Monday, January 25, 2010

Victoria Falls!

I got attacked by a crocodile. No really.

But let's start at the beginning...

We took a two night trip to Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, a stay we won in an auction in September that benefited the Tswhane Place of Safety. Vacation + charitable giving? Heck yes.

Prior to the trip, I asked if we could be upgraded and was informed that yes, our standard room would be upgraded to a deluxe room. Score.

We get to the airport with plenty of time, only to find that Will's carry-on suitcase is overweight. We were carrying on as there was no need to pack a suitcase for a two night trip plus things get lost in African airports. Its just fact. I travel frequently (I'm in Zambia right now!) and I have never been turned away because my suitcase was too heavy. Hassled? Yes. Questioned? Yes. But told to check my bag because it was 5kg too heavy? NEVER.

We were not happy to get this news.

Nevertheless, we did a quick rearrange of luggage (tip: always pack some of your clothes in your companions suitcase in case your stuff gets lost!), checked, and received our 1st row seats. We breezed through security and on into the international terminal where we decided to use our diplomatic status to purchase champagne to bring with us to Zim. Good idea, Nagli.

Let me stop here and just say how ecstatic I was to finally be traveling with someone, but most of all, to be traveling with hubby. It seems I am so often alone when I travel and its nice to have someone to talk to, someone to help, someone to laugh with... oh gosh, I can't even begin to relate how excited I was to be on holiday with Will! Yay!

The flight went off without a hitch, complete with the nicest flight attendant ever. We had tons of leg room and an entire row to ourselves. Heck yes for comfort! We get off the plane, breeze through customs, get our luggage, get transported to the hotel, and check in.

Then we get to our room.

Forgive me: the Kudu Suite.

We open the door. Our deluxe room turned out to be a 2 story suite, complete with private balcony overlooking the waterhole, 1.5 bathrooms, massive jacuzzi tub, and king bed. Wow. I must have been a good girl this year! We were completely and utterly stunned by the awesome room - it even came with sunscreen and bug repellent!

Artistic shot of our bedroom upstairs in the Kudu Suite

We took lunch at the bar overlooking the waterhole and then next thing we were off!

Activity 1: The Helicopter

Wow. May I say, wow? I didn't even have time to be scared. Seriously. We ran to the copter, got buckled in, and no sooner could you say "Victoria Falls!" we were off! Straight up into the air - how fun! I can't even begin to tell you how fun it was and how amazing the views were. I would definitely do it again! Only pictures can tell the true story...

Activity 2: The Sunset Cruise
You really can't find much to complain about when it comes to a sunset cruise on the Zambezi, complete with hippo sightings. Unless you like to complain about Zimbabwean vodka. Or the lack of any other beverage option beside Fanta Orange and coke. Or the Zimbabwean singers performing a horrificly offkey version of a traditional song. But it was fun, we took great pictures, and it was nice to be on the water.

Activity 3: Morning Safari
If I had never been on another safari in my life, I would have been horribly disappointed by this. Luckily, its not my only shot to see game! We woke up at 5:00am (TOO EARLY) and realized it was raining for our safari. BOO. We were only 4 people on the safari, but seriously, we didn't see much - impala, warthog, buffalo, elephant, eland, giraffe, zebra, birds. Breakfast was included, which was good, but all in all, I'll stick to safaris in South Africa or on the Zambian side of the falls.

*insert 4 hour nap here*

Activity 4: Wine route canoe ride on the Zambezi
I don't know why they call this the wine route canoe ride, but they do. I'm guessing its because you can drink while someone else paddles you down the Zambezi. Regardless, words again can't express how special this experience was to me and Will.

Going down the Zambezi by canoe is incredibly quiet and relaxing. Sooner or later, I'll post a video here to share the sounds we heard that day. We saw baby crocs, hippos, even vervet monkeys. At one point, our guides gave us a break on this beautifully white sandy beach. We took pictures, watched an elephant on an island (yes, he swam to get there!!!), and then played peek-a-boo with the hippos that were clearly irritated that we were visiting their hood. All of this while the sun was going down.

Special? Absolutely.

As we neared the edge of the falls with the great smoke in the distance, Will's boat bumped my boat, as it had done several times that afternoon when he wanted to get a new beverage. Or so I thought...

I then heard the guide start shouting behind me. As I turned around, there it was:


I turned around just in time to see him right next to the boat and then SMACK! The guide dropped his paddle as hard as he could right between the croc's eyes. As he paddled away, the croc just looked stunned at the turn of events and he left us alone.

Somehow I was calm through all of this. I said, "I bet this happens all the time!" The guide says, "This has NEVER happened before!!!"

I guess we're lucky. A story for the grandkids.

That night, we dined in the hotel restaurant. I had crocodile curry in honor of my croc.

Activity 5: Victoria Falls National Park
$40 for the two of us to get into the park? And we only have one hour to see it? Moly. But we did it and get some awesome shots in the process.

I've heard the Zim side of the falls is much better than the Zambia side. I wouldn't say it was better - but I would say its different. You see a completely different section of the falls, including the Devil's Cataract, which can't be seen from Zambia. It was actually incredibly difficult to see because of the mist/smoke from the falls. Regardless, it was really incredible. Its a huge park so we definitely got a work out when we had to run back from the falls to our waiting hotel shuttle...

Vic Falls will also be the place where I will forever recall Will being called out to as "Papa" by someone wanting him to buy a parka! ha!

We get to the airport and check in, only to find out they've given our front row seats away. Don't get me started. As soon as we get on the plane, we realize we are in the absolute worst seats on the plane - seats that don't recline and have extra wide arm rests that won't move. I quickly complain to the flight attendant that I had reserved my seats but they were given away and I'm a silver SAA member. She says she doesn't think the flight will be full and we can change. As we start to settle into our reality of the seats, we're asked by the flight attendant to come to the front. We do. Turns out the lady checked in two men who don't speak any English into our seats... and since its an exit row, they can't sit there! God smiled upon us again!!! So in the end, we got the seats we reserved in the first place and again enjoyed plenty of leg room on the 2 hour flight back.

The only bummer on the whole trip is that most of my pictures didn't turn out (but all of Will's did - yay!). We got an awesome new digital camera for Christmas (thanks mom and dad!) but I guess I had it on some strange setting. Most of the pictures are grainy. Worse, the camera wouldn't take pictures quickly so even though I thought quickly enough to take a pic of the croc, the camera didn't agree. BOO. Will is looking into it and we should fix the settings before Mom and Dad arrive in March.

All in all, it was an incredibly fantastic romantic trip filled with the great outdoors and lots of fun on the river! I highly recommend Victoria Falls on the Zim side!


Parag said...

I must say that you has an excellent trip to Zambia.Getting smashed y a croc is never a worthy experience bu you were lucky to survive.
victoria falls zambia

Mbini said...


Seems you have a great time in SA. I hope you do. Thanks for the Tshwane Place of safety link.

I have to contact them for some interview, awareness or fund raising.

Thanks again,
Pretoria, SA