We woke up this morning to another beautiful day. Although it was a little chilly in the morning, the high for the day was supposed to be 83F, which Is very comfortable, especially with no humidity. Mike, our local guide, picked us up and took us to to the Falls, about a five minute drive away. We were given long raincoats and a little talk about the Falls. The water that feeds the Falls is spring water from natural wells, but after the good rainy season, which ended in March, the water was very high, causing a very heavy mist that you can see for miles.
Karen, who is one of our group, was here 15 years ago, in November, in the dry season before the rains, so this experience was quite different for her. There was less water, but less drama, too. I put my iPad in a big ZipLok bag, to protect it from the moisture, which worked out very well.
Although my shots aren’t as crisp as I would have liked, I think they depicted the essence of the Falls and surrounding rainforest. There are 16 viewing stations in total, with the last one being the bridge to Zambia, on the other side of the Falls. We are on the Zimbabwe side.
The force and power of the water is more than impressive, even though it is the third highest drop, with Niagara, between the US and Canada and Iguasu, between Brazil and Argentina ranked as one and two. The Zambezi River starts above Mozambique and ultimately spills into the Indian Ocean. Despite its long length, it is only the fourth longest river in Africa. The first three are the Nile, Congo and Niger Rivers. Discovered by Dr. David Livingstone, there is a huge statue of him at the entrance to the Victoria Falls National Park. You may remember hearing, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume,” when a British search party was looking for him. They are one in the same.
We walked to the 13th (out of 16) viewing area, but couldn’t get any further, as the mist and the slippery walkways posed potential problems. At many of the viewing stops, the mist presented itself as rain, not hard, but constant. In other places it was just a gentle mist. Good thing we had the jackets, which were long and hooded. We still got pretty wet. Well worth it
Returning to the Lodge, we had lunch and at an excellent seat overlooking the watering hole to witness the daily 1:00PM vulture feeding. There are at least four kinds of vultures and Maribou storks awaiting the raw meat provided by the Lodge staff. Just before 1:00, the birds started gathering, flying by the hundreds overhead, sitting patiently in the open area by the water and in the trees. I guess their alarm went off! They are so well trained that when the man removing the meat from the cooler wasn’t moving fast enough for them, the man turned to them as if to say, “Cool it!” They did! In another few minutes, it was an amazing feeding frenzy.
After the fowl settled down, presumably satiated, we went to Karen’s room for cocktails. This is her 19th Smartours trip, so she got a super deluxe room, a two story affair with two baths, champagne, wine and more. Four more on our trip joined us. From Karen’s balcony, we could see three elephants millimg around the watering hole, along with a herd of impalas., prior to going on our evening game drive and bush dinner.
We were picked up in a big bush nine passenger vehicle and headed to the private game preserve, which is about 3,200 square kilometers. It was a very successful drive (safari?)
because we saw Impalas, Cape Buffaloes, Elands and Sables (both a type of antelopes), Plains Zebras, Baboons, Black Rhinos and a bunny! We didn’t see lions, cheetahs or leopards, but may in future safaris, seven more to come. Cedric, our guide was very knowledgeable, about animals, trees/foliage and even stars/constellations.
We stopped at a man made dam and reservoir to benefit the animals, for a cocktail break at sunset before going to our bush dinner. Expecting a camp meal, it was far from that. We had a very nice meal of grilled meats, a variety of sides, salad and dessert, all in the preserve. It was another long, but fascinating day.
Tomorrow morning, we were supposed to walk with lions, departing at 6:00AM, but decided to beg off the experience, particularly since we are leaving at 10:30AM for Chobe National Park, about 70km away, for two nights and four more safaris. Lots of pictures…