Got up and had hot showers, which felt amazing after two days of travel.
On a fact sheet in the bathrooms it stated that Victoria Falls Backpackers does breakfast, but when we went to check out the situation there was no one cooking or eating. We had to walk through town on our way to Victoria Falls, so we decided that we would stop there for breakfast.
As we exited the gate of the backpackers a guy was getting into a taxi and asked us where we were going and if we wanted to share a cab. We told him Vic Falls, leaving out the part about wanting breakfast. He said he was headed there too, but had planned to go into town and get breakfast first.We quickly assured him that we would be happy to go to breakfast and off we went. During our taxi ride we formally introduced ourselves to our cab partner. His name was Ross and he was a school teacher from Texas. He was traveling up from South Africa to Kenya for a wedding and then to Sierra Leone where he was volunteer teaching and overseeing administrative work.
We went to the River Cafe for breakfast (eggs, toast & bacon) and had a long chat with Ross. It was nice to talk with another American and get their perspective on our similar experiences.
After breakfast the three of us made our way to Victoria Falls. On the way several people came up to us asking if we wanted to buy Zimbabwe dollars; this is a very common occurrence since Zim dollars are no longer legal tender. Alex had purchased a few bills when we were passing through Zim in 2007, but he wanted to add the 100 trillion dollar note to his collection. After some negotiation he was able to get a fairly reasonable price for a 10 trillion and 50 billion dollar note, no one had the 100 trillion.
Just before the entrance to Victoria Falls National Park we walked through a curio shop area where guys rent full length rain jackets, ponchos, umbrellas, & rubber boots. Rejecting their first offer to rent, they offered to let us take them and pay when we returned. We assumed the rain jackets were more of a tourist trap then a necessity and politely declined a second time.
Entrance cost to Victoria Falls National Park is based on visitors nationality. As US citizens we payed $30 each. As we entered the park there were several well designed information boards on the formation of the falls and local plants & animals.
We made our way to Cataracts view at the west end of the falls where we caught our first glimpse of the water rushing down into the gorge. Since we visited in the high season we could only see the first half of the falls because the mist that sprayed back up from the gorge engulfed the other half of the falls. It was an absolutely amazing view especially with rainbows that formed in the mist.
As we made our way east to the other view points along the falls the mist became more and more intense. At some points the mist was so thick that we could barely see the falls that we directly in front of us. I had to keep my Nikon D90 tucked inside my rain coat and then quickly unzip the jacket to snap a quick picture. Luckily we had Alex’s waterproof Kodak video camera to take pictures & video at the wettest areas. By the time we reached Devils Point at the end of the national park we were pretty wet, but out on the point we got drenched. It was worse then a torrential down pour in a rain storm.
Devils Point is famous because it is the only area in the park that doesn’t have a guard rail and it is a 100 foot drop into the gorge if you slip off the rocks. Alex was the only one of the three of us that was willing to venture out near the edge. It made me really nervous to watch him out there, so I was glad it was too wet to stay out there long. In the dryer season you probably can get nice shots from this point, even with the mist, but we could only see about a foot or two in front of ourselves.
The trail back to the entrance of the park was farther back from the falls and sunny, so we began to dry out right away. Despite getting soaked at Devils Point we all agreed that not renting the long rain coats was still a good decision because about 3/4 of the walk we were fine with just our traditional rain coats.
Back at the entrance of the park we said good bye to Ross, who was going to do things in town, and headed towards the bridge that separates Zimbabwe and Zambia. On our walk across the bridge we had a great views of the falls, the gorge and the Zambezi river bellow.
We payed $20 dollars each for a 24 hour entrance visa for Zambia. After almost two months of travel we finally got a new stamp that we have never had before.
We made our way through the parking lot full of tourist buses and curio shops to the entrance of Victoria Falls National Park Zambia. It cost us $20 each to enter the park; like the Zimbabwean side the cost of entrance is based on nationality.
Once inside the park we headed straight for the bridge that connects the Zambian side to a tall island in the gorge. Normally I would have had a problem crossing the bridge because of the height but the water was pouring down and all I cared about was getting safely across without slipping. It was not quite as wet at the look out points on this side of the falls as it was on the Zimbabwean side, but we got soaked crossing the bridge.
When we were done looking at the falls we went and sat along the river at the top of the falls. It was very peaceful and allowed us time to dry off and have a snack. I had really wanted to do the Zambezi cruise where you swim in the pools at the top of the falls, but the water was too high, so I settled for just dipping my feet in the cool water.
Outside the national park we browsed the curio shops to see if there was anything unique that we wanted to bring home. As we walked along we heard someone shout ‘hairband’. I thought they wanted me to buy a hairband from them, but it turned out that they saw my hairband on my wrist and wanted to barter for it. Alex worked out an exchange and I walked away one hairband less, but with two beautiful wooden platters.
Just before entering customs to depart Zambia a guy came up to us offering to sell a 100 trillion Zim dollar note. Alex tried to negotiate a price with him, but he was asking more then the guys on the Zimbabwean side. It’s interesting how much people will try to charge for a Zim dollar that is worth absolutely nothing.
Back in the town of Victoria Falls we caught a ride back to our backpackers with an Aussie that was staying at the same place. At 5:30 we walked to Tokkie for our overland pre- departure meeting. We met out tour guide Sarah and the other couple (John and Christina), who were also just starting the tour. Sarah went over the basics of the trip and pick up for the next morning. Most importantly she gave both John and Alex the greatest news– we would be at a place with a TV tomorrow night for the World Cup Final.
Unsure if our backpackers would have the third place World Cup game on we walked from the meeting down to Shoestring backpackers which Sarah assured us would have the game on.We got there almost two hours before kick off and order stone oven cooked pizza. The pizza was great but the crust was a little burnt, so I had a stack of crust edges sitting on the coffee table in front of me. There had been several dogs wondering around, eyeing our pizza, but none of them grabbed for the scraps. In contrast to the dogs behavior there was a very bold black kitty that came right over and took my pizza scraps off the table to eat. I have never seen a cat eat bread and certainly not as much as this kitty devoured. Alex was also very amazed.
We finished dinner a good 40 minutes before kick off and decided we would take our chances and watch the game back at our backpackers. We had forgotten to bring a torch with us and with minimal street lights our journey back was a little rough at times, but we made it with Alex actually navigating us through the streets by the stars.
Back at Victoria Falls Backpackers we went and joined several other people in the communal area to watch the game.
Early start tomorrow and crossing the border into Botswana!