There a are few places in the world that you only read about in the paper, or see on the news, and just think: I will never go there. Once of those places for me has undoubtedly been Zimbabwe. But when the opportunity to visit the biggest waterfall in the world presents itself, you go with it. An Victoria falls did not let me down…
After a long flight from London, we landed in Johannesburg, realised we had lost a bag, and settled down with a drink and the WiFi waiting for our connecting flight to Victoria Falls. It wasn’t the greatest start to our trip to Africa, but once we had landed, cleared immigration (which thankfully went smoothly) we quickly found the hostel collection bus and made our way to the town, and the falls.
Our first few night of our trip were booked to stay in a safari tent in Victoria Falls Backpackers. I knew it was going to be a tent, and therefore space and things to do would be at a premium, but I am not sure my brother was quite as prepared as I was. And one thing neither of us were prepared for was how early things shut down there. Everyone retires for the night as the sun goes down, around 6:30pm, so there was very little to do after that.
Luckily, early mornings are also part of the routine, so we got up and decided to walk down to the falls before it got too hot. They were just spectacular. We opted to view them from the Zimbabwean side first of all, and ended up walking the trail more than once to view the full length possible before we hit the gorge. I have seen some of the world’s greatest waterfalls, including Niagara, and I have to say that they were far and away the most impressive I have seen so far. The width and the depth was incredible. We got some great photos, got soaked by the spray rising from ”The Smoke that Thunders’, and managed to jump a lift some of the way back so we didn’t die walking in the sun.
On the second full day int he falls, we decided to put our double entry visas to use and cross the border into Zambia. Yes, it provided me with a chance to visit another country, and therefore add another pin to my map, but it also afforded us the opportunity to get some extra shots of the falls, and see it from a different angle. It also allowed us to see some of the greatest moments of the trip, the baboon stealing a Japanese lady’s sandwich, and a man nicknamed ‘crazy Jewish guy’ who crossed the falls at the top less than 75m from the edge with guides that seemed less than enthused by ideas such as Health and Safety.
While we crossed the bridge between the countries, we got to see people bungee jumping off the side alongside people begging, and it was a little surreal. Victoria Falls is a tourist trap, and therefore doesn’t represent a lot of Africa, so it was occasionally easy to forget where we were. Crossing the bridge also felt like crossing into Jurassic Park, so the place was so impressive, wild, and untouched that it felt like somewhere from a different world.
We left in time to make it back to South Africa before rioting broke out. Luckily that was a side to Zimbabwe we did not witness. What we saw was beautiful and incredible, and one of the best places I have ever seen.