Hello and welcome to my blog. This is a compilation of travel stories, photos and places that I have visited over the years (although once in a while I will include places that I WANT to visit!). I love to travel and am also a bit of a "foodie" so every now and then I will probably start talking about my favorite restaurants too. Enjoy!

Sunrise at Kruger National Park, South Africa

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World: Victoria Falls

During my recent trip to Africa, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the most amazing places in the world -- Victoria Falls! Now for those of you who have been following my blog, we spent the first part of the week in Botswana so had to take planes, trains and automobiles to get to Vic Falls (okay, so there was no train per se but we did have quite the adventure!)...

(Above is our charter flight arriving, on the left is our guide Water driving back after chasing a herd of Impala from the runway!)

True to “Africa time”, our charter flight from Xakanaka Camp in Botswana was about 20 minutes late, but it finally arrived and we hopped on for an hour and a bit flight to Kasane in northeastern Botswana. From there we took a charter bus to the border of Botswana and Zimbabwe, went through border patrol and customs (twice, once as we left Botswana and then again when we arrived on the other side of the border and entered Zimbabwe).

Once we paid our $30 entrance visa fee (per person), we walked across the border and then transferred to basically a cab which drove us the rest of the way to Victoria Falls. From the time we took off from Xakanaka to when we arrived in Vic Falls only took about 3 hours and went very smoothly. This part of our trip was all arranged through a travel agent who worked with Falcon Safaris in Botswana/Zimbabwe to facilitate everything. I would highly recommend doing something similar if you ever come to this part of the world. It was so easy and stress-free which is something to say when you are traveling in a part of the world that you do not know at all.

We arrived at the Victoria Falls Hotel around 3pm and were warmly greeted at every turn. The hotel is absolutely stunning in its old Victorian way. The service is first class and everyone is welcoming, friendly and polite.

We (okay, I) were starving when we arrived so we decided to drop our bags and head to the pool deck for lunch. I am not entirely sure how we managed this, but we were given one of the best rooms in the hotel – we are in the Southern wing at the very end across from the Livingstone Suite (where the Queen of England has stayed in the past!). Our room has views of the central courtyard and the Falls! You cannot actually see the water, but you can see the spray billowing up in the sky and you can hear the thunder of the water in the distance.

(Below is the view from our room at the hotel -- it was one of the best rooms in the house with a view of the falls!)

Down at the pool deck we sipped on some cocktails and had delicious sandwiches for lunch while watching the bungee jumpers off the bridge connecting Zimbabwe and Namibia in the distance. The place is absolutely amazing, although the service is very sloooowwwww (something you just have to be prepared for and bring a good dose of patience!).

Okay, so let's get to the best part! Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and after seeing it firsthand, I am not surprised why! Now for those who are not familiar with the falls, here are some fun facts about this natural beauty.
1) The Victoria Falls actually spans two countries - Zimbabwe and Zambia, are just over 1 mile wide (1.7 km) and 355 feet (108 m) high.

2) During the wet season over 500 million liters (19 million cubic feet) of water plummets over the edge into the Zambezi River.

3) This incredible amount of water generates a huge amount of spray which can shoot up to 1000 feet into the sky and can be seen 30 miles away.

(Above is the view of Vic Falls from the grounds of the Vic Falls Hotel during the low water season)

4) Victoria Falls was originally named “Mosi-oa-Tunya” (the smoke that thunders) by the Kololo people who lived on the north bank of the Zambezi river.

We visited in December, which is the dry season, which means the water flowing down the falls is at its lowest levels for the year (about 1/10th of the water flow of the peak season in April). As it turns out, this is probably the best time to visit Victoria Falls because you can actually SEE the falls during this time period. During peak season, the water is flowing so rapidly and with so much volume that you cannot see anything but spray and rain.

(First view of Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe entrance)

(Below is the first section of the Falls)

(Jason and I overlooking the Main Falls)

(Below is the Main Falls)

(Below is Rainbow Falls - my favorite point!)

(And finally, below is the view from the furthest point on the Zimbabwe side overlooking the Zambia side)

Since Victoria Falls spans Zimbabwe and Zambia, you can actually stay on either side of the falls when you visit. We originally planned to stay on the Zambia side due to the political instability in Zimbabwe, but we soon found out that during the dry season, not much water flows on the Zambia side so it would be best to stay on the Zimbabwe side for better viewing of the falls. We were a little nervous at first, but once we arrived at the Vic Falls Hotel and noticed the security around the hotel, we were much more at ease. Even when we ventured out to a neighboring hotel for lunch (The Safari Lodge) and shopping in town, we did not feel unsafe in any way. I am still curious to visit the Zambia side to see how it differs -- next time for sure (but only if it is during high season)! If anyone has any recommendations -- please share!

1 comment:

  1. The older, indigenous name of Mosi-oa-Tunya is the name in official use in Zambia. The World Heritage List recognises both names. While it 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 (5,600 ft)and height of 108 meters (360 ft), forming the largest sheet of falling water in the world. The falls maximum flow rate compares well with that of other major waterfalls.
    Facts on victoria falls


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