Revered as one of the natural world’s great spectacles, the raw power of the mighty Zambezi River plunging 108m into the mighty Victoria Falls has spawned awe and legends for centuries.
The untamed energy of the waterfall once compelled people living in the area to sacrifice jewellery to the river to appease it. These days the only valuables that you’re likely to see cast into the Zambezi are anything careless bungee jumpers may have left in their pockets. But the folklore around the spectacular cataract is just one of the many drawcards of this destination, along with renowned hospitality and activities to cater to every taste.
The area has the nickname “The Boulevard of Zs” because it’s the part of the Zambezi River where zebra’s drink and Zambia and Zimbabwe meet. You’ll see much more than striped horses though: Desmond O’Connor, British Airways operated by Comair’s executive for revenue offers the following suggestions for getting the most from a visit to Mosi-oa-Tunya – The Smoke That Thunders:
Take a river cruise: It’s a must-do to take one of the many sunset cruises offered on the stretch of river above the falls. There’s a good reason: on this beautiful stretch of river, it’s common to see herds of elephants of all ages drinking and bathing. You can watch five generations of pachyderms – from long-tusked elders to fuzzy-headed youngsters. If you’re lucky you’ll be close enough to be able to hear their splashing and distinctive, deep-bass rumbling while you sip a drink and enjoy snacks. Some cruises offer supper onboard.
My recommendation is a Sunset Cruise on Pure Africa’s Zambezi Explorer followed by dinner at The Eatery at the Pure Africa Waterfront. Read about it here: Pure Africa bringing sophistication to Victoria Falls.
Tackle the wild waters: The white-water rafting on the Zambezi has been described as the most exciting in the world and remains a drawcard for visitors looking for a once-off burst of adrenalin, as well as lifelong devotees to adventure sports. Excursions range from a morning in the waters of the Batoka Gorge to multi-day trips that combine game viewing and camping with braving the Zambezi.
Step off the edge: A number of operators offer a variety of adventure sports, including bridge swings, bungee jumps and zip-wire slides. All take full advantage of the chasm carved by the river and allow for stomach-swooping fun with a strong emphasis on safety. An option that’s less intense than the free fall of a 111-metre bungee jump is the Flying Fox, where you slide along a zipline in a horizontal position, and as the name suggests, it feels a little like flying.
Get elevated in a forest: The mists of the falls have helped nurture the lush Batoka Forest with dense, hardwood riverine vegetation that’s a haven for a bounty of wildlife. The Vic Falls Canopy Tour offers a network of zipline slides, trails and rope-bridge walkways. You’ll be accompanied by guides and can expect to see a variety of animals including Peregrine Falcons, Knysna Louries, Vervet monkeys and small antelope and primates.
Indulge in a bit of luxury: The Victoria Falls Hotel prides itself on offering style, glamour and sophistication in a breath-taking natural setting. It offers several restaurants and bars from the signature Livingstone Room to the thatched, outdoor Jungle Junction, the nickname flying boat passengers gave the stopover 68 years before. The hotel has relaxed its dress code since then but retains some of the dress-for-dinner styles of yesteryear.
Catch the Moonbow: The falls can send mist up to 800 meters in the air, which can be seen from up to 50 kilometres away. You might see multiple rainbows, a mesmerising dance of colour in the sky. If you’re fortunate enough to visit the falls at full moon, there may be a moonbow, a rainbow lit by the full moon: unforgettable.
The Future Is, Supporting Local
In the area that surrounds Victoria Falls, an incredible team is working to develop, train and support the outlying rural communities. I spent a generous amount of time with Charlene Hewat of the Greenline Africa Trust who introduced me to Victoria Falls Recycling, the heart-lifting Dibutibu School, the Dibu Community Centre which specialises in craft and embroidery projects and to gorgeous Rosie, one of the farmers in the area who’s nurturing a thriving fruit and veg business. Also, the Buffalo Bicycles which distributes bikes to students who live far from their school. To learn more about Greenline Africa and their volunteer project, or to visit them while you’re in the area, take a look at the Greenline Africa Trust.
Getting There, The Essential Details
British Airways, operated by Comair, is offering daily flights to Victoria Falls and offering some once-in-a-lifetime packages, meaning that there’s never been a better time to turn a bucket-list fantasy into reality. Look out for their Two-night packages, including flights, transfers, accommodation and breakfast are available from R5 476 per person sharing. Return flights, without transfers and accommodation, start from R2 990. To book call 011 921 0222, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.kulula.com.