Location: Victoria Falls (Zambia and Zimbabwe)
Today was perhaps the busiest tour day we’ve have in all of our travels together. We woke up at around 7:15, got breakfast, then hit the road to get an early start on seeing Victoria Falls.
Yesterday we had a tour of the falls from the Zambia side. Today we decided to freestyle view the falls on the Zimbabwe side. To do so, we had to walk from our hotel (Zambezi Sun) to the Zambia border control station near the Victoria Falls Bridge. Leaving Zambia was easy enough. Once we cleared the station and entered the no mans land of the bridge we were followed by some very persistent locals trying to sell their wares. They weren’t rude, nor did they appear threatening, but they didn’t take ‘no thanks’ for an answer. This continued until we got to the midpoint of the bridge and crossed into Zimbabwe.
Things were uneventful until we got to the Zimbabwe border control station. After our passports were stamped, we ran into Aaron, our guide from yesterday. He assisted us through the rest of the process, saving us some time. It helps to be good tippers. He had to go to another committement, so we broke off on our own towards the Zimbabwe park for the falls. Along the way, we encountered some more people trying to sell us knick-knacks. They were marginally less aggressive than those on the Zambian side.
All told, it took about 45 minutes to walk from our hotel to the Zimbabwe national park entrance. We didn’t have much time to spend here, because we had to get back to our hotel for another tour in about 2.5 hours. But 90 minutes in the park was enough time to see the various views of Victoria Falls. The Zimbabwe side was much more active, with tremendous amounts of water flowing over the sides of the cliffs.
The falls generated a lot of mist. Which forced us to have to wipe off or glasses and lenses numerous times.
The mist also created a miccro-climate rainforest. The hike through this area was even more startling a contrast compared to our hike yesterday. It was the most rainforesty rainforest we had ever vistited.
As we walked along the trail, we got to see Livingstone island and the Devil’s Pool up close from across the gorge.
After more hiking we made it to the end of the Zimbabwe side of the falls. By this point, the falls were dry. So we got some pictures of the cliff-face.
We then walked back to the hotel, passing through both countries border control stations once again. We encountered the same hucksters again, this time they eventually took ‘no thanks’ for an answer.
Back at the hotel, we quickly changed into swimclothes then set off for our first tour of the day. We took a golf cart shuttle to the Royal Livingstone Hotel next door, and then boarded a small boat to go to Livingstone Island. This location is where Dr. Livingstone became the first European to view the falls. Interestingly, one can almost walk to the island without getting wet several months of the year when the water level is low (such as now). During the wet months when the water level is higher, it becomes a true island.
Our guides gave us a very brief tour of the island, then they took us to the highlight of the island, the Devil’s Pool. This natural deep pool of water has a high wall, trapping all but a few centimeters of water from falling over the edge. It makes for some great photo opportunities.
Before, one can make it to the pool, you have to walk through some water (with very weak currents) to make it the section of the island with the pool. And walking on hot and coarse rocks is required both near the pool and on the main island before getting into the water. Watershoes or sandles are highly recommended.
We weren’t allowed to jump or dive into Devil’s Pool. Instead we have to slide down into it. There are several great areas for photos inside, including “the jacuzzi” where you face towards the edge of the falls
and the overhang itself. The guides have done this all before and know the best places and poses to have photographs. They’ve taken photos with all sorts of cameras and no how to operate all of them. They took some great pics and video of us at the overhang.
Ryan used the gopro to take some selfies and underwater shots, and over the falls shots to get a better idea of how Devil’s Pool works.
After about 10 minutes, it was the next groups turn and we had to get out. The last part of the tour was a nice Zambian style lunch. Great food. After lunch, we took a boat back to the hotel.
We had just enough time to change to get ready for our last tour of the day. We had a sundowner river cruise along the Mighty Zambezi River.
We boarded the African Princess several kilometers upstream of the falls. We had a 2 hours cruise along the Mighty Zambezi River. We were served unlimited drinks and had a small dinner. The highlight though was that it also served as a river safari. We criss-crossed the river many times, and slowly traveled along the banks to see various kinds of wildlife, including hippos, elephants, baboons, and many kinds of birds.
Despite hearing stories and warning about baboons the whole trip, we only encountered them for the first time today.
As the name suggests, we got to see sundown on the Mighty Zambesi River.
This was our last full day of the trip. Tomorrow morning we plan to get in a little R&R near the pool before leaving for the airport to go home.
Total Countries: 2 (Zambia, Zimbabwe)
Total Watercraft: 3
Total Steps: 22,593 (second only to our day at Disney Land)