Exploring the Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe

We had a morning flight to Victoria Falls from Harare using the Air Zimbabwe, again it is amazing that amidst the economic melt down Zimbabwe still has a national airline, how they sustain it is still a mystery to me. Of course there are signs of age catching up with it but they have tried with all the issues. After 45 minutes we arrived in Victoria falls to a newly constructed clean beautiful airport which has made travel into Vic falls even better allowing international flights to land directly at Vic falls.

We were welcomed with temperatures that were much higher than we had experienced in Harare the previous day.   This I decided would not dampen my spirits because after all I still had my focus on visiting the Victoria falls, nothing else mattered.  We gathered and as we prepared to exit the airport, we found a group of young and old men outside the airport singing and inviting us to join in the music. This was such a surprise and a good welcome to Victoria falls and certainly Zimbabwe. You are expected to tip them at the end which I thought was a good initiative of getting unto the tourism value chain in an area struggling with unemployment. The atmosphere was like a scene out of those cliché movies depicting tribal African lives. What was obvious though is the fact that they are surely gifted with amazing voices and drama skills.

We traveled and checked in Elephant Hills Resort a midrange property in Victoria falls. This large property has over 200 rooms and the kind of place which is good for large groups of people who would like to stay in the same area. It also gives one a bit of both worlds i.e. the feeling of being in the middle of nature and yet have all the modern amenities one needs. You will have views of part of the River Zambezi from a distance. That evening we took an sundowner cruise on River Zambezi with all manners of drinks for those who wanted and we breathed in and enjoyed nature. We rode to the Zambia side and eventually got back to the Zimbabwe side. We sighted a few hippos in the water and Buffaloes, Giraffes across on the mainland but the views were bad because it was beginning to turn dark.

Eventually the time came for a visit to the world famous Victoria falls which are shared between Zimbabwe and Zambia. We assembled after breakfast and took a bus to the briefing point of the tourist. I was really anxious looking forward to seeing these falls. The total walk around the falls can take about 2 hours depending on how many stops one makes along the way.  Because we visited during the dry season the falls are not as strong but they are still beautiful and magnificent. You are able to visit the different viewpoints of the falls which makes this experience worth it.  It was not as out of this world as I imagined but it is the kind of place I would visit again. It is good outdoors activity for a family and is manageable for people that are not that energetic because it does not have high points to climb.

After spending the day exploring the different viewpoints of the Victoria falls, we returned to the lodge for lunch and prepared for afternoon activities. There are a number of activities that one can engage it ranging from Helicopter rides, canopy walks, elephant rides, bungee jumping, white water rafting, zip line, tandem gorge swing, flying fox, lion walk etc. I chose the lion walk experience because it was an out of this world for me. We were picked up by the lion encounter bus and transferred to this location which is about an hours’ drive from Victoria falls. The lion encounter is run by an NGO known as ALERT – Africa Lion and Environmental Research Trust. I was curious to know how different they were from stories I had read online from south Africa about breeding programs for lion hunting. We learned about their 3 stage program – 1st the breeding program where lions are kept in the area we found them. 2nd stage – they are allowed to mate and their off springs are kept in a semi-wild place and 3rd stage – the offspring of those kept in the semi wild place are released in the wild. It is hard to know who is telling the truth but if this their strategy then it should be supported and not taken down because of how others are doing their program.

Over all – the trip to Victoria falls was successful and certainly it was my highlight on this tour of Zimbabwe. I highly recommend it for anyone visiting Zimbabwe, you can do it in  addition to other areas.

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