30/3-09 19.50 : Maya Northen
A Little Bit of Mist...
Victoria Falls was not a stop originally on our itinerary, but upon learning that it was our best option for reaching Chobe, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to add in an overnight and see the falls. I have been to Niagara quite a few times and visited Iguazu several years back, so was interested in seeing how Victoria Falls compared. We also enjoyed the chance to help tourism in Zimbabwe, given the economic trouble which the country is currently undergoing.

We arrived at the Victoria Falls hotel to find a historic landmark which retains almost all of its original design. From the restaurant veranda, we could see the mist of the falls and the bridge that links Zimbabwe and Zambia (we did not cross, as we would need a visa to enter Zambia). Eager to explore the area as much as possible, we had a booked a tour of the falls for that afternoon and a sunrise elephant back safari - pick up at 6:20 AM actually seemed like sleeping in compared to our 5:30 wake up call in Chobe.

Before entering the falls, our guide offered us rain coats and umbrellas, in case we didnt want to get a little wet in the mist (keep the word “mist” in mind for later reading). We declined these, figuring that a little spray would actually feel good in the muggy 85 F weather. Upon entering the park, there was no mistaking the magnificent roar that can only belong to cascading water. The falls themselves delivered every visual image the guide books promise and more. One of the unexpected surprises was the rainbows (often double rainbows) that stretched brilliantly across the gorges almost constantly. It’s important to note that we came at just the right time of year. During the winter, or dry season, only the main falls are visible and visitors could be disappointed.

As we walked closer to the main falls, the guide encouraged us to put away our cameras, as we might start to get a bit more mist. I can honestly say, that if there was an award for understatement of the year, this was it. Without warning, the wind would blow heartily and the falls would pour across the gorge and onto innocent bystanders. By about half way through, we had not only abandoned the notion of taking pictures, but had also the idea of trying to keep any part of us, our clothing or our gear even remotely dry. We laughed our way through the experience - both at the level of water we were attracting and how completely unprepared we were for this. Despite the fact that both of my cameras suffered a casualty and that my some of our clothes were still not dry by the end of the trip five days later, I would not have missed it for anything.

The next morning, we were off to a hopefully less saturating elephant-back safari. After time to meet and pet the elephants we hopped on in pairs, other than my mom, who got to ride young Rastas solo. My boyfriend and I hopped atop Jock (who I thought was named Jacque until I saw it written) with our “driver” Josh. We meandered through the beautiful landscape, with Jock stopping at every single opportunity for a snack. While I had been on elephants at the zoo or in small elephant parks, this was completely different. We were wandering through the brush where the elephants roam during their free time and were getting the chance to really be out in the open with these animals.

Upon returning from our elephants, we freshened up (luckily for our fellow passengers on the flight to Jo’berg/Capetown) and headed off to the Victoria Falls airport - an adventure in and of itself! The rustic part of our trip was coming to an end and we were headed off to more metropolitan grounds.

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