Victoria Falls – Smoke that Thunders 

A great night’s sleep, a cup of tea on the balcony over looking the river, a quick breakfast and we were off for the day’s adventures that we had lined up. We were picked up at the hotel by our Thompson tour guide, Charlene. We headed off to Victoria Falls for a walking tour, to see the 7th natural wonder of the world, that Dr Livingstone made the world aware of – Victoria Falls, or as it was first known, ” Smoke that Thunders”. It was the reason for our trip to Zimbabwe.

Charlene was a great source of local knowledge and history as well as totally charming and a delight to chat with. She gave us an overview of what we were going to see then off we walked. Once we came around the bend and got our first view of the falls there were gasps at the stupendous sight. The nearest section of falls is called the Devil’s Cataracts. Stunning. We could also view some of the river as it flowed before going over the falls. We continued along the pathway to the various viewing spots, with one after another getting better and more awe inspiring. As we walked we heard a loud bird cry and learned it was a trumpeter hornbill. Distinctly larger than the yellow billed hornbills we saw in the Limpopo area.

The spray generated by the tremendous amount of water falling misted the area and us, bringing some relief to the already hot day. In one area the mist perpetually is so heavy that the vegetation is like a rain forest. We came upon the main section of the falls where it became even more amazing. Just watching the massive amount of water was sort of dizzying. We watched a few people walking along the top of the falls from Livingstone Island. No thanks! The sections referred to as horseshoe falls and rainbow falls were water free this time of year. Charlene stated that if one came during the high season, after the rains, while the entire section would be in falls you most likely would be disappointed as the mist could be so heavy it would not allow you to see it from the walkway. So we are happy we came now!

We walked to the last views which showed us the area called the boiling pot and then the bridge that links Zimbabwe with Zambia. It is both for vehicles and trains, but only one vehicle at a time may cross over. Soon we needed to head back, but along the way Charlene pointed out the oldest baobab tree inn the area – well over a thousand years old.

Our next adventure took us over to the Elephant Hills helipad as we were scheduled to take a “flight of angels” as Dr. Livingstone referred to who must have seen the falls before him. We got signed in, weighed, photographed and finally taken out to an awaiting helicopter for a ride over the falls. It was wonderful to get an aerial view of the river, the falls, the gorges downstream and the city.

Back at the hotel Dar and I decided that our feet needed tending so were pleased when the young women at the hotel salon said the could accommodate us both for pedicures. Oh, did it feel good! We chatted with the women and had them try to teach us a few words in Ndebele, their language. Oh, my. It was tough going. Makes one appreciate their excellent English. Needless to say we’ll be sticking with English.

We then had a few spare hours before the next jaunt so Dar and I lay by the pool. Nice considering the temperate was up in the mid 90s. Dana took the opportunity to snag a quick nap.

And then it was time for the day’s final jaunt, a sundowner cruise on the Zambezi River. We were in the newest boat that runs here, the Zambezi Explorer, up on the “signature deck”. We were seated in comfy sofas and chairs along with a charming British couple, Diana and Richard. The drinks started flowing, the canapes kept coming, conversations meandered, the scenery glided by. We saw a good many hippos, but they mostly remained elusive, barely sticking their heads out before submerging. We came across one huge crocodile, whom we nicknamed “Big Boy” who lay at the edge of the water barely moving. A few others swam along in the vicinity. Eventually the sun began setting. Our wonderful guide, Patience, really lived up to her name. As the passengers drank they listened less, but she was so informative. Best of all was her closing comments – you could tell she was totally sincere on her love for this area and the river and what it means to her country. As she finished speaking I was teary eyed, but happy to see I wasn’t alone as Diana was also wiping away tears. What a remarkable evening.

We finished the day with a light dinner at the hotel, complete with more local entertainment. Their music is entrancing and their energy enviable. Off to sleep as another fun day awaits tomorrow.

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