After breakfast we traveled overland back to Victoria Falls aka Mosi-oa-Tunya “the smoke that thunders”. We caught a glimpse of the falls a few days ago, as we drove across the bridge from Zambia but today we hoped to see it in its entirety.
We settled into our hotel and then regrouped for the short drive to the falls where we first had lunch. Ponchos were passed out for the walk.
On a clear day it is said you can see the mist from these crashing waters from more than 50 miles away. A trail runs through the lush rain forest to different view points along the falls. Ebony and fig trees provide a canopy along with many flowering species, vervet monkeys, and other small animals roam the forest. Today the wind was not in our favor, we walked out to the end of the trail where a small portion of the falls was visible but as we walked back toward the beginning of the trail each viewpoint became more and more shrouded in mist. By the time we reached the middle of the falls, even with ponchos on, we were soaking wet and couldn’t see a thing. It was a little disappointing that we couldn’t see through the mist but the volume of water flowing over the falls was impressive. We are at the end of the rainy season and flood waters come down from Angola and swell the Zambezi River with 1.4 billion gallons of water per minute passing over its edge at peak flood creating a thunderous roar. There are five main cataracts including the most dramatic, the Main Falls and Devil’s Cataract, nearly twice as high as Niagara, one and one-half times as wide, Victoria Falls generates three times as much water and is the largest curtain of water in the worlds.
The city of Victoria Falls is a major tourist destination complete with restaurants, shops and a lively market area where you will need all of your will power. The vendors in the market are quite aggressive and follow you tirelessly offering their wares, sometimes 3 or 4 vendors at a time encircle you hoping to wear you down. It was exhausting even though we did find a few things that we simply could not live without.
We did get to see Victoria Falls in all its glory by helicopter, my first ride in one and it was a gorgeous, clear day, we had a smooth ride with magnificent views of the falls and the swollen Zambezi River.
As we neared the falls you could see the spray rising and the river swollen by flood waters.
The pilot made 5 or 6 passes over the falls from both sides so everyone was able to get good photo ops. It is an amazing sight and from the air it was easy to see what the mist had obscured during our walk. All I can say is AWESOME.
Rainbows in the Mist
What a spectacular day and it wasn’t over yet; as we gathered for Dinner our guide said he had a surprise for us. Dinner would be about a 10-minute ride out of the city but that was all he said and so we loaded into the van and asked no questions. When he pulled into the heliport we were a little puzzled, it was dark, not a good time to be flying helicopters, but we followed him and as we rounded the corner of the building a candlelit pathway led to a candlelit helipad with a long elegantly set table also lit by candles, it was magical and combined with the star-filled sky a very romantic setting.
Thompson had talked to the restaurant in town where we were to eat and because of the clear skies they were able to come out and set up this magical dining experience that I will never forget, it was over the top beautiful so sorry the photos do not really capture the mood.