Our next stop in Africa was Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls to be exact. Victoria Falls sits on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. You can visit both countries and get different views of the falls. We decided to stay in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe for the week because we heard the views were more exciting and the city was more active.
We board our flight to Victoria Falls and are off. While on the flight the pilot gets on the PA and says “We will be arriving in Zambia in 2 hours.” I’m a little confused but I must of heard him wrong. As we get closer the pilot gives us the weather report for Zambia. Hmmm. I know I heard him say Zambia this time. Now I am mad at myself for booking the flight to the wrong airport. While not a huge deal it was still annoying. I double check everything. The pilot announces to prepare for landing into Zambia. Yep, I messed up.
Having done some research I know we will have to take a cab from the Zambia Airport to the border of Zimbabwe. Go through passport control to exit Zambia. Walk over the bridge to the passport control entrance of Zimbabwe. Then take another cab to our hotel. All while carrying our bags. What a pain. Beyond annoyed I made this mistake.
We get off the plane and see this shadow reflection at the gate. Seriously, pilot! Give me a nervous breakdown.
So now that we are at the right airport we grab our bags and hit the ATM. They use US dollars in Zimbabwe. We started the trip with some US dollars but now that we are five months into the trip we are down to our last $30. Now is the time to replenish our stash….except the ATM at the airport is out of cash. Yes, completely empty. No worries the cab said he will take us to an ATM on the way to our hotel. After stopping at two more ATM’s the banks confirm that they are completely out of cash and hope more will be delivered Monday. Spoiler alert: The entire eight days we were there the ATM’s were never filled. We convinced the travel agent we bought an excursion from to charge our credit card an extra $50 and give cash. Talk about a mess trying to pay for cabs, food, and tips.
We shouldn’t be too surprised as not too long ago their dollar went down the tubes. So much so they had bills that represented billions of dollars. We found a few locals selling the old currency.
Enough of the crazy entry into Zimbabwe, onto the fun stuff. We spent time at Victoria Falls hiking the trails on both the Zimbabwe and Zambia sides. It was still high rain season so the falls were loud and full. The mist was insane making it kinda hard to get really good pictures.
Even though we had rain ponchos we were still soaked to the bone when we were done.
Here are a few pictures from both the Zimbabwe and Zambia side:
Also on the Zambia side we encountered a few baboons who were looking for a free handout. We also found a few Zebra hanging out in a parking lot of a hotel that couldn’t careless that people were all around.
We had met some friends who told us how much fun a river boat safari was through Chobe National Park in Botswana. They were right, this tour didn’t disappoint. We took the short drive to the Botswana border and meet our guide on the other side. We got lucky and had the whole boat to ourselves. No blocked views.
It wasn’t long before we spotted a crocodile sunning on the sand.
Shortly after we saw some gazelles playing along the river.
Then we ran across a herd of elephants. They made their way down to the water and made a little mud hole. The poor baby was getting pushed around in the mud hole. A few of them ventured off and went for a swim. Just watching the two elephants push each other into the water or jump on the others back made them look like two children playing together.
We even came across an elephant in the middle of the river on a grass pad. After our elephant experience in South Africa I didn’t think we would get that close to an elephant again. I was wrong. Our tour guide had no problem running our boat right up on the grass pad. He was right in front of us. Totally amazing.
Not far beyond the elephants were a pack (?) of hippos. Even a baby! The first baby hippo we have seen. This is also the first pack of hippos we have seen outside the water. They too were hanging out on the grass pads. Check out that yawn!
We also spent some time observing a few giraffes along the banks.
On our way back to the boat dock we came across a few buffalo in a grass pad in the middle of the river. They have the best look of distain on their faces. Aren’t their “hairdos” amazing? It reminds me of the wigs judges and lawyers used to were back in the day.
The other big excursion we went on was a Lion Encounter. We found a place that lets you take a walk with lions through the bush. These lions are cubs (newborn to 18 months) who were once pets. Laws came out no longer allowing wild animals as pets. This organization took the lions and now use them for the lion encounter as they are not afraid of humans and have spent their lives with humans and do not know how to survive in the wild. These same lions will be used to breed lions that will be released to the wild to join other prides to help repopulate the dying breed.
So I’m not going to lie this kinda scared me. We were given sticks in case we needed to use them as a distraction. I guess that is better than us using our arms or legs as a distraction. We made our walk into the bush were the two cubs (18 months) were waiting for us with the handlers and the gentleman with a gun. Okay I feel a little better now. Ha. The two lions led the way across a bridge up to a nice dirt patch and laid down.
We were then allowed to get closer and take pictures. Tim was the first to volunteer. He marched right up to them and got down beside them. I was impressed. He was able to pet them and pose for pictures. We each took a turn. Scary as hell.
After we all got a few pictures and petting we went for a walk. They led the way and we followed along. You can tell they have done this walk many times and they didn’t think anything of it.
We ended at a shaded area were they rolled around and cleaned each other. This was by far one of my most favorite experiences.
Disclaimer: We did research beforehand to make sure we were supporting a cause and not a circus. To the best of our knowledge we made a good choice.
We stayed at a really awesome resort, Shearwater Explorer Village, that had little chalets to sleep in. You could also rent a tent. Not really for us. We were told by our cab driver that it wasn’t really safe to walk to town (about one km) at night. Not because of the people but because animals roamed free, mostly elephants. So we spent our evenings at the hotel. We had a blast hanging out with Terry at the Restaurant and Bar in the evenings.
Central Africa was one of my favorite areas. There was so much to do and see. We were able to occupy a weeks worth of activities while we were there.