Monday, 26 October 2015

A Broad Abroad: Victoria Falls

In the previous instalment of this occasional series based on a trip to 1990s Zimbabwe, we toured Hwange Game Park and saw the 'big five' animals - eventually. Now read on...
We say goodbye to our Hwange hosts and head for the airport. Sod's law dictates that we see more animals during our high speed drive than on all the slower game drives.

At the airport security checks are carried out behind closed doors in special rooms - one for each gender. I am given the whisky bottle, in metal tube, to hold while the rest of the bag is searched. Then we sit outside on the lawn waiting for the plane to arrive - Heathrow was never like this!

At Vic Falls, we accost the wildlife Safari rep - who is not expecting us - but takes us on a trip anyway. After Hwange, the bush here seems very brown and dry; in some places it is on fire. Not surprisingly, there are few animals about.

The Rainbow Hotel is comfortable and friendly, with a very welcome pool - and lots of German tourists. The low spot of the entire holiday (although still quite good fun) is the champagne sunset cruise: the boat is a speedboat with eight other occupants, the champagne is Zimbabwean (!) and sunset is obscured by cloud. Nevertheless we see hippo and a baby crocodile.

Humidity is very high at Vic Falls which makes sleeping difficult. It is made even harder when the air conditioning blows up and Michael insists on imitating a baby elephant as he moves around the room in the dark.

Deciding it is far too hot to think for ourselves or walk anywhere, we sign up for the standard tour of Vic Falls. First stop is the craft village where we learn about five different tribes, none of whom appear to treat their women very well.

After brief diversions with a chameleon and a huge tree, we finally reach the Falls themselves. Having chosen the driest time of the year to travel to Africa, we shouldn't be surprised to find the Horseshoe Falls totally lacking in water. My unfavourable comparisons with Iguacu, which I have previously visited on my own, are greeted with disdain, so I shut up. And I have to admit it is still a most impressive sight. The warnings of the guide put most people off the climb down to the viewpoint of the Devil's Cataract, but we find it well worth the effort. Raincoats are not necessary, but the spray in the rain forest is most welcome.

Once again, the afternoon is spent in an orgy of sun and swimming, then it is off to the craft village once more for tribal dancing. This turns out to be more varied and interesting that we expect - especially the man and young boy who pick up iron bars in their teeth. 

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