A Travellerspoint blog

October 2014

Victoria Falls! Let the Highs and Lows Flow!

We came back from our last safari drive to have one final meal made by Henley our cook. We would be on our own for food at Victoria Falls for the next night.


Our tour was almost over but to enjoy the area more Thom and I had arranged for us to stay an extra night at the campground in a chalet since we would need to give our tent back after the first night. Then we had booked for our final night a room in a nice place on the Zambezi River where we could just take nice showers, eat a good meal and relax before our LONG plane ride home. But more about how that plan went to hell later...ha ha ha!

Right now we are boarding our truck and the teak wood is still on fire from two days ago with blue flames....so crazy! Henley our cook throws some water on it finally to put it out and the ground looked like it was melting and instantly boiling. Whoa!

Oh somewhere along the way we made a stop for this one of a kind picture!
Only at the bus stop folks!

When we arrive we are briefed on all of the actives to do at Victoria Falls such as these incredibly scary adrenaline stuff where you leap and dive into the gorge.....Not really my style and I start having breathing problem from just listening to them talk about the options... There was a 10-15 minute helicopter ride over the falls that some chose to do and while the pictures looked amazing we opted out because it was kinda pricy.
At this point we were just going to go back set up our tent and get our heads around the area.

We took a nice walk and wound up where the adrenaline activities took place at the gorge!

They had the flying squirrel where you run and jumped horizontally like super man across, A steep zip line that you glided across and then wavered back and forth and finally the gorge swing....This made my stomach turn every time I watched someone do it! It is essentially bungee jumping but you are in a harness that isn't attached around your ankels so you swing out after the free fall and you are not upside down....( I am getting woozy as I type this)

We left the gorge and headed up and over the the super fancy posh Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe and made ourselves comfortable for a cocktail! We got a Stanley and a Livingston of course!


Umm So I can't find any nice photos of the hotel for some reason but I do have the ones Thom took of the bathroom...the important stuff

Don't mind the pumbas munching on the grass....

The hotel has a great view and you can see that rainbow in the back from the mist of the falls...


Dinner Time came and we had some great a cappella South African men's choir perform at dinner.
While our tour with our group was officially ending some of us decided to meet up the next night for a booze cruise down the Zambezi River the next night. So after some time chatting we went to bed for the final night in our tent!

The next morning we woke to go support Cool Aussie Nancy as she had signed up to do all three of the adrenaline activities.


Thom had then decided to do the zip line. So I went to video because watching fall from thing just ain't my thing! But check it out Thom!




In the end Thom also did the crazy Gorge Jump (WARNING....The F bomb is dropped once in this so maybe turn the sound down) It was kind of crazy because I didn't know he was going to do it and then I had to run back to my spot to catch it on video....

After all that craziness it was finally time to see the falls!!!!

Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya (Tokaleya Tonga: the Smoke that Thunders), is a waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.



While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest, based on its width of 5,604 ft and height of 354 ft, 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





Just a light mist ya know...


Of course we need a tigger picture!!!


After the falls is when the craziness started. We had a nice lunch at the Victoria Falls Hotel again and then made our way back to the campground so that we could check into our chalet and shower before our river cruise...Well there was supposively something wrong with the locks on the chalets and they couldn't place us in them but they had some kind of upgrade for us. Well this turned out to be a dirty disgusting dorm. So let's just say that the people at the front desk were not very helpful or kind about the situation and I started to really loose my cool. The short story was that we were suppose to have been able to check in by 2:00 our boat ride was leaving around six and we had no room before we left. Luckily Christine and Bob let me rinse off in there shower but we were still not to happy. But I wasn't going to let it ruin my boat ride so we went to drink up and have a good time.



It was really fun and I was so glad that I got to do that with the people I enjoyed much of time with on the tour. Paul, Vivienne , Good old John, Bob Christine and Cool Aussie Nancy all joined us!


We also didn't realize it was a bit of water safari as well!





This is me when I find out that our room that I reserved and paid for in February was not available:

With once again amazing sunsets!


Getting back now after having too many I was super enraged when I was told that we had to sleep in the dorm, luckily for them it was clean and we had the entire place to ourselves. That coupled with the fact that because we were so pissed about this and called our nice hotel that we were to stay in the next night and were told that they also couldn't find my reservation and also had no room for us resulted in had a serious 100% last straw kicking punching raging melt down before finally settling in for the night. It was a low point for me I would say.

The next day we were to leave and go to our new hotel for a final special night. Yup so I called again, they had our reservation and so I was relieved and thought that would be the end of the bad luck. With that in mind Thom and I had plans to walk across the border to the Zambia side of the falls and take a boat to Livingston Island and swim and walk on top of the Falls!!!

We hiked it there to cheap to take a taxi...lol ( It really wasn't that bad of a walk) And arrived at this even more posh of hotel than the Victoria Falls Hotel. It was the Livingston Hotel in Zambia and wow...did I feel like a fish our of water walking up to the gate sweating in our bathing suits and my yoga pants!!! Ha ha ha!!! But it was fine. we met on the sun gate with some other people and waited for them to take us by boat to the island.

The island is owned by the hotel and so the only way to reach it and have that experience of swimming on top of the falls is to go through this company. I was so glad I was able to make this happen before we left.





There we were greeted with some kind of starch drink that I politely pretended to drink..(.yum....that was so good maybe I'll just save some for later ok?)

Bathroom with a view

We then had to remove our shoes and truck through the mud to get to the edge.

Our guide then took us to one of my favorite parts of the entire trip! Top of the falls!
It was absolutely AMAZING!!!!


We got swim around in Angle's Armchair... While Devils pool would have been slightly better it was still an amazing second due to the water levels being too high to do that eddy.



The views were spectacular and thrilling!





Dr. Livingston I presume?


After our time on the edge part of the tour was a fancy brunch on the island YUM!


So after we arrived back at the hotel it was time to walk back to Zimbabwe but we first had to make our way through the rest of the property. To our surprise (since this did not happen on our way in) Random animals were roaming the property!!!!



OMG that tree is moving and alive!!!






We finally made our way back to the crappy campground and got our bags and were off to our nice final hotel to only find out when we got there that there now magically was something wrong with our room and we could no longer stay there. What was actually happening and we knew this was there was some African Political conference happening and they were using there corrupt power to pressure the hotels and so we were getting bumped out. So after being taken to a crappy second hotel and refusing to stay there we were finally driven to this AMAZING hotel called the Victoria Falls Lodge. W could never had afforded to stay there so it worked out in the end. Plus we got a free dinner as well.

It was a beautiful redone hunting lodge with multiple look out levels of a watering hole where different animals visited daily.








Absolutely fabulous. Two pool to watch the animals and sun set!








Here are some photos of our final celebrations!


This trip was such a mix of really amazing highs and lots of downs and lows I between. I am so grateful the experience and will all treasure all the moments that in the end make us stronger and smarter travels. Ok now I waiting board a plane to Mexico City so got to go!

Posted by Kelly Rose 03:49 Archived in Zimbabwe Comments (2)

Hwange National Park

Ok so we but first a quick stop at the Painted Dog reserve...
It was not really that exciting to be honest an animal shelter with two dogs. But the painted dogs are just another species in jeopardy here in Zimbabwe. Painted Dogs, also known as African Wild Dogs, are unique to Africa and they are among this continent's most endangered species. It is estimated that less than 7,000 remain in the wild. The Painted Dog population in Zimbabwe is one of the last strongholds of the species and we are committed to their conservation. Our conservation methods and our work with the local communities are beginning to have a positive effect on the outlook of the Painted Dog species.

We then made our way to Hwange National Park where Ian (the rhino whisperer) was going to be meeting us there and taking us on some safari game drives. Turns out his jeep had some technical difficulties so he wouldn't be arriving on time. In Africa this can mean everything from an extra hour to it probably just isn't going to happen at all. But you never know. After lunch we became doubtful or at least bored as there was nothing much to do in the camping section of the park. So we walked to the park's little bar/restaurant and did what any bored person might do and drink....ha ha ha
Italian Ladies club split some wine and in the end our patience near the front entrance pays off and we finally spot Ian. We hop in his jeep and ride back to meet the group and be on our way. The park has strict rules about being out past dark and so while we will not be able to do a full drive Ian and his companion take us out and we are still able to catch some wonderful animals and views.


Lovely waterhole with the perfect light to capture the elephants!




The sun was starting to set....

So we needed to start heading back but got to see a bit more before we got to the gate!
Some kudus, and wilder beast.




Check out this guy's antlers!

Sun is fading fast!

But wait there are some giraffes with different patterns and colorations then we saw in the Serengeti in Tanzania!


This is how you do it Boys! (Awkward)

Now the moon has come out it was as if the sun and moon were on strings like you would see at a children's play. One went down and the other immediately popped up!


Now after dinner Ian tells us we can take an optional ride in the land rovers at night. We can't drive through the park but we can drive around the perimeters and look for some fun creatures at night! So it is really cold at night in the jeep so we bundle up with sleeping bags and beers. Cool Aussie Nancy is sporting her onsie that is essentially a grownup tigger costume and has front seat. Tigger, I mean Nancy is awesome because she stands and guides this flood light back and forth in search of glowing eyes! We spot what is essentially a type of deer that is so tiny even full grown. I forget its name. Then Ian asks if we have seen flying baboons? He spots a few and immediately starts chasing them with the jeep (and us in it) howling at them. We drive them up the tree and then they start jumping and flying from all over. After that bit of fun we resign to the fact that we won't see much else and so Ian takes us to a nearby human waterhole.

Then all of a sudden it is there! A huge male lion crosses the road right in front of us. Pauses at our jeep and the annoying flood light. Looks right at us and continues to cross into the bush! Super cool!

We meet at this kinda poshy hotel for a drink at the bar. We get scotch mixed with Amarula...the South African cream liqueur (kinda reminds me of Baileys). I went to use the bathroom but the Thom went outside on the lawn with group and said he saw some more impala and elephant. They also heard a lion in the distant. We return to camp and happily sit around a great fire (it was a log of teak wood!!! I know right???) talking and listening to stories and knowledge of life in the bush from Ian. We are sooooo tired that Thom and I finally decided to turn in. Just as we are about to go to sleep, we hear Ian in a loud whisper "It's a Honey Badger!" followed by the running and scuffling of footsteps.... We passed on the chase because well we were already in the tent with shoes off and in our sleeping bags...also you know honey badger don't give a s!@# anyways...lol

The next morning we ate breakfast ( that teak is still burning/smoking btw) and Ian picked us up for one more drive. We didn't see too much but there were some fun birds along the way. I personally am not a big bird watcher here in the states and I find most birds kind of boring. But in Africa they are amazing and beautiful! Here are only a few.








We were tracking a lion but never found him. Back to the waterhole.
Love this picture of Thom with Bob and Christine (the Floridians)

Oh a hippo.... ( can you tell we are spoiled now...) And in the distance you can see a croc too!


Lots of warthogs...I mean Pumbas! Ian does this call that sounds like a dying pig and it scares them away...Tails up boys!


He keeps saying that he can talk to them but they keep running.



Finally his call works and they stop and stare at us for a bit...he he he..



Once again on our way out we happen to see something amazing and kind of rare right in front of us crossing the road! (It's not just for chickens you know)

A family of Ostrich! Mom, Dad and Babies!!!



Mom heads into the bush and Dad pushes the little ones along..."Nothing to see here kids just another bunch of tourists with their cameras..."


Mom takes the babies into the bush but Dad keeps and eye out! "That's right humans you stay right there....I got my eye on you!"

"And don't even think about following us!"

Next stop Victoria Falls...where you thought jumping into a gorge was about as exciting as it could get there....but oh no, let's wait to find out in this upcoming final African post how Kelly and Thom brought Jersey RAGE to the country of Zimbabwe and made it out to tell you about it.....Don't worry after the screaming and kicking it does have a nice ending....

Posted by Kelly Rose 20:01 Archived in Zimbabwe Tagged park national hwange Comments (1)

Matobo Hills, Nswatugi Cave and a Village Visit.

We left the Rhinos and headed to a camp area for a quick lunch.

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We chased this rainbow lizard for a while....

And got some nice views as well...

Matobo (or Motopos as it use to be called) National Park

The hills, known locally as kopjes, fall into two main categories. The balancing 'castle kopjes' are formed by the rock splitting along natural lines of weakness, or joints. In the Matobo these joints run noticeably from North to South and East to West. So the balancing piles of 'building blocks' that look as though they have been carefully constructed from the ground up are, in fact, constantly forming themselves from the top down. And because the boulders on the summit are more exposed to nature's weathering effects they tend to be more rounded than the angular blocks at the base of the hills.


We passed the MOTH (Memorable Oder of the Tin Hats) Founded by Charles Evedon this memorial pass recognition to the fallen from World War 1

IMG_1595.jpg IMG_1596.jpg

We also passed Gordon Park...where all scouts as we know started...yup that's right kids it started in Zimbabwe!
It was in the Matabeleland region in Zimbabwe that, during the Second Matabele War, Robert Baden-Powell, who later became the founder of Boy Scouting Association, and Frederick Russell Burnham, the American born Chief of Scouts for the British Army, first met and began their lifelong friendship. During many scouting expeditions, Frederick showed Baden-Powell woodworking and they shared stories of survival - which may have later laid the groundwork for early Boy Scout principals. Baden-Powell and Burnham discussed the concept of a broad training program in woodcraft for young men, rich in exploration, tracking, fieldwork, and self-reliance.

Then it was a short hike up into the mountains....

With wonderful views:

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Finally we reach Nswatugi Cave.

These hills have one of the greatest concentrations of rock art in the region. The hunter-gatherer peoples who once found security and sustenance in these hills have left countless paintings across the Matobo.


Evidence for the early history of the area comes from archaeological excavations and from analysis of the rock paintings. These indicate a long and perhaps continuous use of the caves from the Stone Age right through to the early historical period first by hunters and gatherer societies and then by Iron Age settlers practicing agriculture.


The art is not simplistic illustrations of their lives. There is a selection of what they chose to paint and not to paint. These are symbols and illustrations of their deepest religious feelings and understanding of the reality of life around them. They would relate to the viewer the complexity of social relations (age, gender and living in community) as well as the complex realm of spirits. This only worked for those brought up in their society, knowing the symbolism. We outsiders stand here not fully understanding this ancient and now largely forgotten symbolic language.


The finely wrought art is a depiction of the complex religion of the Late Stone Age hunter-gatherers, and although beautiful, has meanings that go beyond the aesthetic. The images are likely to signify various aspects of human emotions, relationships and interactions with each other and the world around them.



The realistic giraffe paintings are some of the best such depictions in the hills although they were not well suited to the rocky terrain.


As with the kudu, they were nevertheless well adapted to the open Acacia woodland just outside the Matobo. These animals are often depicted large in central and prominent positions in the bigger living sites and in many instances, the artist would have required some sort of ladder to paint them.


Exactly what the minerals were mixed with is not known for certain, but is likely to have been gums from acacia trees, latex from euphorbias, blood, urine, animal fat or marrow, egg white or yolk or a mixture of any of these substances.


Here you can see an example of shadow paintings of humans that only seem to reveal themselves in when the sun is blocked.

The dating of the paintings is still debated, with some experts suggesting an age of up to 20,000 years.


The dating of the paintings is still debated, with some experts suggesting an age of up to 20,000 years. However, it is likely that the majority of the paintings that have survived to the present day are less than 2,000 years old. If this is something that you would like to learn more here is a great link http://www.rockartscandinavia.com/images/articles/a12walker.pdf
I am hoping to eventually link some video of Ian our guide speaking to us in the cave because I could have spent hours listening to him explain all kinds of interesting and amazing things about the caves and the people....

After the paintings we had to take a vote on either seeing Cecil Rhode's Grave or visiting a local village. The village people won (lol) and we headed off.

First we needed to meet the chief

What a character this guy was! He told us of how he was attacked by a leopard when he was younger and showed us his scars to prove it!

Then we met some of the other people of the village while they showed us some of their ways of life

Some of them sang and danced and did a bit of a performance for us.

Then we were invited to join in the fun...



Honestly I would have to say that it was not the most authentic experience ever but the people were still very nice. The truth is, you are not going to get any kind of 'authentic' experience when you are on a tour. For that you really need to volunteer and live with and like the people themselves. This made me even more appreciative of my time spent in Ghana years earlier.

Ok so one more safari park a quick sad stop at the painted dogs sanctuary and then off to Victoria Falls....

Posted by Kelly Rose 15:21 Archived in Zimbabwe Comments (1)

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