🙂 Victoria Falls of course! Flight of the Angels! Arriving by Steam Train. Victoria Falls Hotel.
We have had the privilege of visiting three: 1995, 1998 and 2010.
Paul and my first visit to Vic Falls in 1994 was on a Steam Train from Harare via Bulawayo. We had landed in Harare travelling from Malawi and on arrival were told we needed visas and had to pay for them with Zim Dollars. This entailed me leaving and exiting through Immigration, drawing cash and coming back in – bizarre! The first taxi we hailed did not start so another exuberant driver coaxed us into his vehicle. We hopped in and he tore off like a manic racing driving and promptly smashed into the back of a matatu! We hopped out and got into another taxi while our driver was being lynched by the police. We were tracing his route on a map and knew he was taking us the long way … we were about to raise this with him when he ran out of fuel! Fortunately we were within walking distance of the station where we purchased our tickets to Vic Falls via Bulawayo. The train departed an hour late but was very comfortable with mirrors on the bunk bed ceilings! We arrived at Bulawayo at 09h15, stored our luggage and headed to a bistro next to the Bulawayo Sun for a hearty meaty breakfast. The Natural History Museum there is excellent with a huge display of billions of beetles. When we collected our luggage the ‘Computer Says No’ man would not just hand us our bags next to him where there was no oe in site but made us join a queue of 100s of shouting and disorderly people where we queued for 30mins before meeting him again and he had to walk all the way over an area as big as a football field to give us said bags which we then carried right back to where we started to board the train – AAARGH _ Africa! We left on time and had a good night’s sleep. We pulled into Victoria Falls Station at 07h30. We had booked into the Victoria Falls Hotel – our all time fav place in the whole world – a classic colonial Edwardian Style Hotel built in 1904. One can see the Smoke that Thunders (ie. The Falls) from the verandah. We were greeted by the iconic uniformed gentleman who opened the doors for us. We headed straight for breakfast and the waiter could not conceal his astonishment that we were actually guests at the hotel – clearly our overnight train travel is not conducive to the luxury five star hotel look!
After breakfast we booked activities: Flight of the Angels, Safari Horseride, White Water Rafting with Safari Par Excellence and romantic Champagne Breakfast on an island on the Zambezi. Then we headed off for a walk around the Falls which was spectcular except for the fact that a storm blew in … lightening struck a tree 100m from us and we actually fell to the ground with the impact of the strike – we ran for our lives back to the hotel!
That afternoon at 16h00 we did the safari ride which was outstanding! We came across warthog, impala, bushbuck, elephants and buffalo – all of which were completely unperturbed by our presence on horseback…we just mingled! After dinner we enjoyed a cocktail in the old bar and met some interesting people with whom we chatted the night away.
The next morning it was White water rafting with Safari Par Excellence. Our guide was a French chap called Toon. It was EXCELLENT fun although we were a bit nervous as a man had broken his back on rapid 15 and was paralysed for life… Toon deliberately flipped the boat rapid 17 – HECTIC! I knocked my nose with my paddle (and broke it as was soon apparent with two black eyes!) swept under the rapid, gasped for air only to be drawn under the water again…Fortunately I was rescued by a kayak in calmer waters where to my horror I could see crocs basking in the sun on the shore … NOT for the faint hearted.
Bruised and battered and stripped of cash after buying the video we returned to the hotel feeling tired but accomplished! Went to bar for cocktails and then to the Africa Spectacular Show which included story telling and dancing and was actually very Spectacular!
We were up at 06h00 and taken to the launch site to embark our private boat to an island in the Zambezi for a champagne breakfast. On the way we spotted hippos and crocs. The chap dropped us off with our full breakfast and said he’d be back in three hours – it was going to be idyllic! I relaxed in a hammock while breakfast was set up. … Our chap left us and then the vervets arrived! We spent ages trying to fight them and hurling pebbles at them. We managed to eat some food and then went for a stroll. We saw a warning sign not to walk once we were about half way across the island – Danger – Elephants and Hippo! We could see their tracks everywhere so we cautiously headed back spotting an elephant swimming over to our island! With relief we boarded our boat but it would not start! We had to wait until another boat arrived to tow us back!
We then headed for our Flight of the Angels which was truly dramatic and worthwhile – just fantastic! The views from the perspective are definitely a Must do!
Go to: Zimbabwe
Go to: Vic Falls 1998
Go to: Vic Falls 2010