.)

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The reason why we are not doing any of these is because we are too scared!

But there are other activities we won’t be doing because we feel uncomfortable about them in a different way: Apart from the cost, the helicopter flights over the Falls seems overindulgent when we are feeling guilty enough as it is about our contribution to global warming with all the flights we are taking this year.

And “Walk with Lions” sounds wonderful. But even their own promotional video put us off, showing extremely docile lions being stroked by tourists and the lions not apparently enjoying it. It didn’t take much digging around on Google to confirm what we suspected, that what is billed as a scheme to help the conservation of lions is more like a profit-making business of breeding lions in captivity to make them unnaturally docile and exploiting the goodwill of tourists plus their desire to take selfies whilst stroking lions to put on their Facebook pages. You may recall a photo of Emily and a lion cub on the first entry of this blog. She was also working on a conservation scheme in South Africa on her gap year in 2009 and discovered that all was not as it seemed. In fact, she became rather unpopular when she started asking too many questions. As Groucho Marx might have said, “I wouldn’t want to meet a lion that didn’t want to eat me.”

Posted by Robin Logie 04:48 Archived in Zimbabwe

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Comments

Amazing photos!
Great to read your travel news
Lots of love
Chris and Sheila

by Chris Bowler

Nice seeing you have a good time. I seen your post together with Usia and we both have wonderful memories from our last years visit to the Victoria Falls.

by Ulf

It's great to hear about your adventures.
Jane....looks like your new camera is coming in very handy - great shots
Look out for any interesting small beauties : moths, butterflies & dragonflies. I would love to see some and negotiate uwith you about using any pics for my art projects ... :-)

by Sue Warren

Also..hope that is beer and not river water
:-)

by Sue warren

Really enjoyed reading your post. I was there with mum and dad during my Gap year 20 years ago. Mum and I did the rafting, and I the bungee jump. We can therefore (and justifiably so) call you wimps ;). Lots of love, Sasha

by Sasha Logie

Glad you're enjoying yourselves

by Ralph

Great photos - Victoria Falls is definitely on our list!


BTW - Think your very brave having crocodile!

by Diane Ogden

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