As part of the 3 week birthday celebrations for my father's 75th birthday - he had organised that we fly to the Zimbabwean side of the Victoria Falls where we stayed for 3 nights at the Victoria Falls Rainbow Hotel.
The hotel was fairly basic, but the rooms were clean, the meals good, staff amazing and it was about .5km from the center of town and about another .5km walk from the Vic Falls Rain forest - so very central. Best of all they had great internet access in the reception area!
Well after a rocky start (we nearly missed the plane), we arrived safely. One of things we forgot was cash and lots of it. Credit cards have a habit of not working in Africa, this can be for a variety of reasons. In South Africa, you need to advise your bank that you will be travelling and that you will be using your cards overseas - Dad forgot. Luckily I had my Aussie credit cards and they worked spectacularly - so we were able to draw cash and pay the taxi to the hotel!
Once we had checked in and looked over the room, Dad and I walked into town. You can actually see a fair amount of wildlife on the walk in - warthog and baboon mainly. It is safe - but best to keep a distance away. Within 10 minutes we were in the centre of town and I was going in and out of all the tourist shops to see what was on sale.
We met a friendly tourist operator called Pretty - who was extremely helpful. We booked a helicopter flight over the falls for the next day and a booze cruise for the following evening. Next we continued walking to the Vic Falls rainforest - which we decided we would return to the next day. We met some tourist police who walked with us to a lookout - he was making sure we were safe as there were elephant in the area (as evidenced by the abundance of dung on the path).
He then escorted us to the Vic Falls Hotel. The hotel was originally built in 1904/5 and is the epitome of a colonial hotel. I talked Dad into having a cocktail (the Livingstone) whilst I had a mango cocktail - Dad's was a lot more interesting.
Next morning it was an early start and off to our helicopter ride over the falls. Dad absolutely loved it and we got some amazing photos.
The falls are not called the cloud that thunders by the locals for nothing!
Then back to the hotel for lunch and a walk back to the Vic Falls rain forest to get a view of the falls up close. The falls were really full, so we only really got a good look at the beginning of the falls - as we walked we got wet hence the lovely raincoats! That evening we went back to the Vic Falls Hotel for a fantastic dinner on the terrace.
Can you see that the foliage actually mimics a map of South Africa around the falls!
Next morning was another earlier start - I had booked a steam tram across the Vic Falls to the Zambian side. We walked to the Vic Falls railway station were we met our tram. At 10am in the morning - we were offered refreshments by waiters dressed as they would have been over a 100 years ago. So we were off. Our guide told us to keep an eye open for wildlife again as the tram went through a reserve to get to the bridge.
What my father was not aware of was that the tram included a 'bridge experience'. We had a talk about how the bridge was built and were told that it was completed in 1905 as part of Cecil John Rhodes' Cape to Cairo project.
After the talk, we were all given safety gear and it was at this point that Dad realised we were doing a bridge climb. White river rafting hadn't been an option as the river was too full and Dad wasn't interested in the bungy jump.
Well - it was great. The walk was flat - no real climbing and the views were spectacular. I think it is something Dad will always remember! On the way back on the tram we did see Impala in the distance.
That evening we were picked up for our booze cruise. The upper Zambezi river is incredibly flat and wide when full. There are a lot of houseboats on the river and tour companies operate cruises. The best one is the dinner cruise - were you get to see the many hippos in the river as well as the amazing African sunsets and then get to eat and drink. You may even get lucky as we did and 'run' into a 3 elephants on the drive back to our hotel.
I did manage to do some shopping before leaving and bought some hand dyed fabric - using a potato printing technique. I really loved my time in Zim!
Dad thanks for being a great model (when I travel alone - the pictures tend to be pretty boring) and a wonderful travel companion. We need to do this again - next time Kenya?