Here in Namibia, we have a midterm break… not spring break. It’s not spring over here in the southern hemisphere and fall break just doesn’t have the same ring to it. We get one week off from school after the first 2 and half months of teaching. For me, this meant vacation time. My friends and I decided to check a couple countries off our list of places to go and things to see.
We started the trip off by catching a kombi (mini-bus) from Ondangwa to Rundu. This was a 4-5 hour trip on a full mini-bus in the middle of the afternoon (can you say “sweaty”). We arrived in Rundu and waited at the service station for another 4 hours before our bus showed up that would take us all the way through the Caprivi Strip, into Zambia and drop us at the border to Zimbabwe.
The journey was long and had a few unexpected bumps in along the road, both figuratively and literally. A late bus, an unexpected visa fee, an hour on a road full of potholes and we finally arrived at the Zimbabwe border almost 24 hours after leaving Oland. We stamped out of Zambia and walked to the bridge that would take us to Zimbabwe and give us our first glimpse of Victoria Falls. Artists were selling their wares along the way and offering them in exchange for money, old clothes, and even the hat I was wearing. As we reached the bridge, I could see the mist of the falls above and hear the thundering of the water falling into the river below. From the bridge up high you can’t really see the falls, but you have a good view of the river that they flow into. Once over the bridge, we stood in line again to get our passports stamped yet another time and then headed out to find a taxi to the town of Victoria Falls and to our home for the next few nights. We stayed at the Victoria Falls Backpackers, a cool backpackers set in a neighborhood outside of the main town. Since it was the low season during our visit, we had a room for 6 to ourselves, which was very nice. The Bush Café had delicious burgers and scrumptious pancakes for low prices. The backpackers had a pool, spa (where you could massages, manicures and pedicures), kitchen and a fish spa. You read right, a fish spa, where you stick your toes in and the fish eat away the dead skin while you try not to squeal because it tickles.
VF Backpackers was about a 15 minute walk to the main stretch of Victoria Falls that had small shops full of souvenirs, some restaurants, lots of artists trying to give you a good deal on sculptures of the Big 5, and KFC. (I might have come up with a new bucketlist item of visiting KFC in every country they have a restaurant…) It was another 15-minute walk to the entrance of Mosi-oa-Tunya Victoria Falls Park. Victoria Falls is one of 8 natural wonders of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We rented ponchos from a man outside the gate named Happy and bought our tickets see this phenomenon.
The falls… it’s hard to put into words my thought on Victoria Falls. They’re incredible, fascinating, amazing, and so many other things. I think my jaw dropped when I saw how they just kept going. Victoria Falls is 107 metres (351 feet) tall and covers an expanse of 1737 metres (5698 feet)! The spray of mist hits you like rain from above, below and sideways. The roar of the cascades is magnificent. It makes sense why it is called
“the smoke that thunders”
We spent a few hours walking through the park to see it from every vantage point possible and taking it all in. There comes a point where you have to put your camera away due to the amount of water flying around. Luckily I had my GoPro that is waterproof, allowing me to grab a couple more pictures, with water droplets on the screen for a blur effect. We lunched at the Overlook Café, which had delicious food and a great view of the river below.
In the evening we went on a “luxury” sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. It was probably my favorite part of the trip. I’m a sucker for a good sky and this one did not disappoint. We booked this through VF Backpackers and it included pick up/drop off. Our driver picked us up and we tagged along to the other hotels nearby to pick up fellow passengers. We got to the river and quickly checked in. The boat, or yacht rather, had three decks. Upon boarding the boat we were served ice tea and chose a table on the bottom deck. While probably the youngest on board we had a great time chatting with a group of women form the US that were in a tour group. I drank far too many of the signature cocktails that looked like the sunset and gave you a sugar high. The snacks were delectable… crocodile sliders, veggie kabobs, chicken satay, and crisps! We saw hippos and watched the sun sink down creating a beautiful orange glow in the sky.
Before leaving Zimbabwe the next day, we visited some of the shops downtown to get a few souvenirs and trekked to the big tree. The big tree was a 30 minute walk from town (if you don’t miss the road). It is a massive Baobab tree that is 18 metres across and 23 metres tall. While walking along the road to it, you can find monkeys and see the paths that elephants use to cross the road.
Zimbabwe was a good start to the trip. We stamped our passports to leave and head to Zambia for a night and walked across the bridge again to get another glimpse of the spray of the falls.
To see my trip in Zimbabwe, check out the video below.