Victoria Falls – Part 1 – Helicopter falls tour and Boat Safari in Chobe, Botswana
After Uganda, I headed to Victoria Falls with a bush flight back to Entebbe, and red-eye jet from Entebbe to Nairobi, and an early morning flight to Livingstone, Zambia.
After an hour of immigration, cab rides, and border crossings, I made it to the “N1” hostel and campground on the Zimbabwe side of the falls. This was more like my normal “backpacking” excursions instead of high luxury, but we did book a private room with its’ own bathroom.
Surrounding the hostel was a tourist mecca.. a “crocodile cage dive place, and elephant ride, a ton of retail shops selling beads, huge wood sculptures, paintings, etc… and a bunch of people trying to sell you Zimbabwean Dollars (defunct since 2009). You may recall that they had a 98% per day inflation rate in 2008, and the largest bills issued was 100 trillion dollars, and couldn’t buy a Snicker’s bar. Now the ATM’s give you US Dollars.
After late flights and being up all night, I decided to take a day to just book some tours, sleep and relax.
The next day I booked a helicopter tour of the falls. Granted, It is low water season right now, so the Zambia side of the falls are basically dry (lower right in this pic), and you can walk to Livingstone island (the trees just above the dry falls and below the wet falls).
The benefit of low water is that you can actually see the falls instead of just a huge plume of water vapor, and Zimbabwe’s Vic Falls park (i’ll do it in 2 days) on the canyon opposite the falls provides some prime viewing without getting completely soaked.
… and had lunch at the very posh and storied Victoria Falls Hotel (with beautiful grounds, and a distant view of the canyon bridge).
The next day I had an early morning, to get to Botswana an hour drive) for a safari in Chobe National Park. The morning safari was a 2 hour boat ride on the Chobe river, and after lunch was a 2 hour game drive – basically looking at the river from the land you were looking at while on the boat.
The first thing that happens as I’m boarding the boat… an American girl in her mid 20’s drops a pair of fancy sunglasses in the water near shore. She hops out, pulls up her dress, and wades into the thigh deep water. She spends a few minutes bent over, feeling for her glasses as everyone urges her to get out of the crocodile infested water. She keeps going, because they were her favorite glasses, but finally listens to reason. We pull out 2 minutes later to find a big croc about 50 yards away, swimming toward the spot where she was making a commotion.
In this pic, she had literally just hopped into the water between the boats – before anyone on her boat noticed.
The highlight was 50+ elephants coming out of the very dry woods to eat vegetation and swim in the river, but there were lots of other animals.
Some of the elephants (you couldn’t get them all in one pic).
Hippos grazing on the island, and in the water…
Cape Buffalo on the island.
Crocodile on the island.
Zebra during the game drive.
Antelope and Gazelle on the game drive.
African Fish Eagle – looks kind of like a bald eagle
Getting an appetite from the safari, I ate at a place called “Carnivore” in Vic Falls and had a Zebra Burger (gamey beef). The next day I had Crocodile Wraps (taste like chicken, but better).