Morning started with a nice Al Fresco breakfast, choice from the menu for cooked food and bread & cereal from the self help buffet table. Overhead, we heard flights of angels and microflights going about their rounds. There was a morning tour of the falls that was included in the package. In the afternoon, it was free and easy. We were thinking of visiting the devil’s pool in the Vic falls and thus thought that we should check with the tour guide if their company could arrange for such trips. The bus picked us up about 15 mins later than the agreed time. We initially got worried and ask our recept for assistance and he called on behalf and assured us that the vehicle was on the way. Eventually we chilled and surfed the free wifi for info till the bus picked up us and a few other passengers thereafter before reaching the gate to the national park. It was really close to our lodge but because of the detour, it took awhile.
The tour consisted of some intro, history of the discovery of the falls by Dr. Livingstone and other misc stuff. It was a really easy walk along the full length of 1.7km with very easy path (and rainy spots too). Our time of visit was at a period where the falls was picking up since it was breaking from winter to spring. It was a good time to see the falls since the misting wasn’t too much, but then you would not be able to feel the full force of the falls. It really depends on what you want. For this walking tour, our entrance fees were all taken care of. The only thing that was required was basically registration of ourselves for the visit.
The smoke that thunders, native name translated was really appropriate. The various vantage point along the 1.7km provided the experience as you proceeded towards the fall. The initial devils cataract viewpoint already shown the massive amount of water gushing earthwards, roaring as the water made contact with the ground 100m below.
This waterfall was wowing us over as we moved from view point to view point. There was a stretch of pathway on the way to the main falls that had “rain” coming down from the sky but actually from the falls. We brought our poncho and wore them quickly. Some of the other visitors didn’t and just went ahead. One such couple actually said they enjoyed it! I tried to take photos of the middle section but was not able to, having so many droplets formed on the lens, even though the camera was splash resistant. Within minutes we were already near the end of the falls.
From the tour I finally understood that the difference between seeing the Vic Falls from the Zimbabwe side vs the Zambia side. The main path for viewing was accessible from Zimbabwe and the remaining short section from Zambia. Therefore, it would be best to visit Zimbabwe for the various viewpoints of the falls. However, Zambia side actually offered something more exciting, the dip in Devil’s pool and Angel’s pool! So if you want to do both, you gotta really plan.
After the end of the falls, we arrived a viewing location where we can see a bridge that links Zimbabwe and Zambia. This was actually on a no man’s land and the bridge has various activities such as bungee, zipline and bridge swing, hosted by a Zambia based company. We decided that we should do a zipline across the ridge since we were too scared for the bungee or bridge swing.
At the end of the tour, we talked to the guide on our intentions to stay so that we can walk at leisure the places where we want to spend more time. Also inquired about the dipping at Devils’ pool. He thought that the pool might be closed and that the one opened was probably Angel’s pool. This all depended on the strength of the waters leading to the falls since a boat ride was required to bring interested people to Livingstone island. He advised us to check back with the main office in town for a clearer picture. We went around for a bit more before we walked back to town for about 15mins. There was a dedicated space opposite the entrance of Vic Falls that was for the curios stalls. There I asked for my 100 trillion dollars note, which I negotiated for USD3. Seemed like the quantity of these notes were running low, not everyone had them and these notes were no longer printed.
We went to the various tour agencies in town to check out the prices for the Vic Falls dip and the zipline. After comparison, we booked our dip in one of the tour agent that was the cheapest and the zipline at Shearwaters. It was kind of funny when the other agencies mentioned that there weren’t anymore slots left for the Vic Falls dip but heck, we paid and so it should be ok. The other problem was the agent said she was unable to get to the Zambian agent and we arranged to have the pick up at our hotel at 3pm since we were going ziplining first. Shearwaters provided a transport for us to the bridge which was a short distance away from the Vic Falls entrance.
We had to bring our passports but inform the customs that we were going to the bridge and not crossing to Zambia. They would then provide us a stamped paper to give to the gate guard when we returned. The walk to the center of the bridge took about 10mins as it wasn’t really that close. Then it was another 5mins across the half of the bridge and up the slope to reach the registration area.
For those that were not used to chaos would not like that place. It was really messy, people crowding at the table to get registered, no queue or anything like that. For Singaporeans like us, we were kinda lost and didn’t know what was going on. I asked the person at the table and he just told us to wait while registering one bungee jumper and another few persons. And it was then we knew we could just have bought the tickets on the spot, without having to go back to town to do so and wasted that traveling time. Then it was 12 noon. Even before I could move, he announced to all the disappointed waiting customers, to come back after lunch, 1pm-ish. We asked if we could wait at the registration and he said no, just wait around. Luckily, there was a cafe operated by the same company cooking lunches and selling beer. We ordered a meal and sat at a table in the open, out in the sun under a picnic umbrella for lunch. It got worse. Soon a group of baboons came up from the open, jumped onto the seat, reached for our fries and became aggressive with teeth showing! I instinctively grabbed my camera (after hearing how some tourist fell to his death trying to save his camera from baboons back in the safari time) and my beer bottle to try to scare it away but it wasn’t scared! I had no choice but to remove the plate and we moved back into the sheltered area. We had to throw away everything since the baboon touched the fries and most probably our chicken chop. With that minimum lunch, we waited close to the table as the time approached 1pm. In the meantime, I was trying to call back to the tour agent to see if there was any confirmation and if they could pick us up at the customs instead but it didn’t get through, all 3 numbers and handphone.
1pm and the registeration wasn’t open. One American was standing there lining up, I guessed that he was used to the same system that I was familiar with. I stood behind him and soon, a line started to form. Despite this, the table guy told us to sit around first, reason being the stations master and assistants were not back for their lunch yet! It would take probably another half an hour for them to get back, eat their lunch and go back to their stations. What?? More waiting? That sucked. We stubbornly stood there until the table guy suggested that we should remember and agree our queue position and go back to sit around. Well, we thought it was workable and did just that.
2pm. Got registered. About the solution that was suggested, it worked fine for the first 4 people. Others behind started to argue that they were 5th and what not. Chaos again. Unfortunately, the bridge is dominated by absolute monopoly and I do not see that any improvement would come about from this. I think the only tip I would give if you are interested in bungee jumping into the valley from the bridge is to go really early, beat the crowd, have lots of patience and not too much planned out for the day.
Even after registration, we had to wait for the station master to prepare us, donning the harness and stuff like that. We had to wait for the camera guy too. For this, we could not bring loose items like bags and had to leave it with the guy at the table, in a black box next to him. Talk about security. Not much of a choice anyhow. Walked along a footpath until we reached the launch site. Took many pictures, even one that the station master took for us. The camera guy also shot some but did not object to our photo taking. Loaded up, camera ready, one, two and off we went. Videographed the whole 10secs journey. Was really a thrilling experience. But too damn short to wait 3 hrs for it. But I guess this experience was much longer than the bungee people.
By the time we walked the whole bridge back to the preparation place for the return of the harnesses, the reclaiming of our belongings and the rejecting of the professional photos, it was almost 3pm. We were rushing back to the customs where the Shearwaters driver was still waiting for us! Really thankful for his service, tipped him after we reached the hotel. The recept then informed that a lady was looking for us and had told us that the trip was cancelled as it was over booked. That was disappointing. There weren’t even timeslots for another week! I should have booked in advance. You should too if you are thinking of dipping in the infinity pool of the Vic Falls.
So the afternoon was void of activities due to this change. Went back to the hotel to rest instead. The view from the room was entertaining too as we see wild animals pass in front of us.
Didn’t want to go out for dinner and so had ours at the restaurant in the lodge. It was one of the best as according to tripadvisor and so we had to try. Took Alfresco again and though it was a little dark, the food was pretty tasty and we enjoyed the romantic night out. An interesting thing happened, a hippo and a buffalo actually visited the lodge, the same grassy area in front of our room. I tried to take photos of it but it was really dark. Even when we returned to our room, I could see its silhouette amongst the trees.
Returning to South Africa the next day for our final leg of the tour.