Victoria Falls – November 25ik

After night back in Johannesburg Chris and I caught an early morning flight to Victoria Falls.

Excerpt from the WIKI page

While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest, based on its combined width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft)[5] and height of 108 metres (354 ft),[6] resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls. In height and width Victoria Falls is rivalled only by Argentina and Brazil’s Iguazu Falls.

For a considerable distance upstream from the falls, the Zambezi flows over a level sheet of basalt, in a shallow valley, bounded by low and distant sandstone hills. The river’s course is dotted with numerous tree-covered islands, which increase in number as the river approaches the falls. There are no mountains, escarpments, or deep valleys; only a flat plateau extending hundreds of kilometres in all directions.

The falls are formed as the full width of the river plummets in a single vertical drop into a transverse chasm 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) wide, carved by its waters along a fracture zone in the basalt plateau. The depth of the chasm, called the First Gorge, varies from 80 metres (260 ft) at its western end to 108 metres (354 ft) in the centre. The only outlet to the First Gorge is a 110-metre (360 ft) wide gap about two-thirds of the way across the width of the falls from the western end. The whole volume of the river pours into the Victoria Falls gorges from this narrow cleft.

Arrival and Decisions

We arrived at Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport in Livingstone Zambia and made our way from there to the A’Zambezi River Lodge. One side if the Zambezi river is Zambia and the other is Zimbabwe and we now had to get from Zambia to Zimbabwe. We had stops along the way to clear customs, border control another entrance issues before finally getting dropped off at our accommodations at the A’Zambezi Lodge. Actually I am not quite sure what all bureaucracy we passed through but our tour operator, Wild Horizons, shepherded us thru OK.

We had a little downtime to check Into our room and also research activity options for the next day before we needed to board the sunset cruise boat. What to do tomorrow on our full day here: fishing excursion, river rafting in the gorge below the falls, zip line and other thrills over the gorge, helicopter flight options and of course just seeing the falls in person? Research was done, but actual decisions would come later as we needed to get on to the sunset cruise.

Sunset Cruise

We did not know what to expect from the sunset cruise as it was just an add-on that the Cape Town travel agent had thrown into the complete travel package that she arranged for us. Suffice it to say, the cruise was great.

Chill out! Ditto. Lots of hippos in the water. A momma elephant and babies swimming across the river. Climbing up the river bank.

Dinner and next day planning.

Back at the lodge we regrouped for a late dinner. The buffet looked enticing but we were tired from the day and chose instead it have a light meal from the a la carte menu and planned to end next day with the buffet. Over dinner we ruled out fishing and river rafting and had a plan to figure out the rest first thing in the morning.

Over breakfast the next day Chris’s was sure he wanted the zip line over the gorge and would want to do the helicopter flight over the falls if I would. There was a choice between short 15 minute flight just over the falls and a llonger 25 minute flight that also went over the below falls river gorge andthen upriver from the falls going over the game reserve looking for animals. I was privately agonizing over the decision and the cost of the flight but finally breakfast was over and I made the decision to go for the long helicopter flight. So we signed up with chosen activities with the Wild Horizons agent. Chris would be taking on the full daredevil package over the river gorge doing superman flight, zip line and drop swing which was some almost bunge like drop but culminating in swinging what out over the gorge. I was happy to just sit back and film his exploits. Memories of the massive bouts with vertigo that I suffered many years ago when Ménière’s Disease wrecked my left ear prevents me from such stunts.

The Gorge below the falls and watching daring Chris.

So first stop after breakfast was jeep ride to the gorge for Chris to achieve his now sought after Darwin Award on the cables crossing the gorge.

The Gorge.

Getting ready.

where are you goi;g Chris?

How does it work?

Down there?

Retrieving Chris.

Looks like we will get him back.

He is back.

Next up was the swing line. Imagine a very long swinging rope attached at its top end to the midpoint of a cable strung across the gorge. Attach yourself to the other end of the swinging line. Then jump into the abyss. Surely one gets a Darwin Award nomination for this – so steep into the canyon I could not film it. Chris was offered a second time down the swing but thought the better of it and immediately declined.

Viewing the falls from Zimbabwe Side

Next stop to view the falls which we still had not seen. Yet another park entrance fee was to be handed over to get into the viewing trail.

It was low water time at the falls as the area drained by the Zambezi River has been in a three years long drought and had just started getting rains in the last two weeks. Water was spilling over about s third over the full length of the chasm into the gorge below. In these conditions it earns the nickname “Vctoria Walls” and rightly so as you could see large sections of the sheer vertical drop off. We covered the full length o the viewing walk path which is at the edge of the gorge on the opposite side of the falls. It was not to crowded with visitors so that was nice. The section opposite the most falling water was quite misty and i theorized that it was that way year-round that section because it was like a micro climate tropical rainforest. Apparently if visiting at high water time there would be dense mist the full length of the trail and then you had best come dressed in poncho leave the cameras behind as they would get thoroughly soaked. I don’t doubt it as when we returned through the small rainforest section it was very much like we were getting rained on.

The falls begin here.

.

Back towards the start.

Closer inspection.

Walking up to the edge.

Stunning!

Victoria falls and Victoria Walls.

Can you spot the swimming fools?

Not “Sheila Safe” but I found a good rest spot.

Nice place to kick back towards the falls and ponder the meaning on life.

On to the Helicopter Flight

Next we had a breif relax and smoothie at the rainforest cafe before catching the shuttle back to the lodge to regroup for to the helicopter flight at 4:30 pm flight.

Massive crevasse disappears the river.

Our ride waiting for us.

The crevasse.

The unsuspecting traveler going down river will come this ending.

The helicopter pilot has it in complete control.

Back to the lodge for dinner

Back at the lodge we ook a rest/nap before heading out to the buffet which we sadly found was not happening as it was Sunday nite and not enough guests still at the lodge to support it. A la carte menu again and the fish option we both took was great. We had front row seats to the local wildlife that regularly comes onto the lodge lawns in the evening and early night hours. Lucky for us warthogs and buffalo are grass eaters so we could feel at least mildly safe in our chairs at the edge of the lawn.

Next day we were was off way too early in the morning to Victoria Falls airport on the Zimbabwe side of the falls for our flight back to Cape Town.

In all a great excursion to Victoria Falls.