Victoria Falls, The Smoke That Thunders, is impressive. We visited the National Park surrounding the falls twice. Once on the Saturday, shortly after arrival, and once on the Sunday. Since we're near the end of the raining season, visiting the falls meant we had to swim on dry land. At Danger Point, where normally you get treated to some spectacular views, we encountered nothing but a tropical rainstorm. Normally, about half a million cubic meters of water make the fall. During the flood season, this increases about ten fold. 5 million cubic meters. Every minute of every day.
The place is impressive, although it would have been nice to more easily see beyond the double rainbows and the clouds of water vapor.
Wasted after Thursday night's party at the Book Cafe and the Mannenberg meant I had forgotten to bring proof of employment in Zimbabwe. With it, Betsy and I can get treated as locals at national parks, meaning, for example, that the entrance fee for Victoria Falls isn't US$20, but US$1.
However, with Ivor, who brought his working permit, and some smooth talking, we were able to pay the local prices at the falls and the national parks we stayed at.
After visiting the site on Saturday, we drove down to 'The Big Tree', a big baobab tree close to the falls. As in Hwange, our path was blocked by a troupe of elephants, but this time a huge male was taking care of his people. When a car wanted to pass, he started waving his ears and slamming one of his hind legs on the ground. The car decided to wait, although some of the nearby hawkers made moves to break the 100m-sprint world record.
On the Sunday, after visiting the falls, we went down to the beautiful colonial Victoria Falls Hotel. We had wanted to stay there but the price tag of 110 euros per room, up from 50 euros in December was considered a bit too much. We ended up staying at the nearby Zambezi National Park at 3 euros per person per night.
The view from the hotel, however, is stunning. In the distance, you can see the clouds generated by the falls as you're looking down the gorge that separates Zambia from Zimbabwe.
We planned on enjoying a high tea at the hotel, but ended up doing a booze cruise or sunset cruise on the Zambezi River.
Nathalie, the German girl whom I met during my first week in Harare had told me about the Zambezi booze cruises and I imagined large river steamers filled with totally wasted whities, not fit to walk off the boat themselves at the end of the cruise.
Instead, we ended up on a 10 square meter barge with fold out chairs, seating 10 and holding two crewmembers. Snacks were available, made by our hostess Georgina and drinks, whatever you liked, were on the house.
The guide/captain was knowledgeable; entertaining us with a mix of history, legends and folk tales related to the Zambezi, although the little dance he did on Georgina's song about the river seemed a bit superfluous.