The Adventure Begins
As we came in to land at the newly refurbished Victoria Falls Airport, I caught a glimpse of the Falls from the air inducing nothing short of a shiver of pure delight - how exciting it was to be in David Livingston’s piece of paradise.
We were picked up by Love for Africa - a superb local tour operator based in Zimbabwe. Blessing Munyenyiwa started this company six years ago and for him and his team nothing was too much trouble. I was seriously impressed with the knowledge of the staff and their friendliness. They assisted us with our accommodation, activities and transport requirements. If you’re looking for a great experience of the area with a good lashing of local spirit, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.
The Victoria Falls should be on everyone’s bucket list.
A short, 20 minutes scenic drive later we arrived at the edge of the Zambezi River for our 10 minute boat journey to the Victoria Falls River Lodge. The boat ride was wonderful as we unexpectedly saw a herd of elephants on the embankment and a pod of hippos just lazing around in the Zambezi. And, in the distance all the while you could see the spray of the mighty Zambezi.
The Victoria Falls River Lodge is the first privately owned lodge to be situated on the Zambezi National Park – an icon on the Zimbabwean side. From the moment we arrived until the moment we left, we were treated like royalty. The attention to detail and the personalised service was an experience of opulence, to say the least. We stayed in one of the eight king luxury tents (which are all river facing) with a private deck overlooking the Zambezi River, each with its own private plunge pool. In addition, there are five king luxury tented family suites with adjoining children’s room. This family friendly lodge is a fantastic opportunity for little ones to learn about nature and wildlife. For an exciting experience they can hop aboard their Junior Discoverers Drive. Facilities include a rim-flow infinity pool with the greatest views of the Zambezi River and a spa. There are also sunrise and sunset cruises as well as morning and evening game drives on offer.
A Zimbabwean Icon
The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge is superb and boasts one of the country's top restaurants. The Boma Dinner is an absolute must-do experience as it offers guests a traditional African buffet where you can delight your palate with foods like kudu, buffalo and warthog. The drum show is enthralling and everyone gets to beat their own drum. You just can't help being captivated by the celebration. It is a tradition to eat a Mopane Worm, just close your eyes and be brave – you’ll receive a certificate to prove that you did it.
Our stay at the Victoria Falls Safari Suites was a great experience! Perfect for families. Next door is the Victoria Falls Safari Club which is more for the extinguished guest or the discerning traveller who prefers utter comfort and privacy.
A quick 10 minute drive from the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge to the border and five minutes later we have crossed over to the Zambian side. Upon arrival at the AVANI Victoria Falls Lodge, we were greeted by cultural dances with huge smiles and given the most delicious iced tea seasoned with cinnamon and sugar. Delicious!
To get exceptionally close to the cascades of water, you need to visit the Zambian side of the Falls. I enjoyed the wilder feel of the Zambian side. Here the slightly cheaper Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park gets you right up close to the rushing water. Feel your heart race during the drenching crossing of the Knife-Edge Bridge, if the Zambezi is in full flood, be prepared to get thoroughly soaked as the spray seems to come at you from all directions. If there’s less water, take the steep footpath down to the Boiling Pot – a huge whirlpool at the base of the Falls.
One of the advantages of staying at this property is that it’s an easy five minute walk to the Victoria Falls, and it’s complimentary for hotel guests. It is a magical walk as you hear the thundering roar. Don’t forget to grab a raincoat at the reception! The rainbows are spectacular and all the different species of birds and butterflies are a nature lover’s dream.
If you are staying on the Zambian side, a trip to the Victoria Falls would not be complete without sundowners at the sophisticated Royal Livingstone Hotel. Luckily it’s only a quick 10 minute walk away.
Get to Know the Locals
To really experience the life and culture of the Zambians, don’t miss out on a day trip to the city of Livingstone. Visit the Maramba Market, the largest market in Livingstone. Colourful, vibrant and alive with activity. Here you find the locals selling everything from ‘chitengies’ (brightly coloured fabric), fruit and vegetables to pots and pans made out of old motorcars, farm tools and curios. A real treasure trove of interesting and authentic artefacts. This tour can also be combined with the Mukuni village, a real African village giving you a glimpse into the life of the locals and their daily chores. Don’t forget to try the traditional food and beer while you’re there - is absolutely moreish.
Africa’s Living Soul
The Victoria Falls should be on everyone’s bucket list. It has inspired me to fall in love with Africa all over again. If I close my eyes, I can still hear the roaring of the powerful cascades of water and feel the spray of the majestic falls tickling my face.
Did You Know?
SA Airlink has commenced the first flights on its new Cape Town to Victoria Falls route. Flights operate daily, except Saturdays!
Top Things to Do
FLIGHT OF THE ANGELS
The spectacular helicopter flight over the Victoria Falls is a surreal and magical experience. Choose the 20 minute flight over the Batoka gorge, which is such an adrenaline-inducing high. This thrilling ride offers you the best photographic opportunities. Seeing the Victoria Falls and the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park from the air will be forever engrained in my memory.
Enjoy a two hour Sunset Cruise with Ra-Ikane luxury cruises on a colonial boat. You will be treated with an impressive bar selection and delectable snacks. I have never seen so many hippos before in my life and the bird life is phenomenal. Enjoy a brief history of the area, cocktail in-hand, while you take in the wild beauty of the Zambezi River and Park.
For some wild fun, enjoy a bungee, bridge-swing and slide combo. Another exciting activity which is a must is the White-water rafting down the rapids of the wild Zambezi River. Many consider this the best one day white water rafting run in the world. Game Drives in the Zambezi National Park are a definite highlight and can be enjoyed by families, suitable for children over three years.
The Lunar Rainbow
If are lucky enough to be travelling to Victoria Falls during a full moon, I would highly recommend this tour. A lunar rainbow at the Falls is created by water particles from the spray and is a not-to-be-missed wonder of nature. Best seen from April to July when there is sufficient spray to create this effect and in the early hours after moonrise.
Both terrifying and exhilarating is a swim in Devil's Pool. During the dry season (mid-August to mid-January) the water level drops enough that a shallow pool forms along Livingstone Island at the edge of the falls. It offers a view of the falls like no other - truly jaw dropping to be perched on the edge of the pool. Bathers with nerves of steel can even lean over the slippery rock lip and peer directly into the gorge!
Speed down the Zambezi River
Imagine flying down the Zambezi River in a speedboat to explore the secluded areas and riverbanks of the Zambezi National Park. Safari Par Excellence (SAFPAR), an adventure specialist based in Livingstone has a fleet of jet boats to take guests away from the usual river-cruise routes. The trip will start from just above Victoria Falls and extends upstream to about 35 kilometres. Choose from the Early-Bird Explorer or the Sunset Explorer Package.
Swim Under the Spray
Swim under the spray of the Falls during low season (August to December only). To get there, you first walk into the gorge and are paddled across the Boiling Pot to right below the Falls. Enjoy the unique perspective from the bottom of the gorge. Swimming here in the rock pools below the Falls, surrounded by massive black basaltic rock towering up above you, is an unforgettable experience!
For a complete adrenaline rush a microlight flip over the Falls is incredibly exciting. You are out in the open and exposed to the elements. Feel the spray and hear the thundering roar of the water as all your senses become alive.
Buffalo Bar & the Vulture Culture Experience
It is wonderful to relax on the deck of the Buffalo Bar at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge with a sundowner while you enjoy stunning views of the busy waterhole. It is surrounded by bush and offers a unique view point. The sunsets are magnificent. The Vulture Culture takes place daily below the Buffalo Bar viewing deck. Leftover meat scraps and bones from the Boma dinner the night before are placed in the feeding area (supplementary to their natural feeding habits). Watch as hundreds of vultures and other birds of prey come to feast.
BOOK YOUR VIC FALLS TRIP!
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