The smoke that thunders, Victoria Falls
We set off from Hwange National Park heading for Victoria Falls, Henk, Teresa and Tinneke are also heading up to the falls so we decide to go together. As we get closer the police check frequency starts to increase, we have been lucky so far but on one of the stops we are fined $20 US for not displaying the GVM on the outside of the vehicle, I am not sure if it's a requirement but its pointless arguing so we pay and get on our way. As soon as we get to town we head to the Lookout Café, a café perched on the edge of the high gorge with a view down to Vic Falls bridge the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, we have lunch watching the bungees off the bridge and zip lines going across the gorge. After lunch we say our goodbyes and head to Vic falls rest camp, camping is so expensive in Vic Falls it's pretty much the same cost as a chalet and since it's still cold at night it was an easy choice.
The next day I head out to find a welder to get some work done on the car and pick up my second $20 fine, even though it was 8am and no cars in site I was done for not stopping at a stop sign when exiting the supermarket. Whilst driving around town we stop at a curio shop, Edwina is very fond of her mum and dads Maori head carvings and I think it would be funny to get our heads carved out of wood, I gesture to Edwina and to my surprise she agrees, they will take 3 days and we will pick them up on our way out of town.
We arrived in Vic Falls approaching a full moon, since they only offer lunar trips 3 days a month we decide to take advantage of the timing and agree we should see the falls for the first time under moonlight. We arrive at the park entrance just as its getting dark and enter the gate and listen to a talk by our guide. He explains that this is only 1 of 3 places in the world where you can observe a lunar rainbow also known as a moonbow. The paths within the park are not lit and we setoff down the myriad of paths with only the moonlight to guide us, the excitement builds as we see the spray pass in front of the moon and Maddalena can hardly hold her excitement in, expressing her emotions. We start at the lower end of the falls and work our way up stopping at the numerous spectacular viewpoints. The lunar rainbow is visible from the first view point, the moonbow is cool and similar to one in the day but not as bright, but just as spectacular is watching the shimmering water coming over the falls in the moonlight. Since we had not seen the falls in the day yet we never got our bearings in the dark, but the disorientation just added to the magical experience for me.
The next day we decide to visit the falls during the day and start at the upper end of the falls where there is yet another spectacular view point looking down the falls with a colourful rainbow in the waterfall spray. We make our way along the falls stopping again at the numerous viewpoints, as we get to the lower end we get closer to the water and since we are here when the water is high get thoroughly soaked at the viewpoints, getting wet is the kids favourite part. The penultimate viewpoint is called the danger point and it's easy to see why, slippery rocks, spray similar to heavy rain and a sheer drop off to the bottom of the falls with no safety railings in sight. As we approach the kids start to climb the rocks oblivious to the danger, we quickly shout at them and halt their climb. We truly love the falls and it is great when such a major tourist attraction lives up to its name as so many don't.
After a couple of days chilling in the campsite we decide to leave Zimbabwe and head to Zambia, the evening before I pick up the carved heads, both myself and Edwina find them entertaining although neither is a true likeness of us. In the morning we exit Zimbabwe pleased I have not picked up another fine and head to Livingstone in Zambia, to get to the Zambia immigration you have to drive on the Victoria Falls Bridge rather special crossing and stunning views just a shame you can't stop on the bridge, the border crossing itself is efficient and speedy not taking too much time.
We head to Jollyboys where we have booked an en-suite room, glad for the first time since Kalahari (6 weeks ago) that we can have a pee in the middle of the night without having to leave our room/tent. The falls span both countries and the next day after settling in we head out to see the falls from the Zambian side. We thoroughly enjoy the Zambian side, walking down and avoiding the baboons to reach the Boiling Pot at the foot of the falls and walking across the bridge to the knife-edge, you get very close to the falls and with the knife-edge bridge you walk across in torrential showers you cannot even hear yourself speak as everything is drown out by the thunder of the falls, you also come out the other side looking like someone just tipped a bucket of water over your head, the kids want to do it again, what is it with kids and water.
Ever since South Africa Luca has wanted a drum and we have been waiting until we are deeper in Africa to buy and he keeps reminding us most weeks, in Botswana we heard of a hippo drum and thought this would make the perfect memento for Luca and since hearing of the hippo drum we have been looking for it. We speak to the curio sellers on exiting the falls, they have heard of the drum and it is a tradition of the local "Tonga" people, it is called Maalawa or Chitendelwa, the curio seller is unsure of the use and it seems the tradition of using it and making it is dying out. Some say it was used for hunting as a hippo will call back when hearing the noise, others say it is used to gather people for tribal festivities. There are none for sale but a seller takes one of the drums on the stall and takes it to his grandfather to convert to a hippo drum, he later brings it to Jollyboys, Luca is delighted and making the hippo noise probably much to the annoyance of the other guests.
We spend the next couple of days chilling out in Livingston planning our trip deeper into Zambia.