Victoria Falls to Zambia

It must be the genes on my mother’s side of the family that forces me to continually wake before any alarm goes off. Again, I could have slept for another hour, but it was not to happen this morning. Did the monkeys outside awaken me, I was not sure. We were at breakfast by 7:00 to meet the others, but we arrived first, then Hans and Suzy followed us in. The waitress said she was not expecting our group and the kitchen had not been told a group was coming. She had to call and verify our tour was paying the bill for our breakfast. Regardless, she trusted us with a menu and took off to the kitchen. When we attempted to order ham and eggs, the waitress said “No, we are out of ham.” Okay, how about … “No, we are out of …” Alright this is turning into a game of 20 Questions, so we finally had her tell us the options on the menu that they did have. Finally, I settled on a cheese omelet. I have to say the omelet was surprisingly excellent. Bruce, Bettina, Markus, and Thomas wandered in and joined us. Jean and Omo who had moved to a different hotel last night, came back to meet us for the Falls. Others from our group came in for breakfast sitting at other tables since none could accommodate all of us. When we were ready to leave, we went around saying our good-byes to everyone. Endings are always difficult and especially when you have really enjoyed all of the people like we have, it is worse. After eating, Thomas, Hans, Suzy, Omo, Jean, Ron and I went trekking down the road to the Falls entrance. It looked so much shorter a distance when we passed it on the truck and Bruce said it was a “15 minute walk”. That should have been our clue that it was more like a half day’s hike. We needed to be back here by 11:00 for our transport to Zambia. My leg was giving me real troubles today, so I was walking extra slowly and limping. Ron wanted to take the shortcut Bruce had pointed out, but forgot the admonition Bruce added to the it that is could sometimes be dangerous. Even if we were in a group, why risk it? I insisted on the long way to be safe. It was that lame giraffe mentality kicking in again. With the heat, I was not sure if I was going to make it at all, but eventually, we arrived at the gate to the park. Admission is $20.00 per person on the Zimbabwe side, but only $10.00 on the Zambia side. The Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya are situated on the Zambezi River, on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and are roughly 1.7 km (1 mile) wide and 128 m (420 ft) high. They are considered a remarkable spectacle because of the peculiar narrow slot-like chasm into which the water falls, so one can view the falls face-on. David Livingstone, a Scottish explorer, visited the falls in 1855 and renamed them after Queen Victoria, though they were known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya, the “smoke that thunders”. The falls are part of two national parks, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia and Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe. They are one of Southern Africa’s major tourist attractions. They are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vastly larger than North America’s Niagara Falls, Victoria is only rivaled by South America’s Iguazu Falls (excluding large rapid like falls such as Livingston de Chutes). While Iguazu is divided into over 270 (relatively) ‘small’ falls and cataracts, Victoria is the largest single sheet of water in the world , over 100 meters tall, and over one mile wide. The woman asked our country of nationality and I said USA. She said $20.00 please. I said I live in Hungary, how much is it now? She said $20.00. So I asked where I could be from to get it cheaper, but she just laughed at me. After she collected all of our fees, she took us over to a map on the wall and pointed out the paths explaining where to walk, which were look out points and which were dead ends. Along the first path was a side path down 73 steps. Ron and the others went, but I knew that would have been the quota of exercise my leg would take for the day, so I stayed at the top and waited. We walked the other paths; saw the falls from various sides, angles, and heights. There is a large stature of Livingstone who “discovered” the falls. These types of commemorations really irritate me since the falls did have a native name prior to his arrival, so he did not “discover” them. They had been discovered already, just not by imperialists. The falls are magnificent as are all falls, but my favorite is still Iguazu Falls in Argentina and Brazil. The heat and the humidity negatively affected my mood, and leg pain did not help any. It was like walking in a hot sauna and my clothes were pasted to my body. After suffering in a lousy place last night, I was disgruntled to say the least. I only lasted a bit over an hour, when I pushed to get back to the hotel for our 11:00 transport. We left Hans and Suzy behind, they did not have transportation coming until 12:00. Ron wanted to stop at the open air market on the way back, but I could not walk there or from there. Omo, Jean, Ron and I took a taxi back dropping the three of them at the market and I at the lodge. As I was sitting with my leg stretched, Ron came in a half hour later, impressing me that he was cognoscente of time, with his new acquisitions. For the little Zimbabwean currency we had exchanged, he managed to buy a bowl, a hippo statue, and a kudu mask. Very impressive! With our bags in tow, we went to reception where our ride was waiting for us. Bruce had stopped by and said Germine wanted to say good-bye and to wait for her. We said more good-byes with great people, who we do hope we will see again in the future. There was some confusion as to who was supposed to honor our vouchers for transportation to the Zambia hotel, pay for the hotel, and then transport to the airport the next day. Bruce made some phone calls and then gave us cash in US dollars to cover all of the expenses. He asked for the hotel to send him a fax receipt for the total. A van with driver and a young woman was waiting for us. The woman explained that the van would drop us off at the Zimbabwe border, and then she would walk us through the border control. On the other side, there was another van waiting with a Zambian driver. When he drove us to the Zambian border control, he took our passports and the waiver for the Visa and went in alone. Within minutes, he was out and we were on our way. Twenty minutes later, we were at our hotel, the Waterfront, which sits right on the Zambezi River. It is a beautiful place with a rustic looking lodge, bar, and restaurant. There is an Internet Café upstairs in the lodge as well as a travel agency. The pool was sparkling clean and inviting. Our room is downstairs in a two-floor building with all entrances from outside amongst lush greenery with slate paths leading to the rooms. The room is spacious with two beds, a lovely dark wood armoire along one wall, sliding glass doors to the patio which overlooks the river’s tributary and a full bath with attractive tiles. The porter brought our bags to the room and warned us to keep the sliding glass door closed when we were not around as monkeys would get in and destroy things. Transportation to the airport for tomorrow was our concern as it was pre-paid, but now we had the cash instead. When we asked at reception, they directed us upstairs to the travel agency and the manager came with us. He explained to the agent what we needed and she collected our money for the transport to the hotel and to the airport tomorrow and gave us another voucher. We paid the balance to reception for the hotel and the amount was exactly what Bruce had given me. We spent a lazy day swimming, napping in the sun, reading, and writing. While I was sitting by the pool having a gin and tonic, a monkey jumped onto the railing. The place is so relaxing and a fitting end to an energetic trip. This is the type of place where we should have spent our last night a group. Though they have an Internet café, I am able to resist. On the entire trip, I have only spent twenty-four minutes on the Internet checking e-mails. However, once we get to Cape Town that will change, so I am appreciating the relaxation now. The evening is spent by the pool, still reading and relaxing, watching the other guests. There is a group of college students here from a university in the States. They are enjoying themselves without the usual loud raucousness associated with US Americans.
The sounds of nature around us are hypnotic. The service here is exceptional adding to the attraction of the place. Feeling incredibly mellow, we went to bed and were sleeping within seconds.