Friday, September 11, 2015

South Africa 2015 - September, 10 - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

South Africa 2015 - September, 10 - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

So at the Kingdom Hotel, breakfast is complimentary for guests.  Naturally, we had to check out the breakfast bar, since we were 1) hungry, and 2) free!  This breakfast bar had more food on it that I have ever seen.  Well, with the exception of the huge buffets back home that is.  I think my favorite parts of the breakfasts over here is the bacon.  Yeah, it comes from wort hogs, but holly molly, it is good and they serve a lot of it!

We were picked up for the Victoria Falls walking tour by our tour guide, Peace, from Wild Horizons.  Wild Horizons appeared to be one of the biggest names in Zimbabwe for tours, attractions, and even challenging adventures.  Peace was very knowledgeable of the falls and provided a great experience.  Zimbabwe happened to be in a drought while we were visiting the falls, so the water only came over around 25% of the total area from Zambia via the river Zambezi.  It didn't matter, since we could see the raw power of the water coming over the spots that we stopped.  Each of the 16 stops had its own name, which provided spectacular but very different views of the same areas we walked past.  During the walk, we experienced dryness as well as mist.  What was interesting was when we walked through the treed area next to the biggest part of the falls only to get rained on - from the mist collecting on the tree leaves and dripping down persistently. 

The walking tour lasted about 2 hours in total.  But on the trip, we decided to skip the Boma dinner that was previously reserved by our travel agent and instead go on another safari.  This safari was to be a night drive and a dinner in the bush.  We stopped by the Wild Horizons main office in Zimbabwe and made our purchase.  They said that they would refund the Boma dinner back to my travel agent, but we shall see.  More on the game drive and inner a little later…

Once we were back to the hotel, we went back to the room for a minute to refresh and headed down the path near the back of the hotel to check out the gorge near the falls as well as the swing and zip line area.  There is a restaurant / bar there called Overlook.  On the way there, there are locals trying to sell you all kinds of things like wooden bowls, figurines, and even old currency that is not in circulation any longer (Zimbabwe went US currency years ago).

The gorge reminded me quite a bit of the Grand Canyon back in the states.  We sipped on a couple of beers and ordered the crocodile kabobs to share while taking in the awesome scenery.  We debated going on the swing, but we didn’t.  Instead, we watched a young couple come over and pay their $95US to take the plunge.  Once they got over to the swing area, the latched up and off they went, screaming all the way.  They were swinging in the gorge area for a bit until the workers lifted them back up with a tether tied into a winch.  I guess it was worth it for them.

After trekking back up to the hotel, we had a bit before we were to meet our guide for the safari, so we walked to town to do some souvenir shopping.  And again, we had tourist written all over our face, so the sales guys were out in force.  We ignored and went in to the shops looking things over.  We did find some things for loved ones back home, but I cant say what they are on here because it wouldn't be a surprise for them once we get back.  :)

Earlier in the day, we were surprised by our travel agent getting us a bottle of sparkling wine in celebration of Kathy's birthday.  Since we knew we were going to be tired once we got home from the game drive, we decided to imbibe the lovely gift in our room while cooling down.  You may have read on Facebook that we were only in our underwear and it scared the monkeys off. Only one part of that story is true, you get to decide on that one!  We capped that bottle off and just chilled for a bit, then got ready to hit the road again and look out for the ever elusive male lion.

Once we were greeted by our guide, he took us to the Stanley Livingston Safari Reserve, where we picked up a couple from the chalets and headed out on our drive.  The sun was still shining and the heat was up to around 92*f, so anytime sitting wasn’t very fun, but when driving, the breeze was very nice.  We came across most of the animals we had seen on past safaris, including cape buffalo, impalas, zebras, mongoose, giraffes, monkeys, and elephants.  This park stood at 6 hectares, which is quite big.  The guide said that they had over 60 head of elephant, which we ended up seeing quite a few.  We happened across one group that had a couple of babies with them.  The mom was quite anxious at us being so close, so we moved on.  We drove around for a while until the sun was getting ready to set and then stopped for a beer and a snack right out there int he bush.  I helped an elder dutchman fix his point and shoot, since he could not figure out what he had done.  Just minutes earlier, I helped his wife with letting her know the video recorder that she was shooting with still had the lens cap on it…  oh well, Rob to the rescue!

We got back in to the safari jeep and headed for the area where we were to have dinner.  And yes, it was in the bush too.  We were greeted by the cook and the assistant, who gave us more beer, water, and other drinks before we sat for dinner.  Once seated, we were greeted again with how this deal was going to go down.  First up, soup.  One thing about we've experienced in South Africa and Zimbabwe is that the soup was delicious. This soup was butternut and superb tasting.  Once that was over, we were asked to stand up and go through the make shift buffet line, which had salad, grilled vegetables, potatoes, rice, grilled chicken, and a stew like concoction that had buffalo steak in it.  Of course, we tried everything and again, it was delicious.  after dinner, the hosts suggested we have the dessert, which was a mini apple pie with custard dripped over it.  It wasn't like grandmas apple pie, but wow, it was great.

After being stuffed to the gills, we headed back on the short game drive attempting to spot what we could in the darkness with the guides spotlight.  Not much to be seen, but it was still a calm and peaceful experience - and much cooler.  We were taken back to town in the minivan instead of the jeep due to security reasons.  They dropped us off at the gated Kingdom hotel and we went back to the room to shower and get ready to head out to Cape Town in the morning.  We packed most of our stuff and headed to bed.  Overall, a fantastic day in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls.  I think next time we visit, the stay will be quite longer with some down time for the awesome pool they have!  Until tomorrow, ta ta!

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