One of the Seven natural wonders of the world – The Victoria Falls form the largest curtain of falling water in the world. Sitting at the Zambezi River, with the lush rainforest and wildlife around in abundance, few will argue that Victoria Falls is the most beautiful waterfall in the world.
There are actually two countries sharing the view of the Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe enjoys 75% of the view of the falls with 16 viewpoints to see the large amount of plunging waters! Zambia, however only has a small section call the Eastern Cataract with 1 viewpoint. As Zimbabwe is sitting in the centralise location between Botswana, Zambia and Namibia, it makes a perfect location to include in my African Safari list.
Crossing the border & entering Zimbabwe
For some of the nationalities, i.e. Singapore is a friend to Zimbabwe. When the army guard saw my passport, he told me “Oh, so you are our friend! Great and Welcome!”. I crossed the border hassle free within minutes with no problem and received with a smile on their face. However, things were not the same for the rest of my friends, from Australia, America and British. They have to wait for 45 minutes, for their “checks” and visa application. A simple rule to have a hassle free border crossing experience in Africa, that is to stay calm and patience, you certainly do not wish that they come up with a reason to deny your entry or worse case, detain you!
Safety in Zimbabwe
Due to it’s political instability and raising crime rate, it is a shame that it sort of prevented many from visiting the Victoria falls. Tourism understandably declined drastically during the height of the political tension. Hence, especially when you in town, you need to be really careful. The vibe of the town seems a quite okay to me though, but I was warned and cautioned by my South African mates to be very careful! Zimbabwe has considerably high violent crime rate in the world! Apparently, there was quite a number of foreign visitors have been assaulted or robbed while walking in the town of Victoria Falls, especially after dark. So, please be cautious. I should say I am very fortunate and lucky, there wasn’t anything unpleasant when I was in Zimbabwe.
That being said, petty crime still exist and just like any other place, we just gotta stay safe and be aware of the environment. Most people in the town understand tourists are their liveihood and therefore will not do anything to jeopardise their rice bowl. Somehow, I saw a number of people loitering around looking like waiting for their ‘prey”. So it’s always better to be safe than sorry! 🙂
Now back on the Victoria Falls, as I visited the falls in May, which was the changing season from autumn to winter. The falls will have a huge volume of spray making viewing of the falls from the ground a little difficult. Anyway, due to the large amount of plunging water, aerial viewing of the falls is much better and spectacular.
A must do helicopter ride
So, you have to head to Maramba Airfield and wait for your thrilling introductory flight to the falls. The facilities at the airfield are nice, bathroom was very clean and the small gift shops for you to grab some souvenirs. The helicopters looked very new, modern and safe to me.
When is time for your turn to get into the helicopter, you will pray you can grab a good seat for viewing. As I was sharing the helicopter with another couple and I was the last one who entered the helicopter, I was assigned to the left window seat. It turns out a blessing in disguise! haha 80% of the time, the falls is on the left side of the helicopter, giving me abundant time to take those amazing aerial shots of the Victorial Falls. So, you know the trick now, be the last one to enter the helicopter. Keith’s special tips for readers. haha
I did the 15 minutes flight, which whilst being expensive, it was AWESOME! I flew over parts of the national park, saw some traditional villages below and of course over the falls. That 15 minutes felt like an eternity hanging over the Victoria Falls and absorbing it’s mesmerising beauty! It was SPECTACULAR and simply breath-taking! Wordless, speechless and emotionless, I just keep snapping snapping and snapping, taking many wonderful shots of the fall. It was expensive, but totally worth every penny. I am pretty proud for some of the photos I took at the Victoria Falls though. haha Heaps of rainbows, blue sky, huge amount of waterfall plunging down into the deep valley! What else can I ask for?
Getting near to the Victoria Falls
Besides getting the Ariel shots, walking right to the front of the falls is something I always dream of! As mentioned earlier, due to the high volume of water caused by the local rains. The Zambezi river gathers the huge volume of rain water at the upstream of the falls in Zambia and Angola, the water level rise dramatically to approximately 500 million litres per minute. Although I managed to get very beautiful aerial shots of the falls, the large amount of spray caused by the volume of water, like a continuous downpour, make viewing and photography at the ground almost impossible. As I was there during the changing season in May, I did have some chance in getting few good shots of the fall, BUT at the mercy of mother nature – wind! haha
When the wind blows towards your direction, there is absolutely no chance to see anything or take any pictures. Few minutes later, the wind direction change again, I suggest you quickly take your camera and snap as many as you can cause the wind will come get you soon! haha
The good thing traveling in May is, the starting of winter season, hence the temperature is quite cooling and generally the skies are clear and blue making it really pleasant. With rainbow blending into the falls, make Victoria Falls really, a paradise.
David Livingstone’s Statue
In the middle of nowhere, there is a David Livingstone’s Statue. He was a Scottish medical missionary and an explorer who was the first person to make two important discoveries on the Zambizi river. Dr David Livingstone was the first to realise that the upper section of the river which is the current Zambezi river, and he was the first who discovered the magnificent Victoria Falls, naming them after his British Queen and making them known to the world. David Livingstones’ statue has survived two attempts from having it removed. First was by the veterans of Zimbabwe war of Independence who regarded the statue as a painful history of British colony. Second time was by the Zambian government who wanted the statue moved to Zambia side.
Victoria Falls is considered an Adrenaline Capital of Africa. There are many different adventure activities. From Bungee jumping, white water rafting, river boarding or what I did over the aerial viewing of the falls to the more relaxing activities such as elephant riding safari through the bush and forest to see the wildlife, or the romantic sunset cruise at the Zambezi river to see the river wildlife and the amazing sunset! Which I will cover in a separate post again. 🙂
‘Think of your life as a waterfall; it may come crashing down at some point, it may have it’s ups and downs, but in the end, it will continue to flow.’