Every elephant has to carry its own trunk around- Zimbabwean proverb
Zimbabwe land of wonders maybe? Home to the 7th natural wonder of the world this beautiful land locked, southern African country is remarkable beyond belief. Just like Angola, it had a turbulent political past but has since been making efforts to rebuild its country. Our trip there was one for the books as it brought out a daring side of me I didn’t know existed.
This particular long weekend had just flown over both our heads, we had no idea the Thursday and Friday were holidays until the Monday of that week. Tuesday we talked about visiting Victoria Falls and Wednesday we were on the evening flight to Harare (3 hours from Luanda). Little did we know that we were about to embark on a crazy, adrenaline filled adventure for the next four days.
Harare: Duration: 1 night
Accommodation: Cresta Lodge
Restaurant: Victoria Twenty- Two
We arrived in Harare when the sun was about to set, so we really did not get to see much on the way to the hotel. It really didn’t help that the entire city was in darkness, barely any street lamps and if so, very dimly lit. We got to our hotel and was very disappointed, but was excited for what was ahead. We settled in and then headed out for dinner. The restaurant however, was a gorgeous garden restaurant with an old world charm and fantastic fusion food. There were not many options for great restaurants in the city but this was recommended as one of the best and it definitely lived up to that.
Victoria Falls: Duration 3 nights
Accommodation: Victoria Falls Safari Club
Restaurants: Restaurant at lodge, The Palm Resturant and The
Boma Dinner and Drum Show
It was a 30 minute drive from the airport, on a road that seemed too stretched for miles with forests lining both sides. The driver explained that to the right there are settlements and to the left there are animals (including lions) and that they sometimes cross over and kill the cattle in the villages. One thing that was absolutely admirable in Zimbabwe was that animals and people lived together in harmony. Driving through the little town you’d see elephants having a feast on the surrounding trees and baboons running around and everyone was so unbothered.
We arrived to the lodge and it was just stunning. The deck overlooked the jungle and a watering hole, where you could sit and have afternoon tea and watch herds of animals go by (not a bad way to spend your day). The rooms were spacious and luxurious with your own private patio gazing out into the surrounding mass of trees and wildlife.
Day 1: We didn’t waste any time, we quickly changed and headed out to the Victoria Falls Park. The sound of the force of the water falling makes your heart beat a little faster and the anticipation was endearing. From the Zimbabwean side facing the falls the spray was so hard, it was just as if it was raining. I guess you can say it never stops raining in Victoria Falls.
Later that evening, we took a sunset game drive through Livingstone Private reserve. There we were up close and as personal as you can get with a wild black rhino (critically endangered species) and herds of water buffalos making its way across the reserve. The evening ended with sunset drinks and dinner back at our lodge.
Day 2: The next day we started early as we had to cross the boarder to Zambia. It was actually quite funny because we went through immigration then walked (or in our case took a taxi) a mile through “No Mans Land” and went through immigration on the Zambian side. A ten minute drive took us to Victoria Falls Hotel where we were about to do something that I deemed insane. When I first googled that you can swim to the edge of the waterfall I tried to hide it from my husband (damn you internet) that didn’t work! Now that we were there and I ran out of all my “Hell NO”s” I just had to put all my fears aside and go along with the plan. We got to Livingstone Island on a little motor boat through and was asked to change into our swimwear and follow the guide.
We walked out onto the island’s edge where the water was rushing past both sides with such force you could barely hear what the guide was saying, but for some strange reason all my fears went away. I was cautious but not freaking out like I was before. The guide got down into the raging water and then told me to follow. There was a short area of rushing water to cross and I was nervous that I would be pickled up and carried away by the falls. Somehow though, I felt anchored and held on tightly to the surrounding rocks and using my feet to wedge into every nock and cranny to make it across and over another rock into the main pool. I couldn’t concentrate on the instructions being given to me to me at that point because little fishes were nibbling at my feet and I was laughing hysterically. “Oh great, death by laughter”! I eventually made it across and closer to the edge of the falls, and to be honest I felt great, it was so exhilarating! After that AMAZING experience we had lunch on the island at the edge of the falls and headed back to the Zimbabwean side.
We got back to the hotel in the afternoon and got ready for our next daring activity. At around 3pm a bus picked us up and headed back to the direction of the airport. Walking with lions was actually a lot calmer than all the crazy things we did this trip. If you followed the rules and respected the lions they were good. Penga and Pax are brother and sister lions and we spent the afternoon getting to know them. You really got to know and appreciate their personalities. Penga was very playful, always up to mischief and seemed to like her own way. Pax was just chill and cool, but didn’t like to be crossed the wrong way (very lion of him!) Honestly, what else could you ask for out of this experience… we spent an afternoon with Lions! That evening we had dinner at The Palm Restaurant, which was also set out on the garden of a hotel and in the distance you could hear the faint sounds of the falls.
Day 3: Well nothing in this universe could have prepared me for this one! Firstly we had to sign a contract stating they were not liable if we died and there’s a 50% chance something could happen. Oh lovely!!! We drove for about an hour to a location on top of a mountain and I was super confused as I thought we were driving to the water, where we would get on a raft and then figure it out after that… but noooo! We had to hike one and a half hours down a gorge (and I was wearing sandals… tsk tsk!!) to where the rafts were being assembled in a little bay. We were separated into groups, given very strict safety instructions especially about our life vests (it has to be extremely tight because it can slip off in the rapids) and a tutorial on what to do in certain situations.
As we got out onto the river my heart was about to combust as I was now hearing our first rapid approaching. This is called “The mother” the guide said, it’s a category 4 so brace yourself. I almost considered trying my luck swimming back in the crocodile infested waters after hearing that. Let’s just say we barely made it through the first one successfully…. I was now petrified. Rapid after rapid it was more and more difficult (we had maybe two easier rapids that felt more like a ride at a water park). We eventually got to the rapid called “The Terminator”. At that point, in the blink of an eye, I saw my husband fly over me and I was trapped under the raft as it flipped. I was now underwater as the water tossed me around (I felt like I was in a washing machine.. literally!), I then reached around for the edge of the boat and pulled myself under. The water was rushing and pushing me so hard that it was hard to stay above. The guide flipped the raft over and pulled us all onboard. Meanwhile my husband and another guy were being carried away by the rapids arm in arm.
Thanks to God we were all okay but we were far from done yet. We still had another 2 hours to go before we got of this raft and there was no way out! We eventually made it (I could not have been happier to be on land) and started the climb back up the mountain. It rained F bombs from everyone because we were all tired and beaten up and it wasn’t over yet. That took another 2 and a half hours and we were finally DONE! Lunch was provided and everyone was happy to get back on the bus, feeling very accomplished that we survived the Zambezi river.
That evening after soaking my sore muscles in hot water for hours we were off to a dinner and drum show. This was another fantastic experience, very touristy but great food and the entertainment was fun and light. That night we slept like babies and awoke the next morning ready to make our way back home.
In all my life, I have never had a trip this adventurous! Zimbabwe is the place to go if you’re a thrill seeker. Like I said in my first post, Africa forces you to be outgoing and pushes you out of your comfort zone!