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  1. #1
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    Default Family visit to Vic Falls - Trip Report

    I finally get time to do a short report on our recent trip to Vic Falls. It is a follow up on this thread that I started to get information when I was planning for it.
    Firstly thank you to everyone for the information that you supplied. The link http://www.victoriafalls-guide.net/v...ctivities.html provided by Dandesha was super and had a lot more than the activities at the falls. A must for planning a trip to this great place. It is just not good on weather reports and I have found this one better - http://www.weather-forecast.com/locations/Victoria-Falls/forecasts/latest .
    I will put in a few links to photos in the report but for those who want to see more, please go to http://www.pbase.com/lirritma/vic_falls . (If you hunt around you will also find photos of my recent trip to Kgalagadi).

    Trip report.

    Day 1
    We arrived at the Vic Falls airport after flying over Botswana with great views over the dry pans. I was unfortunately seated next to a nice American gentleman who told me that it was his first trip to the falls as well and then he will be going on a hunting safari to target a leopard – made me sick.
    We were taken to the old Vic Falls Hotel which still has its Old Colonial feel. The service was good, the rooms spacious and the location great. We were looking into a courtyard area where they grow their own herds and veggies for the restaurants. A huge male baboon was chased away when it came in and started to feast on the spring onions. My son wasn’t happy because he enjoyed sitting so close to it. Here are a few photos. The first is of the courtyard.
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    This one is a panorama of the face of the hotel that overlooks the bridge. It has a large lawn with lovely trees. Great to see the sunrise from here and to have a sundowner – or 3 o’clock high tea.
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    This is a view towards the bridge in the afternoon from the Terrace restaurant.
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    The one thing that I noticed from the Vic Falls guide is that it is one of the few places in the world where you can see a lunar rainbow. It wasn’t planned like that, but our trip just happened to be at full moon when this happens. Our first experience of the falls was therefore at night at full moon. This was really special and I got some photos of it. This one over the main falls
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    … and this one at the Devil’s Cataract
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    We were soaking wet from the spray and luckily I planned for a sleeve to put my camera in and took the tripod with for these photos (10 second exposures). We closed the day off with a great dinner at the Hotel.
    Last edited by lirritma; 2011/07/31 at 07:49 PM.

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  3. #2
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    I bet a soaking time was had by all!
    Great place, we also just got back. Can't wait for the next trip. The Zimbabwean people were so hospitable.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Steve
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  4. #3
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    Day 2.
    After a full breakfast at the hotel (included in the room rate) we went for a Tour of the Falls. I find it very difficult to find the right words to describe the sight of the falls and maybe Livingston was right when he said it is like the “Flight of Angels” because it is something Heavenly. The power of the water, the spray which isn’t missed but actual water that get pushed into the sky by the wind created by the falls, the water disappearing in front of you into the earth … just awesome and left me speechless. I didn’t take a raincoat because I wanted to get wet – you just have to experience it. Those thundering clouds go up and when you look up you can see the rain come down. At Danger Point the spray was so thick that we could hardly see the falls. It was just masses of water coming over the edge across the gorge and like being inside a real storm. Within seconds we were wet to our underpants. We then walked to the bridge and back to the park entrance and by that time we were nearly dry again.
    A few remarks on the Tour of the Falls:
    • You don’t need a guide to take you through because you can read more about the history of the Falls than what they tell you. The walkways are clearly marked so you will not get lost in the rainforest. It is basically a circle route from the entrance to Livingston’s statue all the way down the falls to Danger Point and the bridge and then back to the entrance. It would have been half the price to do it that way as well and you get SADC discount if you have your passport (take it in a Ziploc bag)
    • The glare of the sun from across the gorge in the morning is very bad and you don’t get good views of the falls. It is also terrible for photography. I went back the afternoon and it was fantastic. You also don’t see rainbows over the falls in the morning and only from around 2 o’clock in the afternoon when you have the sun at your back.
    Here is a photo of the main falls that I took in the afternoon. Please go to http://www.pbase.com/lirritma/the_falls to see 32 photos that I took.
    Link to larger version

    The purpose of our trip was to relax so everyone had a lazy afternoon in and around the hotel. The hotel’s location and grounds just lean it towards that. We had a light lunch at the Terrace restaurant and then went for a Sunset and Dinner Cruise on the Zambezi.
    The dinner cruise was special for us because it was also the birthday of our son. There were only 3 tables on the boat which made it a nice intimate affair.
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    We saw some elephants and hippos and had the best sundowner ever.
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    The food was very nice and the drinks on the house. I would really recommend this. Being winter, it was a bit chilly but they provided blankets. A camera and binos is a must.

  5. #4
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    Day 3
    The day started with an early breakfast because our pick up for the half day canoeing in the Zambezi was at 7 o’clock. We eventually got into the water at around 10:30 after we first stopped at the operator’s lodge to coffee and to sign indemnity forms. We then drove through the Zambezi National Park to the launch site. There was no game in sight other than a lilac breasted roller and one waterbuck. The fences of the park are also gone. We could see plenty old signed of elephant activities but were told various stories from it is not the best time of the year for game to the government drove the herd towards Botswana because they became a problem and some locals were killed. At the lunch spot we saw some bush meat being hanged to dry and the guy told us it was elephant trunk that he got from the park wardens – who do you, believe? The guides then only started to inflate the canoes and we left after the safety talk. We were at the lunch spot (and end of the trip) at around 12:30. It was great to be on the water but it could have been better if all the time wasted before we launched were better planned. The lunch was basic but nice. The hippos posed a problem due to the river still being very full. This makes them more nomadic and they can pop up anywhere. The guides took a lot of precautions to ensure we don’t land up in trouble and that was good. We had some glimpses of an elephant and a croc and heard the call of a fish eagle. Will I do it again? Maybe not.
    Link to larger version
    After we got back to the hotel we sat down for a drink whilst overlooking the bridge and the spray of the falls. This was followed by one of the highlights of the trip – the chopper flight over the falls. This is expensive but a must. You can cut out the cost of other things but you must do this. The views from the shy over the falls were just breathtaking and the experiences we had whilst walking next to the falls just continued with the flight. On good recommendation from friends who visited the falls just a few weeks before us, we booked the 30 minute flight as appose to the 15 minute one and it was worth it. We circled the falls a few times and then flew down the gorges below the falls, turned around and came back over the falls followed by a flight down the river and over the game reserve where we saw various game from the sky.
    Views over the falls,
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    … an elephant on one of the islands in the river,
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    … hippos in the river,
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    … there are more at this link http://www.pbase.com/lirritma/activities .

    A few notes on taking photos from the helicopter:
    • Keep your shutter speed high – above 1/500 – to get a sharp picture.
    • Book a late afternoon flight to get softer light and rainbows over the falls in the gorge.
    • Try to sit on the sides of the chopper (even better if you sit next to the pilot – 3 guesses for who sat there). The small windows were open and one could point the lens through it.
    • If you are a more serious photographer, take two bodies if you can but keep it well secured on your body for easy handling. A wide angle zoom and a mid range zoom would be great (I took a 16-50mm and a 70-200mm)
    We finished a great day with a lovely dinner at the Palm restaurant at the Ilala Lodge which was within walking distance from the hotel. The ambiance was great with old colonial background music.
    Just something on dining at Vic Falls. Our travel agent had an offer of a Dine Around Voucher which allowed us to go to one of most of the restaurants. The argument was that it would be cheaper because they have made special deals with the restaurants. Well, it was a rip off because we could eat cheaper straight off the menus of all restaurants. Needless to say – I will never book through them again.

  6. #5
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    Day 4
    After 3 full days, we had breakfast a bit later. We didn’t plan anything specific for the morning. The purpose of the trip was to have a relaxed pace after the past few months of being away from each other for most of the time. Sitting in the early morning sun, like dassies, at breakfast was great. The boys wanted to go down the zip line over the gorge so that was first on the agenda. One has great views down the first gorge below the falls from the launch site.
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    They zipped down the gorge …
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    .. and then spotted this dead hippo down below. During the Tour of the Falls we were told that they sometimes get to close to the edge of the falls and then get pulled down the falls.
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    The boys decided that they want to spend the rest of the morning around the hotel but my wife and I walked across the bridge to see the falls from the Zambian side. It was a 3 hour round trip but very nice. For the first time it was also great to have a SA passport because we just got stamps and walked through. The American couple who we walking close to us had to pay for visas to get into Zambia and again to cross back into Zimbabwe.
    The view from the bridge towards the falls (the light would have been better in the afternoon)
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    One has to see the falls from both sides because the perspective is different. You get a lot closer to the falls (it is a shorter section though) on the Zambian side.
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    You also get views from above the edge of the falls.
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    There is a great view of the bridge towards Zimbabwe (the building top right above the bridge is our hotel) ….
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    … and when you cross the narrow bridge to the head on the Zambian side of the gorge, you get a circular rainbow at midday when you look away from the falls.
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    Elephant Back Safari was planned for the afternoon. I’m in general not a big supporter of this kind of activity but it was indeed a lovely experience to be so close to these big animals and to interact with them. It was a special trip for our younger son who is afraid of elephants. He came back with a complete diffirent view and not scared anymore. The walk through the bush from the eye level of an elephant was an interesting feeling. Afterwards we got to feed them by hand.
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    Extremely intelligent animals – I tried to hide some of the food but she kept her trunk in front of me every time till I gave her everything.
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    I can recommend this but again feel that they can cut out some of the proceedings and allow for more time on the elephant’s back in the bush. I will next time also book with the other operator (Wild Horizons) because their elephants walk down the banks of the river whilst we were on a private game reserve on this one.
    The evening was booked at the Boma for dinner. A African experience themed affair. You get to eat some African delicacies, like deep fried Mopanie worms (tasted like charcoal to me) and a selection of game that get grilled for you. Your mind set need to be right for the place because it is not about coming to eat from a large buffet at leisure. The pace in the restaurant was a bit rushed for me – in a space of two hours you had to get some traditional clothing, face paint, drank traditional beer, had starters, get your main course sorted out and then the drummers and dancers start before you got stuck into you main (and you want to take photos). Soon after the show they start to hand out small jembe drums to everyone and a short drumming session is followed by a bit of tribal dancing by those visitors who felt like it. Quickly had desert and then we had to make our pick up to our hotel (it is not within walking distance of any of the hotels other than the lodge in which it is). It was great but I would have like it to be a bit more relaxed. Here are a few photos:
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    Back at the hotel we all went straight to bed for another good night’s sleeping with the soft thunder of the falls in the background.
    The following morning it was breakfast, a short walk through the village and then off to the airport after a last drink at the Terrace with the spray and bridge as our view.
    The trip was beyond our expectations and maybe one day we return. Perhaps like the old couple sitting on the bench under the tree in front of the hotel or this one at the falls on the Zambian side.
    Link to larger version

  7. #6
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    Dis so unfair.... ek wil dit ook doen!! Lyk darm of julle lekker gekuier het!!!.
    I like anything with 4 or more wheels...

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