Victoria Falls, when you talk to people or read anything about a safari trip, everyone says its a “must do”. In researching my trip, I read that I was not in prime season to view the falls so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would everything be dried up? Having not experienced any major falls before, I wasn’t sure what I would see or not see.
I read that you should walk over the bridge to Zambia to view the falls from that side (this would entail a border crossing and fee to reenter Zimbabwe and I planned for this with my multiple entry visa when I entered). At Elephant Camp, my driver drove just me in the van to Victoria Falls park. He escorted me to the entry gate to pay and told me he would be back for me in two hours. He told me to read the map and start on the left of the park but not to do the path along the rim as it would take too long but rather focus on the photo points and walk on the main path in order to see the falls and meet him in time for transit back to Elephant Camp.
There were only a few visitors entering when I did later in the day. We all stopped at the information boards to get an overview of the falls and park. I then turned left to begin my trek to the starting point as instructed. Walking the paved path through the trees and plants of the rainforest, you could hear the falls but not quite see them yet. Pretty much alone on the path, I was able to stop to look at the plants along the way until I met up with a tour group of people. They were taking lots of photos and I waited for them to move along before I could see the falls that I had only heard along my walk. The side of the falls that I could see was pretty impressive, it was roaring loud and flowing down fast spraying up a mist along the way – you could feel the cold water misting on you and trying to protect your camera when it did (despite the low levels of the falls, mist was an issue for my camera).
Moving along the path working my way in and out of scenic points I was behind the senior/pensioner tour group for the most part. The next scenic point was the rainbow falls – the light would project a rainbow at this vantage point – very pretty, sadly no pot of gold at the end!
Continuing along the path, many parts of which were wet with water and here and there a bit slippery – I couldn’t imagine this at high water levels in season – you would definitely need a rain poncho. Despite being late in the day, the misty water was a nice relief from the heat of the day. Walking toward me, was one of the girls, I met at Chobe the day before and had dinner with – she was on a day tour of whitewater rafting and the falls before heading back to Botswana – we said our “hi, how was your day” and then continued on our different ways. I would then come to the viewpoint for which I could see the people swimming in the Devil’s Pool near the top of the falls on the Zambia side (can we say crazy!!). You can only get into the water during low season and most do it for the photo – but still, I would need to be tied to something for the security of not floating away and over the falls (without the cartoon barrel).
Back at the entry gate, I read more of the panels with the history of the falls, the comparisons to falls around the world and the interesting tidbits before continuing with my visit. The next part of the falls would be reached through the winding pathway to the rocky side of the viewing – no handrails here just lots of adventurous souls climbing on the rocks for photos – I was happy to stay a bit far back from the edge and enlisted a nice senior from San Diego that I was chatting with to take my photo. Her group had stayed at the same hotel in Botswana the night before and I would run into the group a week later leaving Kruger airport – that is the odd part of traveling solo – everyone remembers you and you don’t quite remember them so that in the airport the group all says “hey! remember us?” and you smile and say “of course, how is your trip?”
Staring at the edge from our side of the park, you could see how the low levels affected this part of the falls – it was dried up and you could envision the splendor of a falls at full force but are still satisfied with the visit. Ending down the path at the end of the park, I would see the bridge to Zambia, the depth of the gorge below (this is where they bungee!) and hear the birds chirping in the bushes.
Heading back to the entry gate, my San Diego senior and I compared noted on our safari travels thus far and where we were going next. When we reached the gift shop, her group left and I had some time to wait for my pickup. Perusing the gift shop, they offered a nice selection of souvenirs for reasonable prices. As I had missed most of the day groups at the park, my visit at my pace allowed me quiet time to enjoy the views, revisit a few outlooks and still left me time to wait for my pickup. I waited in the café which had a nice selection of foods but sadly no cookies. I was a week without cookies and going through withdrawal – no cookies in Botswana and now striking out in Zimbabwe.
Leaving the park, I waited outside for the driver but did not cross over to the parking lot as there were many hawkers selling their wares and they were not so subtle about it. Not wanting to deal with that, I stood outside of the entrance until my driver found me – we both got confused as I didn’t see him in the original location, the van was hidden between two tour buses. We laughed about the mishap and made our way back to Elephant Camp – through the town, past the main hotel lodges, small cafes and local shops out onto the highway to my little oasis. Once inside the compound, I would see the house cat coming home from his day out. I had yet to meet Sylvester but I would soon enough.
I watched yet another beautiful sunset in Africa – I would never tire of the sunrise/sunset scenes – they were thought provoking and reminders how lucky I was to be on this journey, day after day.