SA 2013 Day 9 – Botswana to Victoria Falls

Another early start to the day, this time with much more crowd. The bus load of tourists were here, on top of the usual crowd. During move out, we were told to wait till our vehicle arrived, along with a few other guests. We waited and soon all the crowd cleared out except for the passengers that were to board the same safari vehicle as we. Again we were informed to wait, the vehicle that was supposed to pick us had broke down and they were sending another one. We had a sinking feeling that this was not going to be a smooth day for us, and we had to decide to abandon the tour if it came too late as we had to cross over to Vic Falls today and we might be late for that too. After waiting like for an hour since the guests left, the vehicle finally arrived. The female guide didn’t seemed sure of what was going on, took ages to get the warm drinks, drove really slowly to the Chobe park and took a lot of time with the registeration. Luckily, another familiar guide arrived soon and picked up from there. Soon we were moving but already day had broken.

Hippos were up and about today. Quite far from us though

Hippos were up and about today. Quite far from us though

Saw a group of Saber antelopes moving away when we passed them.

Saw a group of Saber antelopes moving away when we passed them.

Vultures. A closer shot.

Vultures. A closer shot.

The interesting part of the drive was when we drove into the path of a massive group of buffalos that came from the river. We were surrounded as they moved across the pathway into the land beyond.

Buffalo eating the shrubs

Buffalo eating the shrubs

Buffaloes crossing

Buffaloes crossing

Buffalo calf

Buffalo calf

Baby elephant amongst the adults

Baby elephant amongst the adults

No cats. After the break, we ventured more. The guide knows that we weren’t interested in the other animals and really tried his best to bring us to the lions’ territories. No luck though there were footprints. We heard news that previous days some of the safari passengers actually saw a lioness with her cub feeding on a buffalo in the park. We were unlucky and the lions were possibly full for these couple of days.

We saw a group of zebras, first time in the Chobe NP.

Zebras in Chobe

Zebras in Chobe

Huge Malibu stork

Huge Malibu stork

On the return, we saw a Jackal in the plains, first time for us. But safari experience did not turned out as what we hoped for. We saw and experienced the grandeur of existence in the wild but missed the infrequent predator presence that would really showcase the art of survival of these animals. We should revisit another safari in the future, Kenya perhaps?

Jackal, last rare sighting before going back

Jackal, last rare sighting before going back

As expected, we were late when we returned because the guide actually extended our stay at the park for the delay in the morning. So it was all a rush again. We wanted to put some items back into the luggage but the helpers had already brought out all our stuff and left them at the lobby. One helper assisted to bring back one of the luggage and we rushed to keep whatever we need to keep in the room, used the toilet and a final check before moving to a waiting safari vehicle that would ferry us to the Botswana and Zimbabwe check point. It was a 30mins drive and almost the same route back to the ferry terminal, only to turn at the cross junction. All the crossings was really just close to each other, so it was no wonder this trip with Chobe and Victoria Falls was so popular.

When we reached the crossing, we saw a long line of tourists waiting to get their passports chopped. After unloading the luggage, we searched for the Wild Horizons rep who easily recognized us (easy since it was not too difficult to identify Singaporeans from the other Caucasians). There we also recognised a Japanese family who shared the morning safari game drive with us. They were also going over to Vic Falls. Had a conversation with them and found that the husband was working in Joburg and they were there on a holiday before heading back to Tokyo with the kids. Awesome!

And the great thing that I pride myself as a Singaporean traveller is my red book of a passport. This document allows me to go many places without a need for a visa, and with that, less hassle at the customs and of course a short cut to the front of the queue. The rep took our passports, went to the customs, stamped the passports and we were on our way to the mini van, where the rest of the passengers were waiting. Another 1hr ride, the van reached Vic Falls area, delivered the 2 groups of passengers to their respective hotels and finally to ours, Ilala lodge, which was closest to the Vic Falls. Check in and went to the activities counter to book our heli ride to check out the falls.

Nice colonial deco at the main waiting hall

Nice colonial deco at the main waiting hall

Desktop available for surfing the internet

Desktop available for surfing the internet

Room was reasonably comfortable with a full view of the outside

Room was reasonably comfortable with a full view of the outside

Bathtub available though the tiles make the toilet look old

Bathtub available though the tiles make the toilet look old

Separate rain shower

Separate rain shower

There wasn’t much time and soon the Shearwater group rep was at the lobby to pick us up for our flight. Travelling some 15mins to the helipad, we waited for our turn and looked around the shop of sourvenirs. The helicopter could pick up 6 passengers at a time. We were lucky to secure a slot because these trips were really always fully booked. The best seat was obviously the front one beside the pilot and you had to be shameless to really get that seat. The back had 5 seats and if you took the middle one, which I did, you might not get the best pix. I had to move into a position cleared of the body parts of the passenger beside the window to have a good shot of the falls.

Before boarding the heli, the crew would take photos and video the whole experience on the helipad location. Therefore, if you had the intention to purchase anything, you gotta remember to look good. It was kinda costly to purchase those photos and video, which in my opinion was nothing much as it did not feature video shots on the flight itself but a video of the falls taken (god knows how )long ago. Not much a value to me. This was of course shown to us after the flight and no one from our group bought it. We were pretty sure those images on our cameras were worth much more.

Shearwater helicopter

Shearwater helicopter

Different package, different route, different price of course!

Different package, different route, different price of course!

We took the cheaper option Flight of Angels, at a price of about 180SGD per pax for a 15mins flypass experience, tilting at both sides for equal amount of time.

Zambezi river while flying towards the Falls

Zambezi river while flying towards the Falls

After the gorge comes the falls

After the gorge comes the falls

1vFalls 15

1tFalls 13

1sFalls 12

1rFalls 11

1ofFalls 9

1wFalls 16

1qFalls 10

1uFalls 14

Just fired away! You had only 15mins, what would you expect? Vic Falls is magnificent from the skies and an experience worth the money. I supposed the microflight would be interesting too, just that it was only offered at the Zambian side.

1xFalls 18

1yFalls 23

Rainbow shot

Rainbow shot

After the sales pitch in the form of the video presentation, we left the area, boarding the vehicle that brought us back to the lodge. Hungry since we hadn’t had lunch, we went into Vic Falls town to look for food.

Railway track that runs through this town

Railway track that runs through this town

Had some tapas for lunch instead.

Had some tapas for lunch instead.

There were baboons everywhere. Have to be careful as they could be aggressive in front of food.

There were baboons everywhere. Have to be careful as they could be aggressive in front of food.

After lunch, we walked around town to see what’s available. It was a really small town, not really interesting. There were many tour agencies selling different activities packages and a few cafes and eateries. There were also people that goes around selling trillions of Zim currencies. I bought some but did not checked myself, there was just too many zeroes. I googled when I was back in the hotel and then I knew the biggest one was 100 trillion dollars. The rest of the 8-10 notes costs me 5USD.

Saw a warthog just outside our room. Very amazed to stay so close to animals.

Saw a warthog just outside our room. Very amazed to stay so close to animals.

The pickup from the hotel came about half an hour before the cruise and luckily we were informed by the recept that that’s the norm for waiting. The bus we boarded proceeded to go to a few places to picked up the other passengers for the cruise. About 30mins and we arrived at location. Saw a group of native africans dancing and singing, as a performance for the people on the ferry. That was also to promote their CD that consisted of their music. The wait to move off was really long as tour buses and mini vans arrived bit by bit and passengers slowly boarded the ferry. Went to the front of the ferry (away from the drinks bar) to get the best view.

Saw naughty baboons going into the car.

Saw naughty baboons going into the car.

Dancing and singing hard to get some sales going

Dancing and singing hard to get some sales going

Cruising as the sun goes down

Cruising as the sun goes down

As we cruise towards the falls, we see hippos near the tiny islands.

As we cruise towards the falls, we see hippos near the tiny islands.

2iAnother hippo yawning

Another yawning hippo

Another yawning hippo

Mist in the distance, where the falls was. Our ferry was not heading that direction.

Mist in the distance, where the falls was. Our ferry was not heading that direction.

The ferry was an easy ride along the Zambezi, with introduction to the falls, the surrounding and the wildlife around. Drinks were unlimited which included the various types of beer that you could try from around the region. There were some snacks too.

Sunset on the Zambezi

Sunset on the Zambezi

The sun here is gentle on the eyes too

The sun here is gentle on the eyes too

When we arrived back at the jetty, the dancers are still there, seemingly giving the passengers a second chance at purchasing their CD. But tough luck, the passengers left for the waiting buses. I supposed if there is another day to dance and sing, there is hope.

The return trip was boring as there weren’t anything to see. We passed by a couple of hotels where passengers alighted and we were the last ones to alight. Back at the hotel, there was a restaurant but we weren’t exactly liking it. Was a little uncertain about walking into town since it was not really brightly lit but we went anyway. It was actually not that bad. Made it to a restaurant called Mama Africa and it was crowded! We didn’t have any reservations and thus waited for about 20mins for a seat. Ordered crocodile steak and had to wait another 30mins at least due to the crowd. While waiting, a another native group of dancing singers came to promote their CD. Difference was there were people from the crowd that joined them for the dance. Some entertainment. Food was ok and as expected, tasted like rubbery chicken but definitely worth a try for some native cuisine.

Went back after dinner for internet and TV and a great sleep on the King size bed.

ziyi

About ziyi

A travel addict from the little red dot otherwise known as Singapore. Started blogging during travel to help the aging forgetful mind remember the experience of each destination.

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