We knew we wanted to have another adventure before we left Africa…but we had no idea where we wanted to go! On our list was the desert in Namibia, a horseback safari through the Okavango Delta in Botswana, camp with the lemurs in Madagascar, hit up the beaches of Mozambique, go on safari in Kenya….the list kept going, going, going. Not easy to figure out when we were both very indecisive.
When trying to decide where to go we ask ourselves these questions:
- Can we get there easily and affordably?
- Do we BOTH want to go?
- Would we come back and do it later?
- Will we regret not going now?
- Do we have enough information to plan it on short notice?
- Can we book affordable/chic/hospitable accommodations?
- Do we know anyone there or have access to local knowledge?
We eventually decided on Victoria Falls because it ticked a lot of our above list.
And we’re glad we did!
But I must admit we weren’t sure if we choose correctly. Let me explain…
Zimbabwe and Zambia are more of the real Africa, and Cape Town is more westernized than most of Africa. It was quite a culture shock driving from the Vic Falls airport (which is a really nice airport) to our hotel because the country is extremely rural and segregated by tourists and locals.
After arriving that afternoon, we walked across the border to Zambia to enjoy a sundowner (sunset drink) at the Royal Livingstone hotel. Sadly, we were hassled the entire walk by men trying to sell us trinkets, not taking NO very well, and then wanting money for no reason. It was a far cry from what we were used to in South Africa, and we weren’t prepared for it.
The border crossings felt really unwelcoming, and we were feeling wary.
Why did we come here?
As we watched the sunset over Vic Falls we talked about whether or not this 4 day excursion was going to be worth the hefty price tag that it came with (approximately $2500 for 4 days including flights, accommodations, excursions and meals)…and we decided...probably not.
We predicted it was not worth it and sadly a big mistake.
I’m happy to report that we were TOTALLY WRONG.
It was worth it. One million times worth it.
Because of the amazing adventures and the people we met along the way.
We stayed at Lorrie’s Guest House, and were thrilled to meet Lorrie, Clive and George. They make the place truly special, and it didn’t hurt that they had 4 fun loving dogs roaming around the grounds to play with!
Anytime you have animals on the property, that’s a big plus in my book. Look at Jojo waiting for Derek to throw this ratty old tire that never left her mouth! She worshiped Derek and would wait outside our door every morning.
Lorrie is a local and knows everyone and everything about the area. She planned all our excursions…from what guide to use, what taxi driver to take us and in what order to do our excursions to make the most of our trip. Here's a list of the adventure companies Lorrie booked for us, and we would recommend all of them!
1. Horseback riding – Zambezi Horse Trails
2. Whitewater Rafting – Wild Horizons
3. Angel’s Pool- Tongabezi
4. Helicopter – Bonisair
5. Sunset & Dinner Cruise – Zambezi Reflections
We white water rafted the Zambizi River, which alone is a big deal. Some say it’s the best rapids in the world.
What you don’t get told is that you have to climb/crawl/hike down the gorge….and even better…up the gorge when it’s all over.
If you’ve read our blogs you know I don’t love hiking, so this climb/crawl/hike came as a complete surprise to me and I had a few panic attacks along the way. However, what I loved the most about this adventure was looking back and knowing that I did it. I did it really damn well with only one small injury (sprained toe) and a few tears.
We went on a horseback riding safari at sunrise. Epic. We’ve seen the big 5, so that didn’t wow us as much anymore, but being on horses amidst nature like that is out of this world. We loved every minute of it! It was even more fun because it was Derek’s first horseback ride (unless you count the time when he was 6 years old on a pony), and he loved it. Big plus…something we enjoy together!
If you haven’t seen our photos of Angel’s Pool (check Instagram), you’ll appreciate the edited version….and the non-edited version. Very sneaky I know! There’s a little hole that you can “sit” in at the top of the falls and our guide held our legs with his legs while another guy snaps photos as fast as he can.
It was the highlight of the trip. The breakfast after our adventure was a big surprise and highlight, especially when we found out Derek was sitting where Will Smith sat only 10 days prior. Clearly, it was a good spot.
The original pic....
And the edited version....
We ended it all with a helicopter ride over Victoria Falls…my first helicopter ride ever. I cried when I put on the headphones, in total disbelief that this is currently my life.
I truly cannot believe it most days.
Last but certainly not least, we purchased our first piece of art. Years ago I began a tradition of buying a piece of art everywhere I went. I love looking at my home and seeing memories around me. While we were walking through a square we saw a guy working diligently on a pencil drawing of a giraffe. When we walked by the next day we saw him hanging it up for sale.
Turns out he worked for 4 days on it, and all I could see is that sweet giraffe face greeting friends and family in a home that we will one day have again.
So we got the painting. And then I forgot it in a hotel in Israel. Damn.
Lucky for us, they are going to mail it to TX…but I must say, that piece of art is becoming more expensive than we planned!
As Derek and I sat on our last night in Victoria Falls, enjoying another beautiful sunset, I asked him, “Was it worth it?”
To which we both responded, “Absolutely, we wouldn’t change a thing.”
I would also like to mention our amazing taxi driver, Themba. Lorrie connected us with him right away and he drove us from place to place almost exclusively. He taught us about his country and the problems they are having, as well as the love he has for his wife and newborn daughter. Every evening when we left him we worried that he wouldn’t get enough sleep and he wouldn’t have enough time with his family before starting a new day.
Much to my complete surprise and joy…as Themba was taking us to the airport, he and Derek surprised me by taking us to Themba’s home to meet his beautiful wife and daughter…and to see the home he built with his own two hands.
That was the highlight of the whole trip….those conversations in that taxi with Themba and meeting his family.
It’s always the people. Always.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. A few things to remember about traveling to Victoria Falls:
- You are the majority of the economy of the country, expect to pay accordingly (it’s very expensive).
- If you’re not a local, you will fee like a tourist. I really dislike that feeling, but because of my skin color couldn’t be avoided. You aren’t the only one.
- Safety is not what it is in the states, or many other countries. Don’t be stupid or expect the national parks or local guides to safeguard you. Be mindful of your physical abilities and lack of abilities.
- Talking too much to people hassling you will only make it worse. Ignore unless you plan to buy/pay/give.
- Pack water shoes (a must if you are white water rafting).
- Pack hiking shoes (or running shoes that can be hiked in).
- Pack a rain jacket!
- Be generous with your tips, the people of Zimbabwe & Zambia need it much more than you do.
- Check out our favorite artist, Ignatious, in the main area market with the green awnings. Or email him: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Have Themba the taxi driver take you everywhere you need to go. Send him a message on What’s App (+263 7 74376521) and tell him you are friends with me and Derek. Give him a big hug from us!