September 3, 2010
Victoria Falls also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya (meaning the smoke that thunders) is the world’s largest waterfall and is considered one of the seven great natural wonders of the world. It is not actually the tallest or widest waterfall in the world, but when the height and width are combined it makes the largest in the world. The falls are actually in two countries, the water falls in both Zimbabwe and Zambia and there is a small bridge that connects the two countries, which extreme adventurers can bungee jump off. Victoria Falls is a great place for those seeking adventure sports. There is bungee jumping, white water rafting, canoeing, kayaking, hang gliding and more. For the tamer of heart, you can also go on game drives or walks around the area.
We stayed at the historic Victoria Falls Hotel, which was built in 1904. The hotel has a very colonial feel about it, which was interesting to experience, but also very strange. I kept wanting to explain that I was not an evil white man who colonized Africa. I am of poor Russian peasant blood and the evil white man has also persecuted my people. However I kept my mouth shut and just felt a bit eerie walking by the stuffed game heads on the wall and all the hotel staff dressed in colonial servant wear.
The hotel is beautiful and much bigger than I had expected. It was fun to just walk the halls and look at the old pictures and maps on the walls. The rooms are decent size with a large bed with mosquito net, which wasn’t really needed, but was fun to sleep under. The hotel has a pool with nice lounge chairs and a bbq area and a large outdoor buffet restaurant behind it for breakfast and dinner. There is also a nice patio for lunch and high tea on the hotel grounds from which you can watch the spray of the waterfall. There is also a formal restaurant in a large ball room, which I found overrated and not very good. We actually ventured to the nearby Ilala Lodge the second night for dinner and had a wonderful meal there.
We arranged a sundowners river cruise the first night, which was pretty horrible, but mostly because of the drunk German group on board. &Beyond had booked it for us, and we were surprised because the rest of the safari had been very high class and intimate. We were expecting a much smaller boat and a less drunk and raucous clientele. We saw smaller boats on the river with just 4 or 5 people on them and if there hadn’t been hippos and crocodiles in the river I would have jumped ship to swim over to them. The cruise was sent off by a group of local singers who dressed in traditional animal skins and sang local songs and then Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, which just made us feel even more awkward and uncomfortable. I would recommend requesting a smaller, less commercial boat for a nicer evening, because the actual water and sunset is quite beautiful to watch.
Visiting the Falls themselves is quite beautiful and we really enjoyed the experience. Because the Falls are in a gorge the pounding water bounces off the sides and causes a ton of spray so you get very wet and the ground is very slippery. I suggest good shoes with lots of traction and a water proof covering for your camera. Be sure to look out for rainbows, we saw at least 10 including a few double and even one triple rainbow.
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