Victoria Falls

Trip Start Dec 23, 2011
Trip End Jan 28, 2012

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Flag of Zimbabwe  ,
Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year from another exotic part of the world. Whilst half the hotel seemed to be curled up on the grass next to the pool drying out, we had a leisurely breakfast outside the restaurant, then walked in to town to the 24 hour internet cafe. We figured that the typical internet cafe crowd wouldn't be wanting to video Skype their mum early after New Years Eve, and we were right.

We were the only people there, so speed should be good. Right? Wrong! Every photo took about 15 minutes to load up to the blog. They obviously had the system tweaked so that you could read email and internet pages, but you couldn't slow the system down by uploading much. In fact, after an hour of repeatedly trying to send a text-only email from my iPad, I gave up. I presume that they had the outgoing ports blocked.

So we went looking for another internet cafe, but the first was closed, and the other was 'having wi-fi problems'. OK, now for plan C. Yesterday we were told that to use the internet at our hotel, we had to buy a token at the camping ground in town. Being in town, we paid them a visit. 'No', said reception, you have to buy them at the restaurant. 'No', said the restaurant, you have to buy them at reception. Sigh. Reception offered to look around, but eventually came back and told us that they must have run out. However, they said, there is a hotel at the other end of town that also sold the tokens. Being out of options we tramped over there, and miraculously they had one.

So we sat around the poolside at one of the hotel's tables, and logged on. Not only did it work, but it was fast. I had seven blog entries all loaded in half an hour, and the banking done and the phone cards topped up a short while later. Success!

Had a celebratory milkshake back in town for lunch, and started walking towards the falls, about a kilometre down the road. Along the way we narrowly avoided being run down by a group of warthogs who sprang out of the bush and calmly walked across the road. (Why does a warthog cross the road?)

Spent a lovely afternoon walking along the path overlooking the falls, looking at all of the different angles of the falls from all of the various viewing points. It was nicely shaded, and you even got drenched with spray at certain points to keep you cool. Like Niagara Falls, it has two main falls separated by an island in the middle. There's even a statue of Dr Livingston who 'discovered' the falls - well, at least he revealed them to the world.

The only drawback to the falls, in typical Zimbabwe fashion, is that they are fiendishly expensive (US$30 p.p. per entry), and poorly maintained. You don't even get a map or guide for your entrance fee. The few directions there are, are over 50 years old. If you want to go bungy jumping there is an additional park entrance fee, and if you want to fly over the falls in a helicopter, there is yet a third.

You can measure falls by their height, their width, or their flow, and Victoria Falls isn't in the top 10 in any of those categories. (Flow is Niagara, width is Iguazu, and height is Angel Falls in Venezuela) However, they have the cheek to proclaim that, by a "combination of these factors", Victoria Falls are the biggest.

Late afternoon we dropped in to the food court of the casino as we walked past on the way home, and had pizza for tea, mostly in the dark due to a power outage, before heading back for a quiet evening packing in preparation for Nairobi.
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