Surprising Cities – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Ok, I’ll admit it, I cheated a bit on this one as well. It was really the whole area that amazed me. The town itself wasn’t spectacular, but the whole experience was. Victoria Falls is the final (at least for now) in my surprising cities series.

Why I went: As part of a trip to Southern Africa. We wanted to see Victoria Falls and decided to go from the Zimbabwe side. It wasn’t in the orignal itinerary, but we added it in before we went.

What I expected: To be amazed by the falls and to enjoy the elephant back safari, but pretty much nothing else. I’ll admit some apprehension. There were travel warnings, and the week before I went the former Prime Minister’s wife was killed in a car accident, in which he was also injured. This was a bit of a scandal at the time, and didn’t help with the warnings to stay clear of the country.

What I found: A people who were so friendly and welcoming that it was hard to believe anyone could be that nice in the face of so much poverty that they can no longer accept their own currency; a country filled with landscape, adventure, wildlife, and a culture they manage to maintain despite such hardship; a sadness that underlies this culture when they tell you that it?s ok if you tip them in old shoes instead of money, because they?d be so thrilled to be able to put shoes on their family?s feet; the framework for a country that could be even more incredible given the opportunity, and that already offers an amazing experience for those tourists who are willing to give it a chance.

How long to spend there: You can easily spend three nights here. Depending on where you’re heading in from, it can be a bit of a journey so take the rest of the first day/evening to relax. I can’t recommend enough that you stay at the historic Victoria Falls hotel. You can actually see and hear the falls from the back dining patio. You could spend part of a day just exploring the hotel and its grounds. In addition to the falls, activities available in the area an elephant back safaris (highly recommended), Lion walks, game drives – both day and night options, river safaris, white water rafting – considered some of the best rapids in the world, and more . Given all of these options, anyone looking a decent amount of adventure could really spend numerous days here. If you want to get in the falls and an additional activity or two, I suggest three nights. I spent two nights and it was not enough time.

*Note: two cameras, luckily not expensive ones, got sacrificed due to the spray from the falls. (It was like a downpour – take the rain coats when the guides offer them to you.) Therefore, some photos are blurry. I used the best ones I could find.


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