Our final stop on the Intrepid Travel tour was Victoria Falls. For years, Victoria Falls has been a “bucket” destination for me, so I was thrilled to finally be here even though I can’t remember exactly what inspired the desire to see the falls.
Victoria Falls the village is nothing if not a tourist town. Local residents aggressively sell souvenirs, and want to take you for a tour of any kind. Our guide, Mambo (aka Stanley,) suggested strongly that we visit a particular tourist office to arrange activities. I am not naive, I’m sure there were prior agreements between the office and Intrepid Travel, but I had learned that Mambo and Intrepid Travel are reliable.
I wanted the best possible view, so I signed up for the long helicopter ride over the Falls, along with Margie and Simon. Margie, Gail, and I signed up also for the sunset cruise. I didn’t expect that to be very different from other sunset cruises we had been on, but it was going to be our last excursion together, so I was on board.
At 10 a.m. the next morning, the van came to pick us up at our lodgings, and off we went to the local heliport that seemed to have been built for the specific purpose of helicopter flights to view the Falls. There was a waiting room (with refreshments, of course,) a souvenir shop, and a viewing room so you could watch the video of your flight and decide to buy it.
Each flight could take five people, so Margie, Simon, and I were joined by two other people. All of us were armed with cameras. Margie spoke up and requested the seat by the pilot, which she got. Simon and I rode in back with the other two. It didn’t matter in the end, we all had great views, and there was no conversation because we all had to wear headphones. No one said why, but I figured it was a combination of noise protection and emergency communication.
Victoria Falls is impressive from the sky. I could see it as a whole entity, which is really impossible from the ground, and from the sky I could see how wide the Zambezi River became as it approached the Falls, which is not at all evident when you see the Falls from the ground.
Even from the sky, we weren’t high enough to take in the entire width of the Falls:
Unlike Niagara Falls (the next largest falls in the world after Victoria Falls,) Victoria Falls falls into a gorge where the river continues, rather than just over a cliff. You can see in the photo above how narrow the gap is where the Zambezi River falls into the gorge and then carries on in a much more narrow space. This is why the Caprivi Strip effort, which was to connect Namibia with the Zambezi River, didn’t work as planned – there was no way that ships would be able to ferry cargo from anywhere above Victoria Falls to anywhere below the Falls.
More, coming around to the other side – we are over Zambia now. The bridge marks the boundary.
The Zambezi River as it approaches the Falls, above, as we flew on. We flew over Zambezi National Park. The landscape is not dramatic. We did see some elephants and giraffes, and the aerial view was different.
The group was staying at the Victoria Falls Rest Camp on the Zimbabwe side of the Victoria Falls. The Falls are shared by Zimbabwe and Zambia, and to see the entire width of the Falls from the ground, you need to cross the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Our group was breaking up, however, so I focused on our last day. I had arranged to stay in Victoria Falls for a few days, and I could visit the Falls after others had gone on to other places, whether home or another destination.
We had our last meal with Mambo, Henry, and John in the evening, but we took the opportunity to say “Thank you” at lunchtime because a couple of our party were leaving before dinner.
John was shy about having his photo taken, but he is there in the background. Jack served as our spokesman.
After lunch, our next event was the sunset cruise. Most of our group had signed up for this – these sunset cruises were all a relaxing way to end the day. We saw animals and birds, had a drink or two, and a lot of good conversation.
Lois left first for Tasmania, Australia, then a couple of others. The next morning, several others were on their way, Mambo, Henry, and John met with their new group that would head back to Cape Town, and the tour ended.
May 5, 2019