End of Kumuka tour

Victoria Falls Travel Blog

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Nala (the lioness) and I; Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

I’ve decided Zimbabwe is a good country to go to if you feel like turning mildly insane. If I could use one word to describe it, that word would be slow. Everything is slow here. But it’s a cheap place to stop between activities.


The Kumuka tour is finished now, which is bittersweet. On the one hand, I like doing what I feel like doing, rather than what someone’s organised for me. On the other hand, I’ve met some really cool people on this trip who I will miss a lot.


Yesterday I walked around the Vic Falls.

Lioness; Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
It’s really beautiful. Apparently it’s not the wet season, so there isn’t much water, but in a way that’s a good thing because it means I won’t get drenched by the mist and spray as much, and it’s safe to walk right to the edge of Danger Point and look over the edge.


Some of you know I visited Niagara Falls last year – it’s difficult not to compare the two falls. Niagara seems more impressive in terms of sheer volume (although that could be because it isn’t the wet season yet). Niagara Falls looks like a clean sheet of water and it’s awesome because it’s so immense. Victoria Falls is spectacular in a different way. It’s just really beautiful; more beautiful than Niagara, I would say. My favourite look out point has a block you can stand on to look down into the falls.

Me at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
All you can see and feel when you look down is mist; it’s great.


Walking around the falls is pleasant. Firstly, the air isn’t so dry next to the falls, and the spray cools you down. Secondly, there’s a lot of vegetation along the top of the falls, which gives it a lovely jungle-like atmosphere.


This morning I explored the falls on horseback. Game watching on horseback allows you to get a lot closer to the animals than you would in a vehicle, and because the animals can smell and see horse mostly, they don’t act skittish or weird; they just behave like they would usually. We saw a lot of animals we hadn’t seen on the trip yet: waterbuck, bushbuck, larger monitors, etc. We’d seen the rest of the animals (impala, warthogs and more), but it was cool to see them again from a different vantage point (on horseback).

Dougie and I standing at the edge of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (those are horse riding helmets we're hiding behind us)
We wandered upstream a bit, and eventually dismounted and walked to the edge of the falls. We were pretty close to the edge; it was awesome!


Yesterday I walked around town. I’d meant to have a rest in the afternoon but I got bored at the backpacker’s so I went walking. I don’t know why, but it seems like every local here has two main things on their agenda: one, to sell stuff; and two, to get married. It’s really quite funny. It seems like once the locals figure out you’re not buying anything, their next question is “What about an African boyfriend?” Sometimes I think it would be funny to see their reaction if we said “Okay”. Ha! (Not happening.)


The markets were interesting – I was hassled a lot, but sometimes I turned the hassling into a conversation.

I had to post this photo... it's so funny! Sorry, Pip!
Once it led to someone showing me how they carve wood, and that was pretty interesting to see, since I don’t know anything about carving. It’s been interesting talking to the locals, even if just briefly.


Also, I met the guy that runs the backpacker’s I’m staying at now. He’s Zimbabwean, but he has a really strong English accent. He sounds a lot like the boys from school. Apparently he’s lived in London on and off for the past eight years. It was good to chat to him because he’s told me that if he hears of any tour trucks (like the one I just hopped off) heading in the direction I want to go (Maun), he’ll let me know. Apparently, it’d be cheaper than getting an expensive transfer to the kosin-something-or-another border and then taxi to Kasane, then a bus to Nata, then a bus to Maun (which is my most feasible option right now). Anyway, I have heaps of time to figure that out, so I’ll see what comes up.

Fernando and me at Shoestrings Backpacker's, Zimbabwe


I haven’t been over to Zambia yet, but I might go for a day once when everyone from the tour has gone home. A few people are continuing on the tour to Nairobi (Kenya) and are staying here ‘til Monday. I’m trying to savour the time I have with them before I go to Zambia.


Apparently day visas to Zambia are available for US$10, which isn’t too expensive.

Glenn, Pip and Karl at Shoestrings Backpacker's, Zimbabwe
I have a tight budget at the moment, though. Speaking of money, the hardest thing to deal with in Zimbabwe is money. You can’t get it out of ATMs and banks because the official exchange rate is completely crap compared to the unofficial one (which everyone goes by – you’d be stupid if you didn’t); it’s a huge difference. I changed my US money to Zim dollars at US$1 to Z$1500; but the rate at hotels and banks is about US$1 to Z$250. Like I said, it’s a huge difference.


Either way, it’s cheaper for me to stay here than it is to stay in Maun (in Botswana, where I’ll be meeting the Earthwatch crew). Also, it’s nice to be able to rest and chill for a while. And there’s a fair bit to do here – I keep walking past an aquarium that looks all right. I must have seen more aquariums than anyone else on this planet but I’ve heard this one has good freshwater exhibits...


There’s a lot to do here, but I’m trying to be careful not to throw all my money into adrenaline activities. I’ve done two activities, though neither included bungee cords or rafts: I did a lion walk (sorry, mum) and a horse ride, which I’ve told you about already.


The lion walk was really, really cool. When else can you go for a walk with a lion, like you would with a dog? It was just so cool to be around them... they were real African lions! We walked with two lionesses and one lion. The two girls were about 12 months old, and the boy (called Amanzi) was about 10 months old. He was adorable. His mane hadn’t grown out yet, but he did have a very fuzzy neck. Even though all three were still considered cubs, they were pretty big. Their paws were massive! It was incredible how much we were allowed to interact with them. We were allowed to touch them, walk behind them, and even hold their tails! A few of us ended up giving their carers our email addresses so they could contact us about volunteering!


The last thing I should mention is the backpacker’s I’m staying at. Everyone who was on the Kumuka tour is complaining about it! It’s pretty grotty, but it could be worse. I mentioned earlier that there’s a pool, although you’d have to be pretty game to swim in it, since it’s bright green. None of the doors lock, which isn’t great for our valuables, but they have lockers, luckily, so I guess it doesn’t matter too much. Also, it’s a dodgy walk from town if you’re walking back on your own. It’s fine in a group, but Fernando has told me not to walk home alone at night already. Also, our room is right behind the bar, which means the noise is incredible at night! The others have had trouble sleeping, but I’ve been falling asleep straight away – maybe because I’ve stayed at university accommodation before and therefore have had experience with falling asleep with parties outside my door; I don’t know. We were joking that brushing our teeth before going to bed is like brushing our teeth in a pub. People have suggested moving to another backpacker’s but I don’t know if I can be bothered. I feel like all backpacker’s hostels are like this. And I haven’t had trouble sleeping, so I don’t know if I can be bothered carrying my bags somewhere else. Actually, the most annoying thing about the backpacker’s was that last night there was a mosquito that kept biting me, but I don’t really think that’s the hostel’s fault!


Oh, and we got our trip t-shirts made. They turned out cool. I did the designing (I imagine those of you in Australia who know me fairly well are rolling your eyes, since this is about the fifth t-shirt I’ve designed in the past year... I seem to have a bit of a monopoly going on)! But everybody else made an input too, and the t-shirt guy suggested putting flags on the sleeve, which gave it a nice extra touch.


I think that’s all I have to report about Zimbabwe so far. It’s a beautiful country. As soon as we crossed the border into Zimbabwe, the scenery became greener and more hilly, and the trees in the distance turned blue-green. Sorry about the long post; this is the first time I haven’t been using the Internet in a frantic rush! I’m hoping to burn my photos onto CD soon and put some up on this blog, but no promises. If you’re desperate, I uploaded some to Facebook when I was in Swakopmund.

X_Drive says:
I would love to able to see Vicoria Falls. But I have no desire to be that close to a lion. That sure is a good picture of you and nala.
Posted on: Nov 29, 2006
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Nala (the lioness) and I; Victoria…
Nala (the lioness) and I; Victori…
Lioness; Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Lioness; Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Me at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Me at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Dougie and I standing at the edge …
Dougie and I standing at the edge…
I had to post this photo... its s…
I had to post this photo... it's …
Fernando and me at Shoestrings Bac…
Fernando and me at Shoestrings Ba…
Glenn, Pip and Karl at Shoestrings…
Glenn, Pip and Karl at Shoestring…
Victoria Falls
photo by: Biedjee