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mistybleu Victoria Falls National Park - A travel report by Amanda
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Victoria Falls National Park,  Zimbabwe - flag Zimbabwe
16181 readers

mistybleu's travel reports

A day on the river!

  13 votes
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Zimbabwe is a land-locked country that is bordered in the south by the Limpopo River and in the North by the Zambezi River. The border meets four countries, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia. report of the month contest
May 2007

The ZimZam bridge
The ZimZam bridge
The country is at present experiencing political troubles; with some saying on the verge of civil unrest; but this shouldn't distract from the beauty that is Zimbabwe.

I had a friend who lived in London for quite a few years and returned to Harare about two years ago to get married and settle down. Now there she still complains but there are a lot of people just getting on with life and they still need to make money to survive.

My experience of Zimbabwe centres within the Victoria Falls National Park and whilst I can't comment too much about the rest of the country this is a wonderful part to discover.

Named after Queen Victoria, by David Livingstone in 1855, Victoria Falls is one of the seven wonders of the natural world - that also includes the Great Barrier Reef - Queensland Australia, the Grand Canyon - Arizona, America, and Uluru - Northern Territory, Australia and Niagara Fall - Ontario Canada (that sits on the border of New York State).

During the rains, between November and April, the Falls are at their full glory and it's impossible to visit without getting wet. Usually the spray is seen up to 30 miles away on a clear day and up close a permanent rainbow is visible. The amount of water that falls into the gorge making the mighty Zambezi is around 900mn litres per minute, this would be equivalent to if everyone in the US flushing their toilets at the same time! And reduces to 4% of that in summer.

The falls are best seen form both sides, as during the winter the Zambian side has better views, but during the summer the Zimbabwean side provides a more complete view.

From the town of Victoria Falls it is only a short distance (around 1 km) to the park (entrance fee around $20) and the falls and the paths are less hilly, however it is a little more expensive than entering through Zambia.

NB: everyone always mentions that it is better not to walk or cycle around most areas outside of the park, as the roads are prone to muggers.

Favourite spots:
Rafting the Zambezi
Rafting the Zambezi
I classify this as the day I nearly died.

White water rafting can be fun, but a grade five in the dry season when the river is low, seemed suicidal to me. I went with a company called Safari Par and they organised a wonderful day.

It started early with huge breakfast at our campsite. The breakfast was substantial - egg, sausages, bacon and beans. Then we went into the briefing room to learn how to raft in one easy lesson. I was a little unsure, but I kind of thought 'what is the worst that could happen?' What they didn't tell us was the about 3 people a year die doing this. But maybe it was just as well, because I so wanted to bail out.

They have two options available: 1/2 day, when you go down the first 10 rapids. You only hit one grade 5 cataract, but it's certainly exhilarating. Or you can do the whole day where you do about 25 rapids. It was at the three ugly sisters where I nearly drowned after the raft capsized. My nightmare wasn't over, I still had 10 to go...

What's really great:
Cruising the Zambezi
Cruising the Zambezi
After white water rafting the next best thing to do on the river is simply just drift. A sunset cruise has to be savoured.

I know this is quite a touristy thing, but as you cruise the length of the river you and how many other boats are doing exactly the same thing. It's like being on a safari drive and coming across two or three vehicles are trying to see the same thing.

But nonetheless it is a really pleasant experience. Mostly you see hippos, birds, crocodiles on the river edge. But I kind of think that's the magic of being there; so much more than what you see is the experience.

I found that at the end of my three week journey, it was so nice to take some time out and reminisce, and what better way than watching the sun set on board a vessel that is really going nowhere.

Aerial view of Victoria Falls
Aerial view of Victoria Falls
There are many activities available that the list is almost limitless; the company I used was a Zimbabwean based company called Sar Par Excellence, here are some of the activities they organise:

* White-water Rafting through Batoka Gorge
* Bungi Jumping off the 111m high Victoria Falls Bridge
* Canoeing on the upper Zambezi
* Horseback trails along the Zambezi and surrounding teak forests
* River boarding through the Zambezi rapids
* Abseiling off the sheer cliffs of Victoria Falls Gorge
* Tandem kayaking also through the raging rapids
* Micro-lighting over the falls
* River safaris using jet-propelled boats into remote parts of the upper Zambezi
* Elephant back safaris, tame elephants give the best view for game viewing in the reserve.
* Jet boating - high speed jet propelled boats take you down the rapids,
* As well as visiting a lion park, where you are able to stroke the lions.

Nearly whatever one can think of they can accommodate.

Yawning Hippo
Yawning Hippo

I never stayed in the Zimbabwean side of the falls, but on the Zambian side there are many hotels and I stayed in the Waterfront which was really nice, and had great facilities, including two swimming pools. The cleanest I'd seen on my African safari. However the Vic Falls Hotel was recommended to me and was positioned as 'if you want to experience true luxury, then you must stay there.' I was tempted but I think it worked out to around $200 per night - and that was waaaaaay out of my budget. But I think the next time I return, I have to stay there!

It is a luxurious hotel which is quite expensive but at the end of a magical vacation is something that should be savoured. It is also the only hotel that is found within the park.

Published on Saturday June 23th, 2007

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Fri, Aug 03 2007 - 10:46 PM rating by downundergal

I have been off the air for some time so a huge belated congratulations on a terrific report and well deserved RoM award for June. FANTASTIC pictures - I love the aerial view of the falls and the hippo yawning. I am glad that you survived the white water rafting I don't whether I would have been brave enough to try. Cheers, Kerrie

Fri, Jun 29 2007 - 01:31 PM rating by magsalex

A great report. Sad that the people of Zimbabwe are going through such a terrible time

Wed, Jun 27 2007 - 05:57 AM rating by frenchfrog

What an amazing experience! Thanks for the details, many thanks for sharing that!

Mon, Jun 25 2007 - 11:19 AM rating by eirekay

Amanda, this is a lovely report! Proof that touristy things can still be great experiences!

Sun, Jun 24 2007 - 01:38 AM rating by marianne

Very good and honest information. An excellent report with perfect picture. Well worth to be next month's RoM

Sat, Jun 23 2007 - 09:57 AM rating by rangutan

A pure wild and dangerous African adventure (well, big cities may be dangerous too), very well reported [4.75]

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