Falling for Victoria
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Bald heads in the distance wait to make their move. Closer, closer. The dark spots eye out the ground below. They know what’s coming.
They start arriving and settling in the trees around the vulture restaurant at midday, and then, an hour later, they swoop.
Everybody wants a piece of the action. A couple of marabou storks want in as well. Frenzy. Feathers fly. Vultures chow down. And then silence. The carnivore luncheon. The marabous stick around for any scraps that might have been missed, the vultures simply up and leave. They know to arrive back tomorrow, same place, same time.
At 1pm daily the raptors charge down from the trees giving visitors what has to be the show of the day.
It is part of the Vulture Conservation project run by the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge and is a sight to behold.
Visitors to the lodge get to enjoy the spectacle from a specially built hideout where they can get a close-up from the deck of the magnificent lodge with its sunset-facing views over the bushveld and a wildlife-rich waterhole.
Built of thatch and timber, the hotel rises seven levels, giving the impression of a vast open-plan treehouse right in the Zambezi National Park.
After a lovely night at the hotel in the beautifully appointed rooms, we headed down to the jetty for a cruise along the Zambezi. Welcomed on board the Zambezi Royal with a glass of bubbly, we were in for a treat.
For two hours we were treated with unparalleled views of the wildlife and nature from the middle of the river. Hippo eyed us suspiciously, their ears twitching as they watched us glide on by, while others treated us to a fantastic yawning display. A family of elephants walked trunk-to-tail, cruising the river to get to the other side, often stopping for a dally in the cool water.
That golden hour just after sunrise and just before sunset is a beauty to behold, and on an African cruise is something magnificent. It’s quiet, peaceful. One of those moments when you’re just glad to be there. In that moment.
As the light began to fade and the pink champagne sunset enveloped us, we all stood quiet, lost in thought as we watched the sun setting below the horizon. A perfect way to celebrate the setting African sun.
The only sounds then were the animal calls and the rumble of the Victoria Falls a few kilometres away. We left the boat happy, satisfied.
In direct contrast to the tranquillity of the Zambezi, before you are even close to it, you see it and hear it.
Standing at 108m tall and more than 1 700m wide, the size and power of the mighty Victoria Falls will take your breath away.
Straddling two countries (Zimbabwe and Zambia), Victoria Falls has long been a bucket list item for adventurers and travellers alike. Before you see the massive wall of water with your eyes, you won’t know what to expect. It’s just something else.
As we entered the park, a fine mist gently coated my skin and clothes. As we got closer to the falls, we were hit with the spray from the immense volume of water that drops over the craggy rocks of the Victoria Falls.
Africa has no shortage of incredible feats of nature, but few people are ever really prepared for the beauty and mesmerising strength and power of “the smoke that thunders”.
After a two-hour walk in the lush rainforest that has sprung up around the falls, we left the park, soaked but exhilarated to have been able to experience the natural wonder.
So much to see, so little time. Next we were off to The Boma - Dinner and Drum extravaganza, on the Victoria Falls Lodge estate.
Dressed in chitenges (traditional robes), we sampled traditional beer, drummed the night away and got down and boogied, all between eating the most delicious food.
Every so often I have a travel experience that sticks in my head. It’s an experience and a set of memories that makes me beam spontaneously; it has to be my first sight of Victoria Falls that has lodged itself permanently into my memory.
The spectacular explosion of froth and spray, the thunder, the rainbows of colour makes the world wonder something to behold.
And I imagine like the thousands of adventurers, explorers and tourists before me, falling for Victoria Falls is too easy.