The Smoke That Thunders

Victoria Falls Travel Blog

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Okay so only 3 more days before I have to leave this beloved continent, I am soaking up every moment! We traveled from Lusaka Zambia to Livingstone where we spent the night at a beautiful, huge and extremely confusing campsite (also full of monkeys and baboons) called The Waterfront which was right on the Zambezi River in Zambia which leads to the world’s largest waterfalls and one of the seven wonders of the world, Victoria Falls (or The Smoke That Thunders).  That evening eight of us went on a sunset booze cruise (no joke, this is how they advertise it) – where we cruised down the Zambezi, had snacks, open bar and dinner alongside crocodiles and hippos in the river.  Needless to say by the time we got off the boat most people had drunk more than they could handle – this included peeing off the boat, throwing chicken wings overboard and even articles of clothing, and the night got even more ridiculous from there.  Later that evening numerous people could not find their tents among the sea of overland trucks and about 200 tents that all looked the same – this resulted in some members of our truck entering the wrong tents (leading to awkward introductions) and some even tried to get into the tent through its window for almost 20 minutes. 


The next morning I got up bright and early to go micro lighting over Victoria Falls and the Zambezi.  For those who do not know what micro lighting is, it’s a small two person (pilot and passenger) open-air glider that has an engine – if you remember the movie Fly Away Home (the one about the girl who becomes the mother of a flock of Canadian geese), this is what they fly to take the geese south for the winter.  It cost $120 USD for 15 minutes but was absolutely worth it! I flew with a company called Batoka Sky that operates out of the Zambia side of the Falls; they take you up over the Zambezi River where we saw elephants and hippos in the marsh! From there we went south over Victoria Falls, which provides an indescribable view of the falls.  They are absolutely massive and spectacular right now because the water levels are close to their highest of the whole year.  While you cannot take your camera with you because of the likelihood that you will drop it and it might get caught in the engine, there is a camera attached to the wing of the plane and the pilot takes photos throughout the whole trip, and I opted to purchase the CD so there will be photos posted very soon! The weather was perfect on the morning that I did it, not a cloud in the sky, the sun was shining and I was only the 2nd person of the day to be micro lighting! If you have the guts and finances to do this I would highly recommend it! From the air, you can fully appreciate the grandeur and beauty of the falls – the pilot asked me how I would describe the falls if I could: I was speechless. 

Here is an appropriate description of the falls, which I have borrowed from one of the touring company websites:

Columns of spray can be seen from miles away as 546 million cubic meters of water per minute plummet over the edge (at the height of the flood season) over a width of nearly two kilometers into a deep gorge over 100 meters below. The wide basalt cliff, over which the falls thunder, transforms the Zambezi from a wide placid river to a ferocious torrent cutting through a series of dramatic gorges.  Facing the Falls is another sheer wall of basalt, rising to the same height and capped by mist-soaked rain forest. A path along the edge of the forest provides the visitor who is prepared to brave the tremendous spray with an unparalleled series of views of the Falls.


From there, the day continued to get better and better! We crossed the border into Zimbabwe (where Canadians are punished by having to pay $75 for a visa instead of $35 that everyone else pays, lame).  We had to be extra careful to shut all the doors and windows on the truck because the border is over run by baboons and other monkeys that will literally jump at any opportunity to get food/items that appeal to them from your truck.  We witnessed 3 different events where baboons jumped in through an open window to a semi truck and stole the drivers lunches!  After, we stopped at the ATC office to sign up and pay for our activities that we would be doing later during our time in Vic Falls, and then headed to our campsite.  I signed up to go walking with lions at a conservation park where they raise lion cubs, and release them into the wild once they are old enough, where they will have wild cubs that are born free of human contact.  Over the last 20 years the population of lions in Africa has depleted 20-30%, so this organization called ALERT is working to protect those that still remain in Africa, and hopefully increase these numbers.  We had about 2 hours with the lions, first two siblings (a boy and a girl) that were 5 months old but still huge! We were able to pet them and get pictures with them, and then walk with them through the area.  Throughout the experience the guides provide information about lions and their conservation efforts through the activity.  They are such beautiful creatures! They are far from tame (and everyone gets a small stick that is probably supposed to make you feel safer but still, they are lions!) but there are many people from the park that walk with you and distract them/discipline them.  I was just in awe the whole time, it was such a cool experience!


This afternoon I am doing an elephant back safari (stoked!!) and tonight we are celebrating because its our last night as a group, before the group separates and because tomorrow night is the final World Cup game! From there Robin, myself and several others from our truck will travel to Livingstone and Lusaka to fly home on Tuesday; but I’m definitely still in denial.  I cannot believe this day is coming so quickly, I am not ready to go!  Love from Zimbabwe.


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Victoria Falls
photo by: Biedjee