We arrived to the Victoria Falls International Airport in Zimbabwe around midday and were able to obtain the new Kaza Visa without a hitch. For those of you planning to visit the falls and would like to view the falls from both the Zimbabwean and Zambian side this visa is for you. It costs $50 USD (cash only) and is a multiple entry visa for both countries for a period of 30 days. You can obtain 3 of these visas per year, which is handy for us as we will be returning to Vic Falls on our overland tour for 2 days.
We split a cab into town with a nice Finnish couple and were dropped at our backpackers, aptly named Victoria Falls Backpackers. We chose this over Shoestring Backpackers despite it being outside of the city center as we read people had security concerns at Shoestring. Staying a few kilometers outside of the town center also meant we ran into or out of town each day, killing two birds with one stone! We had a great place to set our tent up and the weather was delightfully warm compared to our last week so we were happy campers, pun intended.
Our first order of business was to head into town and buy our groceries for our 4 day stay. Browsing the grocery store we realized how spoiled we had been in South Africa with the incredible selection and quality of food available. We would have to be creative in our meals using what was available. We made a tuna pasta salad our first evening and it was pretty dreadful. I had a really hard time with it and think tuna is a no-go for a while now. We improvised after that failed attempt by making porrige and toast each morning for breakfast, eating a late lunch at a restaurant, and making popcorn as a snack each evening. We had full stomachs and that is all that mattered! I forsee multivitamins in our near future.
We headed to the Zimbabwean side of the falls the next day for our first day of exploring. It was a solid 5 km run to the falls and we encountered baboons and warthogs on our way through town. The cost to enter the falls from Zimbabwe is $30 USD per person. About two-thirds of the falls are on the Zimbabwe side, and the remaining one-third on the Zambian. We walked the entire length of Zimbabwean side, getting absolutely soaked along the way as the water was still very high from the rainy season. This meant there was a lot of mist generated from the falls and therefore not the most clear viewing. We are interested to compare this trip with our trip in August to see the difference the water level makes, we will let you know!
Despite not having the clearest views the falls were impressive beyond belief. The power of that much water flowing over the edge of the cliff was captivating. We enjoyed stopping at all the viewpoints to take in the different angles of the curtain of water. The lighting was tough for picture taking so we are dark in a lot of the pictures but you get the idea!
The following day was a relaxation and laundry day. It was quite expensive to have our laundry done but we desperately needed it, so we dug out our bar of laundry soap and handwashed and hung to dry as much of our laundry we could do. I had a smile as I was washing and Chris was hand wringing and hanging the clothing thinking of if our mothers could see what we were up to. It took a solid few hours to get it all done and I stopped to think how essential a washing and drying machine are at home. Another reason to be thankful for all that we are blessed with in our “regular” lives.
The following day we headed to the Zambian side of the falls. This required us to be stamped out of Zimbabwe, walk a few kilometers in no-mans-land to Zambia, and then be stamped into Zambia. After being stamped out of Zimbabwe and on the walk to Zambia we crossed the famous Victoria Falls Bridge where they have all of the adrenaline activities. This is also the bridge made famous in 2012 when a bungee jumpers rope broke and she plummeted into the crocodile infested Zambezi river below. Luckily she survived with minimal injuries. We stopped to watched two girls who were getting geared up to do the bungee and we were pretty taken aback with what we saw. First of all the rope was in much worse condition than the rope that was used for our jump in South Africa. Second of all they use regular bath towels around your ankles to pad them against the rope they use. Finally, the best part of all, rather than attach a backup line to your chest like they did in South Africa for our jump, they put a lifejacket over your head. Just incase you end up in the river, right? With all of that being said hundreds of people jump and they are fine yadayadayada, but my personal recommendation if you would like to bungee would be to do it at FaceAdrenaline in South Africa. It was an extremely professional operation and very focused on safety.
The rest of the walk between the two countries was a little dodgy as there were hundreds of trucks waiting to cross the borders and hundreds of people milling about trying to sell you things. We made it with no issues and paid the $20 USD entrance fee for the day to enter the Zambian Vic Falls Park.
The Zambian side, although only containing one-third of the falls, was more impressive than the Zimbabwean side at the time that we visited as you are much closer to the falls and thus they were much clearer. We did a short hike down to the ‘Boiling Pot’ and on the way witnessed one of the more hilarious wildlife encounters in all of our travels. A local couple was ahead of us and each had a bottle of water and the girl also had a bottle of orange Fanta. A baboon came out of the bushes and sat on the path obstructing the way. From his body language we could tell he wanted something, baboons are notorious for shaking people down for food. However, it quickly became apparent that what he was after was the orange Fanta! She placed the bottle on the ground and the cheeky devil walked by it and picked it up as you or I would and walked away with it! He promptly began pouring it on the ground and drinking it. Chris and I joked he prefered Coke but takes Fanta as a second option. We were happy our backpackers had warned us not to carry any food with us as the baboons will do anything to get it!
That evening was spent by the fire chatting with several other guests. Luckily one of those guests happened to be on the same flight as us the next day and mentioned he had been contacted by priceline who he booked with to let him know the flight had been changed. We hadn’t received any communication so we quickly got on the horn to get things figured out. It had in fact been delayed by several hours, which is better than being earlier!
We were able to sleep in a bit the next day before heading to the airport. We were rather annoyed at the airport as they have implemented a new $50 USD departure tax and despite having booked our flights before it was implemented (which we vehemently argued until we had to board) they made us pay it. Most tickets now include this tax but because ours were booked pre-tax, it should have meant we were exempt. Something to bear in mind when booking tickets from the Vic Falls Airport!
We made it to O.R Tambo airport in Joberg a few hours later than originally planned but made it through passport control and customs without a hitch. We were picking our car up for our second month in South Africa at the airport so it was much more convenient. My next post will cover the first week back in South Africa!