Saturday, January 23, 2016

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe: The View From Here and Deadly Rafting

The next day, we crossed the border from Zambia to Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls from the other side!

What It's All About:
The actual name of the city in Zimbabwe (or "Zim," for short) that borders Victoria Falls is Victoria Falls. #selfexplanatory  It's a little newer than its counterpart city, Livingstone, in Zambia - whereas Livingstone was its own functioning town before tourism came and drove it to become a tourist town, Victoria Falls developed because of the tourism to the falls.  It's definitely a little pricier than Zambia (the first night, I paid almost $20 for a hostel dorm bed that was a million degrees with no windows or fans or A/C), but also has its own special charm. And it's much closer to the falls - easy access!

Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwean side has more stunning overlooks onto the falls - seriously, there were 20 separate photo opportunities and they were all breathtaking. You can really see the scope and breadth of the falls from this side; and there's an awesome overlook called Danger Point (creative; I like it) where you can wander an unfenced portion of the cliffs and look 100m down to the canyons below.

The view over the Falls from Danger Point!

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • Spent the early afternoon after our border crossing wandering the various paths and overlooks on the Zim side of Victoria Falls. 

Welcome to the Zim side!  Which was definitely a little more put-together compared to the Zam side.

Yep, still baboons running amok

The first overlook! The spray is so crazy that there's a fine mist that swirls around everywhere = amazing when it's super hot

One of the big waterfalls! #descriptive

Me and Jesse and waterfalls. The waterfalls are in Zambia and we're in Zimbabwe. Cray.

Believe it or not, this year has been especially dry so the waterfalls are not nearly as ginormous or crazy as they usually are. Which is insane. Because look.

Look at how much mist!  Apparently if you come in high/rainy season, you need to wear a raincoat because you'll get completely soaked.

Looking down the canyon at all the falls - complete with rainbowwwwww!  Seriously, you'd look up and down both sides of the canyon and all you'd see where more and more waterfalls. So. many. waterfalls.

This area is called Rainbow Falls, where the guardrails suddenly disappear and there's a huge stretch where you're standing on rocks right next to the canyon. Terrifying. I may have had a paranoid thought that randos could just come up to you and push you in if they wanted to, so I was a little jittery whenever anyone walked by us


Jesse and a pano shot of the canyon and waterfalls

  • Seeing the Falls from the other side was completely stunning - every viewpoint was like a postcard, and it just makes you completely in awe of nature.
  • Later that evening, Jesse and I went on a booze cruise/combo boat safari that a guy at our hostel had recommended.  For two hours, you get unlimited drinks (Jesse's biggest draw), see the sunset and tons of animals (my biggest draw), and cruise down the Zambezi River (which is the river that feeds Victoria Falls).  I don't know who I'm kidding, because the unlimited vodka was the besttt (and I guess the animals were nice too). =)

Pre-sunset cruise down the Zambezi River

This is kind of hard to see, but there's an elephant on the banks!  Eeeeeee

And then we came across a big group of hippos!  The other boat got a little to close for the hippos' comfort, so one of them is opening his mouth and roaring, which is a sign of aggression.  GET AFTER IT, HIPPO

The sun goes down (the stars come out)

A warthog.

I don't know why, but all I can imagine is this hippo going "....merp?"

More gorg sunset views. How much prettiness can one day have.

Boat pulling back to shore after numerous vodkas were had

  • The next day, Jesse and I had planned on moving on from Zimbabwe down to Botswana by bus. However, Jesse was on a fried chicken run the night before and had met a guy named Kelly - he's from Botswana but is studying in university in New Zealand. He was visiting Victoria Falls with his girlfriend from NZ, as well as his sister, who is still attending high school in Botswana. They had room in their car and offered us a ride to Botswana with them - but they weren't leaving until the day after, so Jesse and I had a free day in Zimbabwe. 
  • One of the most popular things to do in this area is to raft down the Zambezi River (in the canyon that Victoria Falls thunders into).  It's known to be one of the best spots in the world to whitewater raft, as the rapids are known to be totally crazy, with tons of Class V rapids (equals insane and terrifying) - sounds right up our alley, but the cost was holding us back a little (Africa is expensive, y'all!).  But knowing we had an extra day was all we needed for me to go negotiate hard at a rafting company and sign up to go the next day!

This is the only photo Jesse and I took before rafting, because we refused to pay $50 for the rafting photo package.
Honestly, though, the rafting was INSANE.  I've never been rafting like this before.

This is a photo I stole off the internet of actual Victoria Falls rafting. And it's what I basically felt like for most of the trip.  There were 19 rapids we went through, several Class V, and for two of them (I was in the front), I was thrown completely out of the raft into the water. Like, there was no human way I could have held on and stayed in the raft. 

  • Not helping the situation was the fact that our raft was extra-light because there were only five of us, and that the other three people in the raft consisted of a Chinese dad and his two sons, who 1.) could not distinguish between the guide yelling "FORWARD" or "STOP", 2.) were the most useless rowers ever (like stirring a pot of soup), and 3.) would throw their paddles to the side and death grip on the safety rope anytime we were near any rapids at all, even if the guide was screaming at us to row harder to get out of the rapids.
  • The second time I was thrown into the rapids was on Rapid #7, a Class V rapid called Gulliver's Travels - apparently I flew out of the raft, knocked Jesse on my way out into the water (where he was then washed into a whirlpool and almost drowned), and as I was being kicked around in the water, the entire raft went over my head and I was underwater for a very long time before being able to surface. When I did finally get back to the raft, it turns out 4 of us were thrown in during that rapid (including the guide-in-training), and there were only 2 people left in the raft at all.  
  • Rafting was incredible. My adrenaline went through the roof and I'm pretty sure I spent 90% of the time praying that I wouldn't fall out on the next set of rapids. I don't know why people pay to have the living daylights scared out of them, but it was overall a ton of fun, and I'm so happy we added it to our itinerary. 

One the way back from rafting; 3 totally useless rowers in the row behind us (not that I totally think it was their fault I almost died a bunch of times or anything.....)

Fun Facts of the Day:
  • Zimbabwe uses U.S. Dollars as its currency!  Makes everything so easyy
  • There was a Grade VI rapid on our journey, which we had to go out and walk past because going through it would apparently mean imminent death. I regret calling my Nepal rafting "The River Wild" now. THIS WAS THE RIVER WILD.
  • I took a photo of an alligator on our booze cruise, whose photo didn't make the blog because it looks like I was taking photos of a rock.
  • Zimbabwe's president, Mugabe, is the world's oldest still living head of state in office. He's 91. 92 in a month.
  • This is former Rhodesia, aka where Leonardo DiCaprio was from in "Blood Diamond."

Meal of the Day:
You know, just some African game meat - which was delicious, obvs.
Top dish is an impala steak; bottom dish is crocodile pesto pasta (tastes like chicken!)


  1. Girl, you are SO brave to go on that rafting trip! I was scared just reading your description. Glad you made it. :) Also, I got to thinking after you said that Zimbabwe uses the U.S. dollar - in a future post (maybe toward the end of your journey?), could you talk a little about how you handled currency exchange and other logistics, like customs? I imagine the processes are different in each country, and I just like learning about stuff like that because that's what I sweat when I travel internationally. :) Loving all of your Africa posts! XOXO

    1. Haha thanks Megs! Could have been helpful that I didn't read a description of the rafting before I signed myself up for it.....

      Yes! I would be more than happy to post about how I've been handling the different currencies in each country! I am definitely planning more "Travel tips" posts to come soon, courtesy of you =)

      As a quick preview, 99% of the time I just use my ATM card to take out money as soon as I arrive in a new country - it's a Visa so it works everywhere (as long as you phone your bank beforehand to tell them where you'll be!).

      xo thanks for the inspiration and for following along!

  2. The sun goes down (the stars come out) :) This is why I love you! Totes jamming to this today.

    1. HAHA I am amazed you caught that reference! 10 points for Gryffindor.

      Love you!! Thanks for reading the blog and miss your face!