“Locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya –“The smoke that thunders”. Discover why this is listed as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World.”
When friends invited me to spend a week with them at the Victoria Falls, my first thought was “What are we going to do there for a week!”. What a lovely surprise when the week flew by and a wonderful time was had by all.
We flew via Livingston, Zambia, which by the way is half the price than flying directly to Victoria Falls. SAA, 1Time and Kulula fly to Livingston. Don’t expect too much of the airport – it’s a little “dorpie” but the queues moved quickly enough and your luggage waits for you on the other side of immigration – you can actually see your luggage – no fancy carousels. But it’s an Africa Safari, and we love it!
Remember to arrange for a transfer to your hotel if your hotel does not offer this service. It takes about 20 minutes. There are numerous safari tour operators offering this service and they usually do all the leisure/adrenaline activities too. Zimbabweans seem to like us South Africans, as we apparently make up about 35% of their tourists – according to the different guides.
We negotiated all the prices and asked for SADC discounts or if that didn’t work, South African discount as we were paying in South African Rand. Remember, there are no more Zimbabwian Dollars available as legal currency, but are sold by vendors on the street as memorabilia. They’ve even made jewellery and Christmas decorations out of the money! Lovely gifts to take home, but remember EVERYTHING is negotiable on price, especially on the streets.
Beware of “guides” approaching you in the street to sell guided bush walks and numerous other activities– only make use of reputable companies in the different shops. We were confronted by one of them, but the Tourism Police was on the scene and arrested the guy. The Tourism Police are almost everywhere and very quick to assist and prevent you from being harassed by illegal traders. But needless to say, the same guy approached us again within an hour…
We stayed at a self catering lodge just outside of Victoria Falls town, very close to Elephants Hills Hotel. There was a complementary shuttle service between the resort and town every 20 minutes. On the first day we went into town to do some shopping. There are two supermarkets in town – TM Supermarket, which is fairly big, about a block or two out of town as well as Jays Spar in town. We did some shopping at TM to get some fresh meat and veggies. The manager was kind enough to let us use the trolley to the main road where we unloaded and waited for our shuttle.
Shopping can be hard work, so stop at the local tavern for a beer – USD1 each and ice cold. Beers in the hotels and lodges are between USD4 to USD5 each. I recommend you take along US Dollars and/or your credit card. A glass of wine was about USD6 and a bottle of wine was about USD25 and that was a cheap one. Spend your beer money at Hunters Bar in town!
The next day we went to the Victoria Falls and what an experience that was. It’s one of the things everyone should have on their “to-do-list”. All visitors from SADC get discount, so don’t forget your passport when you go. We had a guide, which wasn’t really necessary, but he was very friendly and informative. Most hotels and lodges’ have a shuttle service that go all the way to the Victoria Falls, which is just out of town – you can walk to the Victoria Falls from town. It gets very wet, so take along a raincoat but then you should also get the effect of the spray – be warned it is WET!!!
On the third day we went for a Sunset Cruise on the Zambezi and some of the men tried their luck at Tiger fishing. What a wonderful experience – Africa cannot get any better than that. We were picked up at our lodge, on time, and driven by a friendly driver. We had our own boat set up for the five of us. We got to see elephants, crocodiles and hippopotamus. Seeing it in the water or on the river bank made a nice change from a game reserve. The drinks and snacks were served and our captain and skipper were both very friendly.
After all the excitement of the previous two days, we went for dinner at the Boma. Once again, don’t forget to negotiate on price – we South Africans must try for a discount where ever we go. On arrival, they give you a piece of cloth to drape over yourself and a couple of dots are painted on your face. A photo is taken of your group which you can purchase at the restaurant. Once at the table you are served a small mug of their traditional beer. I have tried the beer 3 times before and I still don’t like it. But we all had a sip – do in Zimbabwe as the Zimbabweans do. There are also some Mopani worms to taste and you get a certificate once you’ve eaten one. The food was very good, but remember, the drinks are pricey. You can take your own wine – corkage is about USD5.
You can visit the local Sangoma, who charges USD1. Traditional dancing as well as an acappella choirentertains guests in the evening.
Up early the next day for our helicopter tour of the Victoria Falls. Include this on your “must do” list while there. We to take a beautiful hiking trail to the helicopter pad, which is very close to the Elephants Hill Hotel. The helicopter flip gives you a stunning view of the Victoria Falls and the surrounding area. Before you get on the helicopter they weigh you – so ladies, be prepared, but don’t worry, no one else except the person weighing you gets to see your weight. A CD of your trip can be purchased for about R250.00.
Other trips to include during your stay is high tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel and the local Wine Route. The plan was to go for High Tea, but at USD25 for two people, we decided that a drink would go down better, not forgetting it was very hot and we walked to the hotel (from the main road which is about 200 m). You get a lovely view of the bridge from the hotel, which is a must see.
The Wine Route is not what you’d expect. Local wine is served while you are paddled in canoes on the Zambezi river. Beer was also available, for which we were ever so grateful, as please be warned, the Zimbabwe wine is horrible, and you can quote me on that. Halfway through the trip snacks are served on an small island. What a lovely way to experience the Zambezi River.
A few things to remember before you go:
- A yellow fever shot is required if you fly via Zambia (at least 10 days before you go)
- No harm in taking malaria tablets and don’t forget the Peaceful Sleep and suntan lotion
- Take US Dollars and SA Rand – eating and drinking is expensive, so be prepared
- Fly via Livingston – half the price
Contact A2B2Z Journeys to book your trip