From Kasane it is just a quick 80Km to the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Get up early and leave to catch the border as it opened and head off to the falls and the quaint town of Victoria Falls – well that was the plan.
Simple as it seemed, the African bug (somewhat like Murphy) found a way to disrupt us again. Speaking to people the night before our excursion we were warned the following about traveling in Zimbabwe :
- Expect a high carbon emissions tax on the vehicle at the border
- You must have 2 hazard triangles
- You must have a fire extinguisher
- You must have a reflective jacket
- You must have reflectors on all corners of your vehicle (white in front and red at the back
- The speed limit is 80km/h and they trap at about 5 points along the way. If you get caught and you don’t have cash you will be arrested.
- If you get caught talking on your mobile phone – well probably the best thing is just say your goodbyes to your family.
Things that definitely doesn’t put your mind at rest. So our start was delayed until the local motor shop opened so we could buy reflectors for the car, the only thing we were short of on the list, thanks to Anne and Brian (well experienced African travelers).
At the shop you could only buy a meter strip of each reflecting material, but you use only about 10cm of each (2 white of about 5cm and 2 red of the same size). So if anybody needs reflective tape I have an excess.
I never enjoy border posts at the best of times, but with my Botswana permit a few days from expiring my nerves weren’t great. Getting out of Botswana was easy – but was it going to be so easy getting back in, later that day.
The Zimbabwe official who handled the vehicle import forms was absent from his post, so it gave us time to read all the boring posters in this typical African government room which was the size of about our dining room full with people waiting for clearance. After awhile the official sauntered back from his breakfast and we could get on our way.
I ensured that the car stayed at 70km/h all the way as I didn’t want to take any chance with the speed limit and inaccuracy of any trapping equipment. Throughout our whole holiday my mobile phone rang once and it had to be of this stretch – with my heart in mouth I pulled off the road and took the call, checking around continuously for police.
Words cannot express the true feelings and emotions one has when viewing the falls, one of the 7 wonders of the world. The sheer size, the amount of water, the strength of that water, the beauty of it as well as the rain forest you walk through is over absolutely over powering.
See https://ourbots.wordpress.com/our-trip-july-2012/victoria-falls-2/ for all our photos.
The locals call it ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ — literally meaning the ‘Cloud that Thunders’ and it is not difficult to understand why. The fall of the water creates a continuous roar, making it necessary to talk loudly in order to be heard and sprays up from the gorge below in the form of a mist cloud that extends high into the air.
It is through this mist cloud that you walk and without raincoats you become drenched as Tristan found out as he rung out his clothes at the end of the trip. The amount of water that came off was as if he had just washed them.
While the Victoria Falls is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is claimed to be the largest. This claim is based on a width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 metres (354 ft), forming the largest sheet of falling water in the world.
After drying out after the amazing experience we headed to the Vic Falls hotel. This old colonial hotel has view out to the falls,the gorge below the falls and the historic bridge. The atmosphere really called for an appropriate Gin and Tonic, however the excellent local beer, Zambezi, was a treat and something I always enjoy.
As prices at the hotel are more inline with people traveling with dollars or pounds not Pula, we headed out to find an alternative lunch venue, but had to go past the craft market first. After the continuous “Come and look”, “I have the best”, “I have this …”, “special price for you” etc another Zambezi was calling.
We found a quaint Spanish restaurant for lunch, and ordered as soon as we could. The slow speed of service allowed for Sue and Cailin to go shopping, whilst Tristan and I enjoyed the local brew. When the food finally arrived Sue’s face was a picture. She had ordered the Calamari and her plate had only 5 pieces and nothing else, whilst all our plates were full.
The trip back was reasonably uneventful and after some explaining I was let back into Botswana. Knowing that the next day we were heading to Namibia the lady at customs I think realized my almost expired permit was not her problem, but that of the next official at the border post after our visit to Namibia.