At 0800, while eating our porridge, the silence was disturbed by the clattering of helicopters. Sightseeing tours over the falls. USD175 per person for a 15 minute flight. The tours and the noise continue for the entire day, until sunset. An indication of how many tourists there are here and how much is being earned from tourism.
Before doing our own sightseeing we had some tasks to complete. I did all our washing by hand. (Something I haven’t had to do for ages, as most camps are at lodges and have facilities to get laundry done). Dennis cleaned the solar panels and removed the polystyrene filler from between the 2 panels. We also refilled our water tanks.
After an early lunch, we walked to the Falls. We had been advised they were far more impressive than Niagara. (We thought Niagara was very impressive). It was about a 20 minute walk and very hot. Once at the entrance we had to queue to pay the USD50 per person entrance fee. (All tourist attractions here, National Parks etc seem to cost USD50 per person). We are getting through USD pretty quickly.
Once through the entrance gate, there is a pathway with numbered exit points for viewing various parts of the Falls. Victoria Falls are very different to Niagara. Yes, more impressive but in a different way. They are almost like a series of separate falls. The river divides and produces a number of spectacular falls. You cannot see the whole falls from one viewing point, like you can at Niagara.
Having walked the track and seen all the various views, it is easy to see why people want an overall picture from above. The river crashes over a wide basalt cliff, nearly 2 kilometres wide and falls to a depth of over 354 feet. The Zambezi River forms a natural border between Zimbabwe and Zambia and the falls can be viewed from both sides.
David Livingstone, a Scottish Missionary, identified the falls in 1855, providing the British colonial name of Victoria Falls, after Queen Victoria.
Even now, in the dry season, walking along the track beside the Falls, one gets covered in spray. Actually very refreshing in the heat. I can only wonder how much more dramatic it must be after the rainy season. With the continuous moisture from the spray, the vegetation along the track is lush and tropical.
At the end of the track one can view the iron road bridge the takes you between Zimbabwe and Zambia. We made our way back to the entrance and the inevitable retail area. Not bringing any water with us, we were feeling somewhat dehydrated in the heat. We bought bottles of water and sat in the shade to drink them.
Dennis decided to pick a fight with a monkey. It had come and grabbed a plastic bag full of rubbish out of a bin in the shop. Dennis chased it and retrieved the bag. The monkey became quite aggressive. Dennis put the rubbish in an animal proof bin, but the monkey kept returning to the shop bin looking for the bag. When Dennis chased it away it got very angry, hissing and threatening to attack.
Once we had rehydrated, we walked back to the campsite. On the road was a mangled, run over snake. Evidence that there are nasties about. On the way back we were intercepted by some locals who wanted USD for Zimbabwean currency. We said we needed Zambian Kwacha. One guy said he would get some for us and we agreed to meet him at 4pm.
Back at the campsite I thought the pool looked really inviting. However, it was only 20 minutes before we needed to go back for the Kwacha. The guy wasn’t there but another local said he would get him. We waited about 10 minutes, watching a whole tribe of mongooses who obviously lived in the storm drain. No sign of the guy, so we returned to the campsite.
Interaction with locals.
We were almost back at the camp, when the money changing guy ran up behind us. He didn’t have the Kwacha but promised he would bring it to the campsite at 5pm. Still hoping for a dip in the pool, I then remembered that I hadn’t finished sewing in the new zip. That had to, regrettably, take priority.
At 5pm Dennis went to collect the Kwacha. Apparently there was rather a disparity in the amount of USD the local guy wanted for them and the exchange rate Dennis had looked up online. Eventually a deal was reached, however.
While I was sewing in the zip and Dennis was sitting putting photos in his blog a lovely young lady, Whitley, came over to talk to us. She was interested to know what foreign visitors thought of Zimbabweans and Zimbabwe. She had been studying and graduated in civil engineering in China for 5 years and we shared similar views on Chinese objectives in Africa. An interesting young lady.
Darkness came and I still hadn’t quite finished the zip. We headed for the bar and some cold drinks before returning to Poki to cook dinner and another early night.