The Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Zimbabwe used to be the bread basket of Africa. The country has been through cycles of turmoil and instability over the years but after the recent peaceful elections in July, tourism in Zimbabwe is now open. With that in mind I decided to take my family (5 of us) on a trip of a lifetime to the natural wonder that is The Victoria Falls.
We spent a few days in the capital city – Harare checking out the city and enjoying the wonderful weather. July was still winter in Harare but with temperatures range between 21 to 26 degrees in the day time, we were dressed in shorts and t-shirts although locals remained firmly covered up which we couldn’t believe considering the temperatures.
Harare proved to be the most vibrant of cities. The introduction of the US Dollar as the local currency has done wonders for the Zimbabwean economy. The locals seemed to always be selling something, whether in the shops, in the street or at the flea markets. We were hugely impressed by the level of enterprise and the warm welcome everywhere we went, from the affluent Sam Levy Village in Borrowdale to the high density townships of Mabvuku and Mufakose. People were keen to speak to us and reassure us that Zimbabwe was now a safe destination for all including the British.
The relationship between Zimbabwe and Great Britain goes back a long way. Tea and biscuits were served at a local hockey tournament at Arundel girls’ school which we attended. The colonial past is still very evident in Zimbabwe’s present though – the restaurants at Sam Levy and in Avondale (affluent areas) serve fantastic food but the majority of locals still cannot afford to eat out.
After a few visits to travel agents we found out Air Zimbabwe were doing a half price promotion on tickets to Victoria Falls, however it was cheaper booking the flights, hotel and activities separately. For the hotel we settled at The Rainbow Hotel, Victoria Falls which is in the town and within walking distance of The Falls and the famous Victoria Falls Border Bridge were only the brave attempt the bungee jump.
The flight from Harare to Victoria Falls is only 45 minutes with a quick taxi ride straight to the hotel. From the hotel, we could see the spray of The Falls from the roof terrace, which added to the romance and excitement of it all. After a quick lunch we walked about a mile to The Falls.
The splendour, the amazement, the noise, the height, the depth and the sight of the smoke that thunders (Mosi-oa-Tunya) is one that has to be experienced. If one has those ‘things to do before 30 or 50’ lists, be sure Victoria Falls is on the list. It is a long walk covering and experiencing the largest sheet of falling water in the world. My poor mother, she’s not a walker, but she managed it.
We stayed on the Zimbabwean side of The Falls. Going to the Zambian side would have required a multiple entry visa. The devil’s pool will be conquered on our next visit. A glorious rainbow as we got wet in the numerous sprays just added to the experience. There are no man made barriers so you do get rather close to the edge.
On Day Two we went on the Safari cruise. We got very close to elephants, giraffes, impalas, baboons, monkeys… all in their natural habitat. Our escort was a very knowledgeable man who explained the do’s and don’ts when so close to wildlife.
On Day Three we went along for the Zambezi River cruise. We were serenaded by the local dance crew as we boarded. The free bar was put to good use in between sightings of crocs and hippos and more elephants. The most beautiful sunset I have ever seen was a sight to behold. I was glad I was there with my family and my mother in such peaceful surroundings.
Day Four was the bungee jump on the bridge. After the morning diving competition in the hotel pool, my 16 year old son bungee jumped the 111 metre from the bridge. Afterwards he did his best to tempt me to follow suit. I politely declined on health grounds taking into account the previous day’s free bar exploits.
For anyone looking for an adventure lined with beauty, then Victoria Falls is the place to visit. As we all know Southern Africa has temperatures to die for and anytime of the year will do for travel. Prices start from around £700pp for flights, but these vary depending on airlines, however airlines that regularly fly to Zimbabwe include KLM, Emirates, South African Airways, Egypt Air, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines.