The guide book I read before coming to Victoria Falls, did not give Mosi Oa Tunya National Park a particularly good review, so we are very pleasantly surprised. It is a fairly small park, with a great concentration of game, although no large cats. We see every single species of game present in the park, and even Gilbert feels that we are fantastically lucky.
There are large herds of elephants with some very small babies, lots of giraffes with babies as well as large herds of buffalo again with babies. We see babboons, green vervet monkeys, warthogs, the ever-present impala, wildebeest, bushbuck, waterbuck, hippo, crocodile and finally, the piece de resistance, four white rhino. After we stop for a picnic of Zambezi beer and apple turnovers, we come across the rhinos actually in the middle of the road.
As soon as we are inside the park, a large hyena crosses the road in front of us. We watch it disappear into the bush.
I have to confess that after Mosi Oa Tunya we are a little disappointed with the game here. Our expectations had been built up so much about this park, one of the great parks of Southern Africa. Although we see the usual variety of bucks, hundreds of elephants, enormous herds of buffalo, as well as warthogs, there ar no lions, leopards, giraffe, wildebeest or zebra. I really want to see a big cat, but it's not meant to be. I know it's only down to luck on the day as these are wild animals, and that's what makes a safari so interesting, but I'm still disappointed.
We stop for a picnic of tea and biscuits where a family of warthogs walk righ by. A young girl from another truck starts chasing after them, but soon changes her mind when the biggest warthog turns around and comes back for her. The little bulbuls are after our crumbs, and our so tame that Richard almost steps on one. They are so unafraid, eating out of our hands.
Down by the river are large numbers of hippo, wallowing in the muddy riverbed, clambering over each other and chomping loudly.
A must for many tourists is a flight over the falls. You can go by helicopter or small airplane and see these impressive falls from above.
An Australian lady (Marianne) from our group did this flight and saw some amazing landscapes and she enjoyed it very much. I didn't go because I already had this experience in the Grand Canyon, but when I saw her photos later in Melbourne, I felt a bit of remorse that I didn't take that ride.
It sounds very stupid to jump from a perfectly good bridge with elastic tied around your ankles. But some people need this kick and they take the opportunity to take a jump from the .... bridge over the Zambezi.
First you have to pass the border and in no-man's-land between Zambia and Zimbabwe you can throw yourself safely from this 110-meter high bridge. Scary and nothing for me, so who dares ....
You can find more photos on the following travelogue: Jumping of a perfectly good bridge sounds stupid on my Livingstone page.
My sisters friend asked me before I left for
Zimbabwe. If I was going on and Elephant
ride. I didn't know. But walking around the corner of ILLALA LODGE. I saw this BIG sign.
Elephant rides also some other things.
I asked my friend PETE who worked at the LODGE about this. They were able to set it up.
What I will say now is. These young
Elephants are safe being taken cared for on a reserve in SOUTH AFRICA. My guide & my
friend CRAIG VAN ZYL had told me this. So I know they're ok.
Half way through our trek. We stopped and
talked about ELEHANTS. There were some Skulls & Bones around. Knowing better now I would have taken pics of all this. These men seemd so nice and mild mannered. I would like to, and have to believe they treated the ELEPHANTS with RESPECT! All I know is they are ALL in SO. AFRICA. Doing fine.
One of the favourite activities is white water rafting in the zig-zag gorges of the Zambesi River below the falls. The rapids in the gorge are of the worlds wildest.
We decided to spend all our time at the falls and not to go there, but we did after all ...
We had the last helicopter flight of the day. After our half an hour circling above the falls, the pilot said "this is my last flight, so I like to do something else" and without any warning he dived over the tops of the trees into the gorge of the Zambesi River.
We did a half day rafting trip with a company called Shearwater. It was amazing, extraordinary, it’s impossible to catch it in words on paper. An experience like this has to be done and not written about or read. I try to catch some of those moment here with you. What does names like “Morning Glory”, “Stairway to Heaven” or “Midnight dinner” tell you. Nothing, well these are some of the names of the grade 5 rapids that you pass while you are doing white water rafting with these guys.
“Morning Glory” will eat you, the “Stairway to Heaven” makes you think that you are invincible and the “Midnight dinner” will chew you up. You don’t believe me, well read my travelogue “Rafting on the roaring Zambezi” or even better when you are in Victoria Falls go to their office and book a rafting trip.
You will see it will be one of the best things you ever did in your life.
GO FOR IT !!!!
On the certificate that we got there is this statement: “Volumes of water up to four times that of the Colorado River are pumped through narrow gorges creating the world’s most exciting one day rafting experience over grade 5 rapids - one level below the impossible!”
You can find our whole story in the following travelogue: “Rafting on the roaring Zambezi”
After downstream we flied back upstream to have another good look at the rapids.
It was breathtaking flying so low, jus 2 M above the water between steep walls at both sides.
We wondered how the helicopter could rise again in the narrow gorge above the steep rocks and walls.
It was my first time in an helicopter and this first time I allready found out, where an helicopter is capable of.
Of course we came out of the gorge.
On our way back to the heli-port we did some more dives to see some elephants at a close distance.
The pilot really enjoyed his last flight of the day and so we did after all !!
Down in the gorge, just above the water, our helicopterpilot said ''so we make our own white water raft today, by helicopter".
Everything was going so very fast, that we were allready down before we realized what happened.
Our pilot explained us that we flied the route of the rafting and told us the names and the grades of the rapids.
At 2M high we took rapid 8, 9 and 10 with names like ''jaws of death'' and something with ''suicide''.
This why they call it:
SMOKE THAT THUNDERS! It si all over the
place. Where I stayed at ILLALA LODGE about
a 10min walk. You can here the POUNDING
& SPLASHING of the ZAMBIZE RIVER carving it's way. My last photo of :
VICTORIA FALLS 10/1999
At the terrace of the Victoria Falls Hotel you can see a sign showing the distance from Vic Falls to Cape Town and Cairo.
The way from Cairo to Cape Town was always an obsession for the british explorers, and Vic Falls was a main landmark in it...
Donkeys were sleeping in the streets in the outskirts of Victoria Falls. My first thought was that they were an easy target for wild carnivore animals. But the donkeys were relaxed, and hardly reacted when I took a photo with flashlight.
The outskirts of Victoria Falls is not densely populated. The taxi driver took a shortcut before Victoria Falls and ended up in a small gravel road behind the backyards of a village, and almost drove into some allotment gardens.
An extremely moving experience. We spent a half day in a Zambian village about an hour's drive from Victoria Falls. The poverty is unbelievable and whilst we were there we witnessed two AIDS-related funerals. Despite this, everyone is smiling, getting on with life and welcomed us into their homes.
The highlight for me was being able to compare the two forms of medicine practiced in one village. The herbalist was of great reknown and people walked from as far afield as Namibia to see him. In the far corner of the village was the Witch Doctor who was more wary of me and my conventional medicine. For the villagers, if one doctor couldn't cure them they simply went to consult the other!
UTC in Vic Falls arranged the daytrip for us in March 2000.