The boarder crossing into Zimbabwe took ages. We lined up at customs, they took all of our passports and then it was a waiting game. Also, to the dismay of about half the truck the price of Canadian Visa’s had been raised from $30 to $75. So much for saving money on Visa’s from now on. This was my most expensive country yet. And the expense didn’t stop at the boarder. Good ol’Zimbabwe. Home of President Robert Mugabe who started out as a promising young president but like so many others let the power get to his head and as a result has driven Zimbabwe’s economy into the ground. Because inflation became so high in the country the currency switched from the over inflated valueless Zimbabwean dollar to the US dollar almost over night leaving most of the citizens of this very poor country worse off than before. I find it pretty ironic that a country with a racist president that does claims to dislike western influence would switch his national currency to the US dollar but then again I guess all prejudice goes out the window the moment money becomes involved. Anyway, with US currency comes US prices. Victoria Falls is much smaller than Livingstone Zambia and if you think Zambia is expensive try paying $15usd for a hamburger and French fries in Zimbabwe. I realize that this is a touristy area and touristy areas do tend to be a bit more expensive but this was by far the most expensive place to eat out that I had been to on this trip so far. Victoria Falls is a haven for extreme sports enthusiasts, people from all over the world flock here to raft on the rapids of the Zambezi or bungee jump or take a plunge in the devils pool. While non of these heart stopping activities really float my boat I planned to have a relaxing few days at one campsite and to explore and obviously go see one of the natural wonders of the world that just happened to be right around the corner.
Our first night in Victoria falls we all got dressed up and watched the sunset while sipping on a few cocktails at the Safari Lodge deck overlooking the waterhole. We were lucky enough to see a few elephants that night. It was amazing! Later that evening we went to the Boma restaurant to enjoy a night of local music, dancing and an all you can eat buffet for $40 so that we could try some different game. I tried warthog, kudu, eland, impala, and crocodile. I have to admit Pumba tastes pretty damn good, and kudu was a close second. We got to try a taste of local beer which kind of tastes like sour milk and after dinner we were part of a drum show. $40 may be a lot of money in this part of the world but the evening was worth every dollar. When we finished dinner we piled into a bus taxi and made our way back to camp only to be stopped by a huge elephant sitting in the middle of the road. We stopped and watched him for a while as he wandered into the forest and then disappeared into the night. We finished off the night with a few beverages at the local human watering hole, a hostel called shoe strings and just about the only place to go “out” in the entire two streets that makes up the town. The drinks in this establishment were slightly more reasonably priced. $2 for a double gin and tonic. Afterwards, I called it a night with a full belly, sleepy eyes and big plans to get up and see the falls the next day.
The next morning I got up around 8am to enjoy Jarrod’s pancakes for the last time. And made my way over to the falls with my tent mate Hoe Yin and fellow adopted Canadian (she’s really from the UK but has been living in Canada for the last few years) Sophie. We walked down to the national park around the corner and tried to unsuccessfully dodge pushy street vendors along the way. When we finally made it to the park gates the admission was $30usd to see the waterfall. We paid and began to explore. We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon walking around the park and gazing at the waterfall, which is a spectacular sight to see even in low season. The cliffs are massive and stretch out for kilometers with water thundering over them. Victoria falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya “the smoke that thunders” is 108 meters high and 1708 meters wide. I grew up in Niagara falls, driving by the horseshoe falls was a daily occurrence for me and I can tell you that Victoria falls is at least twice as big and equally as breath taking.
After a day of exploring a few of us piled into a truck that Ben, who grew up in Zimbabwe borrowed from a friend of his and we headed out to watch one more sunset at the Safari lodge. It was a bitter sweet ending to the first half of our trip. Ben, his amazing girlfriend Taryn and half of the others in our group would be leaving us, and we would be switching crews. This was our last evening together and a few cocktails watching the sunset was the perfect ending to a perfect travel experience together.