Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
We started this morning at 6 a.m. with a freezing cold game drive into Chobe National Park. After such an amazing viewing experience by water yesterday, we had high expectations for what wildlife we might spot on land. And very quickly, they were met.
Just inside the gates was a pack of wild dogs. We spent a couple of minutes watching them hunting for breakfast before moving on. About 20 minutes later we returned to see them feasting on an impala.
Next were the usual suspects: hippos, baboons, springbok and a fish eagle hunting prey off in the distance.
Our biggest find was several African buffalo, which, up until this point, have eluded us. They are also some of the most dangerous animals to see in the wild. We got within 15 feet. And then, on our way out of the park, we spotted several hyena — half cats, half bears; just weird looking.
We left Kasane and traveled about 20 minutes to the Kazangula Road border crossing into Zimbabwe. Our visas were $30USD; the cash was simply thrown into the drawer by an immigration official. Who knows where it ended up?
Upon seeing Victoria Falls in 1855, Dr. David Livingstone wrote in his journal: “On sights as beautiful as this, angels in their flight must have gazed.” That could be an understatement. With the rainy season having just ended, there were between 8-9 million liters of water pouring over the edge every second. It was simply awe-inspiring — and wet.
The falls have the scenic backdrop of Iguazu and the amazing power of Niagara. It’s not hard to understand why Livingstone was so choked for words and why they remain one of Africa’s largest tourist attractions. Yet, the park was surprisingly quiet, which might have been more an indication of tourists’ unease about visiting Zimbabwe than the falls themselves.
The situation here is actually quite sad. Due to the notorious hyper-inflation, Zim has abandoned its currency and now accepts U.S. dollars, Euros, South African rand, Botswana pula — essentially anything but its own. On the street, young men try to sell souvenir 100 Trillion dollar notes — today, they’re not even worth the paper they’re printed on — by advertising “the worst inflation in the world.”
Once back, we only had a half hour to shower and change before departing for our sunset boat cruise on the Zambezi. It was one of those all-you-can-drink packages so we all enjoyed ourselves as the sky wowed us once again.
Arriving back at shore, we posed for one last group photo.
Dinner was at another backpacker lodge, Shoestring, which served up some tasty pizzas. Incredibly, the kitchen ran out of flour — which shows just how scarce basic food items have become here. The former “bread basket of Africa” no longer has any bread.
We stayed out late, celebrating the end of our 1,800-kilometer trip.