Celebrating Zimbabwe’s Natural Treasure

15 April 2014

As the plane descends towards the narrow runway, you can vaguely see an iridescent mist rising above the trees in the distance.   This is Victoria Falls.  Straddling Zambia and Zimbabwe, where the great Zambezi River plunges over a series of basalt gorges, the Falls is one of the most spectacular displays of sheer power and natural beauty in the world – and one of Africa’s hottest travel destinations.

Vic Falls credit Shona Sakawsky Victoria Falls
Image courtesy of Shona Sakawsky

Soon we find ourselves trundling down a pin-straight road in an aged busen route to our accommodation.  From the window, signs of a country seemingly frozen in time whiz by:  A donkey drawn cart, a young boy selling maize from under the shade of a baobab; Zimbabwe’s legacy after many years of economic troubles.   The bus chortles out one last puff of dark smoke as we squeal to a halt at our destination.  Perched on a steep hillside, the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge overlooks an endless expanse of dense bushveld, while immaculate thatched buildings, glistening pools and gracious staff make us feel immediately welcomed.   As we unload from the bus, the mischievous rustle of Vervet monkeys can be heard amongst the trees.

By late afternoon we are settled. The sun hangs low in the sky and it is time to depart on our first adventure – a river cruise.  After a short bus ride, we park adjacent to a flat double decker boat bobbing in waiting against the grassy shoreline of the river.   Soon we are all safely aboard and cruising down the milky grey waters of the Zambezi. From the comfort of the boat you can see hippopotamus’ peaking up from the water while crocodiles lazily sunbathe on shore.  After a few hours of interesting animal sightings, sipping freshly made cocktails and enjoying some tasty hors d’oeuvres, we make our way back to land, in anticipation of visiting the Falls in the morning.

Vic Falls credit Shona Sakawsky 2 The quieter part of Victoria Falls
Image courtesy of Shona Sakawsky

Waiting in the lobby for our shuttle we are told by lodge staff to bring our passports as admission price to Victoria Falls National Park is based on nationality. Unfortunately for our group (myself included), Canadians have one of the more expensive entrance fees while South African’s only pay around R200 for a day pass to the Falls. Once inside the gates, paved pathways wind through thick tropical forests, immerging occasionally from the vines to allow for breathtaking views of each of the six spectacular gorges.  It’s impossible not to be spellbound by the thundering waters, surrounding beauty and magnitude of the Falls itself.  Spanning 2km wide, this UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts the largest sheet of water of any fall in the world.   At the edge of the park, the Victoria Falls Bridge marks the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.  While we didn’t have the required visas or Yellow Fever shots to enter Zambia as well, those that do can also hike down to the bottom of the gorge or dive into the famous Devil’s Pool at the precipice of the Falls.

Just three beautiful days after arriving, we find ourselves standing on the hot tarmac ready to board our flight back to Johannesburg while the warm Zimbabwean sun blankets us in its soft glow, enticing us to stay.  After witnessing such stunning beauty, it’s impossible to imagine leaving such a place but we know this won’t be our last trip to Victoria Falls.

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