Ever since a few years ago when AJ and I purchased a personalized travel map for our house, I’ve had Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, marked as a dream travel destination. Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall by surface area in the world (width by height), and it is right on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. When I thought about visiting Africa, Victoria Falls seemed like a foregone conclusion. Of course I was going to go on safari and of course I would see Victoria Falls while I was there. How could I not? So when I discovered that G Adventures offered a safari that included a trip to the Falls, I knew it was the right tour for me.
We entered Zimbabwe from Botswana and managed to survive the border crossing unscathed. Overland border crossings in Africa are notorious for being corrupt, taking a very long time, and generally being unpleasant, and our guide was the most concerned about this one. There are a few different types of visas you can get for entry into Zimbabwe, and which one you need depends on how long you’ll be staying and whether you intend to leave and return. I opted to get a joint visa that would allow me to enter both Zimbabwe and Zambia, while most others opted to stick with the Zimbabwe-only visa. It cost me $50 USD, which was still cheaper than the UK residents paid for their Zimbabwe-only visas!
After a short drive, we arrived at Victoria Falls National Park. Our guide warned us that we would get “soaked” at the Falls and recommended that we dress accordingly and consider buying a poncho. Honestly, I didn’t believe him. I expected to get wet, so I slipped on my Airstorm Jacket from KUHL, but that was the extent of my preparation. This proved to be a mistake.
Victoria Falls National Park has a beautiful trail system set up that takes you from point to point along the massive falls. Since the falls are a mile wide and have shifted over time due to changes in the water flow of the Zambezi River, there are tons of incredible geological formations to see along the way. My first glimpse of the falls took my breath away. The double rainbow didn’t exactly hurt.
It was in that moment that, once again, I was reminded that I really am making my dreams come true. I put Victoria Falls on my bucket list, and in what felt like no time at all (but was actually years in the making), I found myself standing right in front of it. Those moments and realizations remind me of how lucky I am, of course, but they also remind me that, just like my parents told me when I was a kid, anything is possible if you set your mind to it. Maybe that sounds cliche, but it truly does keep me motivated. I know that if I want to go some place badly enough, I can do it – I just might have to overcome a little anxiety, a few logistical challenges, and work a little more to get there.
As we made our way along the trail that would lead us past the falls, I started to notice that the mist we were feeling was increasing intensity. At that point, I was glad I was wearing my rain jacket, but we were a far cry from getting soaked. Besides, the beauty of the falls and the ever-widening view of them was well worth a little dampness.
There are about 9 or 10 different stops/stations on the trail for people to look out at the falls and catch a view, and I stopped at all of them. What was most amazing for me was that pretty much no matter where you were standing, you could see a rainbow somewhere! I assume it’s always like that, but I like to think that maybe it was just the case on that day. Even though I was there in June, during the dry season, there was still pretty good water flow. I’m told that’s not the case if you visit later in the dry season, like August, but we had no problems.
Andddd then the mist basically became a downpour as we reached the end of the trail. If we weren’t already soaked before, we definitely were now. Literally, every inch of my body that was not covered by my (very effective) rain jacket was completely soaked. And you know what? It was awesome. When else are you going to be completely soaked by mist coming off of Victoria Falls? Probably never. Gotta just go with it.
The following day, after my game drive in search of black rhinos, I decided to head over to Zambia. This wasn’t a country I had originally planned on visiting (I didn’t know it was an option!) but when I realized I had the chance, I jumped on it. Country #30! We had a free day to use how we saw fit, and while most of our group either stayed at the pool or headed to go bungy jumping, I opted to visit Livingstone instead. I already had my visa, after all! I ended up having the campground call me a driver who would take me across the border and to Livingstone and then walk around the city with me. My driver’s name was Enough, and he had grown up partially in Victoria Falls and partially in Livingstone, so it ended up being perfect.
I’m not gonna lie – after having very little opportunity to shop on the trip, I was dying to grab some things to bring home. I don’t buy a lot of souvenirs when I travel, but I do have 3 things I try to get in every country: a Christmas ornament, a piece of local artwork, and postcards. I sometimes forego the artwork if I don’t find anything I like, but the ornament and the postcards are non-negotiable. My grandma is 92 and I cannot let her down by failing to send her a postcard. Fortunately, there was a craft market with tons of options for souvenirs at way lower prices than anything you can find in Victoria Falls
After purchasing a few items (but not finding any postcards), we continued to walk around the city. I really enjoyed walking around Livingstone because it gave a glimpse into what life in a city in Africa is really like. Victoria Falls is very touristy (with good reason) and many of the other places I had been on my trip were not really near a population center, so Livingstone was my first chance to see normal life. Everywhere I looked, there were people selling fruit and vegetables, crafts, blankets and more. The best thing was that no one was aggressive or overly salesy, which is sometimes the case in Victoria Falls. We just got to walk around for hours and take in the sites (with me asking hundreds of questions along the way).
Since you are obviously very concerned, please note that I did manage to find postcards eventually, although only one person had them out of all the little shops we visited! The things I do for my grandma 🙂
Unfortunately, I could only spend about half a day exploring Livingstone because I had to be back in time for a sunset cruise on the Zambezi river. Rough life, right? This would be my last night in Africa, so I knew I wanted to send it off with a bang. And what better way to do that than by enjoying another perfect African sunset? In all seriousness, I did two sunset river cruises while on my trip and they were both wonderful. I could have done one every single day and never gotten sick of it!
LEAVE A COMMENT: What’s your “pinch me” travel moment?