Friday, September 4, 2015

July 24 - Victoria Falls by helicopter, markets, and lunch at the historic Vic Falls Hotel

This morning we left early so that we could get to the falls to meet our helicopter for a spectacular flight of angels above the falls.  It was so cool to ride in a helicopter over the falls and the views were superb.  From above one can see how the river has cut a deep gorge over several hundred feet down through the rock.  The river plunges over the falls in a mile wide spectacle dropping over 300 feet to the great pool below before snaking its way down through narrow canyon twisting and turning back on itself as it flows towards the Indian Ocean. 

We could see the historic rail bridge spanning the falls, the famous whitewater rapids far below, and the lush foliage of Victoria Falls National Park was abuts the river on the Zimbabwe side.  The helicopter ride lasted about 20 minutes and it was worth every penny!  Later we went into a craft market to do some shopping and then took a guided walking tour along the edge of the cliff top in the park where we were able to see the falls up close and personal.  In fact, at times we were soaked by the spray which actually comes down like a hard rain in certain spots.  

We were happy we had raincoats that had been provided with our tour.  It was fun to walk out to the edge and peer down as the water cascaded powerfully past.  You could feel the vibration and power of the river and hear the thunderous roar echoing through the canyon.  It felt like Hawaii in the park because it was warm and humid with lots of ferns and greenery.  At the end of our walking tour we had a great view of the famous Vic Falls bridge which spans the gorge between Zimbabwe and Zambia.  Our timing was perfect as we were able to see a bungee jumper launch off the bridge and drop 110 meters down then pinball around over the gorge.  Good fun.  

One of the highlights of the day was a grand lunch at the historic and colonial Victoria Falls hotel which just oozes with history.  The hotel was the place to stay in Vic Falls for those who took the historic rail journey from South Africa in the early 1900’s.  Imagine a perfect whitewashed Victorian era building with columns and a grand entrance flanked by porters in crisp red uniforms leading inside to a wood paneled reception and then into a spacious lounge with comfortable couches, fireplace, bar, library and grand dining room.  But the real highlight is the wide veranda which overlooks a well kept garden and has wonderful views into the gorge.  We ordered some nice cold Victoria Falls lagers and enjoyed a delicious pepper steak meal.  The beef in Zimbabwe is some of the finest in the world so this was a real treat. Of course we had to sample the yummy deserts which included home made sorbets with various local fruits.  This is a classic stop and a great way to toast your arrival in Victoria Falls.  The town itself is quite small and surprisingly there is not a lot of historic buildings.  Just lots of craft markets and boutiques selling shona soapstone sculptures, wood carvings, textiles and jewelry.  The rest of the shops are dedicated to the various adventure sports on offer from bungee to rope swing, elephant rides to whitewater rafting, helicopter and microlite flights, sunset cruises and more…While we enjoyed our visit to the falls it was great to get back to the secluded bush and our lovely lodge along the river for sundowners on the deck.

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