Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls

My Botswana camping trip finished in the town of Victoria Falls, just over the border in Zimbabwe. I had most of the day to myself before meeting my son (Aaron) and daughter in law (Rachel) who were joining me there before flying on to Harare to volunteer for two weeks. At lunchtime I met up with Mulenga, who was the coordinator when I volunteered at a project in Livingstone just over the border in Zambia. It was so lovely to catch up with him, and we chatted solidly for over 2 hours.

As I headed back towards the hotel there were a couple of elephants browsing at the side of the road. This is quite normal, and the public have to be careful not to get too close. There are also Warthogs everywhere! These four were being shooed out of our hotel driveway.

Aaron & Rachel had just arrived when I got back, and once they’d freshened up after their overnight flight, we walked into the town of Victoria Falls to have a look around. I was surprised just how small the town is, considering it’s such a tourist destination.

The next day we visited Victoria Falls themselves. We all took waterproof ponchos with us as I knew that we would get absolutely drenched with the spray from the falls. They were very necessary, as on certain parts of the paths and viewpoints it was like standing under a power shower! Victoria Falls is known locally as ‘The smoke that thunders’, and the spray from them can be seen from far away and when flying into the local airports. Victoria Falls is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world. However, it is classified as the largest because its height and width result in the largest amount of water falling the highest distance. Just to put it in perspective, it’s twice the size of Niagara Falls in Canada.

There’s a huge statue of Dr. David Livingstone there, and various boards of information about him which I found fascinating. When he first visited the Falls, he was in the middle of an extraordinary journey across Africa that would catapult him to fame back in Europe and make him one of the most influential explorers of his generation. He was born into poverty in a Glasgow slum in 1813, but had a career spanning over 25 years in Africa, travelling 28,000 miles of uncharted territory. He dedicated the last five years of his life to shutting down the slave trade in East Africa and that was where his famous meeting with Henry Stanley took place, where Stanley greeted him with the now famous line ‘Dr Livingstone I presume?’ When he died in Zambia, his companions buried his heart there before carrying his preserved remains 1,000 miles back to the coast. He now lies in ‘Explorers Corner’ in Westminster Abbey, but his heart remains in Africa, which I think is just lovely 🙂

After strolling to our hotel, we walked a short distance down the road and treated ourselves to lunch on Stanley’s terrace at the elegant colonial Victoria Falls hotel. It’s stunningly beautiful with rich teak furnishings and century old picture frames. Built in 1904, it was the very first hotel to be built in Victoria Falls. It’s steeped in history as it was originally built as accommodation for the workers building the Victoria Falls Bridge.  I can’t quite believe that workers got to stay in such a beautiful building. As we were walking around the grounds we stopped to watch a gaggle of mongooses playing on the grass.

That was our 2 day break in Victoria Falls, and we left the next morning to catch an internal flight to Harare.