Sunday, August 21, 2022

Africa: Victoria Falls

Our first of four destinations was Victoria Falls. Similar to how Niagara Falls have a United States and a Canada side, Victoria Falls can be viewed from Zambia or Zimbabwe. We stayed on the Zambia side and did not cross over to Zimbabwe. This would have required purchasing an extra visa, and we were only there for a very short amount of time.

We picked this location not because of the falls, but because our hotel had zebras roaming freely around the grounds. I had been following Avani Victoria Falls on Instagram for a few years and I told our tour operator that I wanted to include it in our itinerary. I found this hotel by following #zebras and seeing that zebras walked around the swimming pool very casually!

We only stayed at Avani for two nights, and we left at 7:00am after the second night. So we didn't even have a full 48 hours there. 

Upon arrival, we were taken to our room and I immediately got changed to go to the pool. I had the perfect bathing suit: rainbows and zebras! Victoria Falls also has a rainbow and zebras!

Before even leaving room, I looked outside the balcony and there we saw her: our first zebra of the trip! Right outside of our room. And then another one followed! I was so excited. We rushed out of the room so we could get closer. We were told we shouldn't get too close, because the zebras didn't like that. I made sure to stay a good six feet away, which I had practiced during covid.

The zebras had their own security guards. The guards were there to make sure that guests didn't get too close to the zebras. Although we did see a two-year-old child running towards a zebra and the zebra not being happy about it. But thankfully the child was quickly rescued by a parent!

The great thing about Avani is that it's a five minute walk to the falls. So after hanging out at the pool, we went for a quick exploration, with the intent of spending more time there the following day. The falls were beautiful and there were many different view points from which to observe them. 

We then went back to the hotel for dinner, at which point we had to walk through a few giraffes. Giraffes also roam freely around the hotel, although they do not get as close to the pool as the zebras. 

The next morning, we decided to run outside. There was a nice path around the hotel grounds that also went by the neighboring hotel. It also went out onto the main road, so we ran on that a little bit too. It felt great to be running after three days off. This hotel also had a small gym with treadmills, but we much preferred running outdoors. And I think we did need to stop once and wait for some giraffes to pass.

Then we had breakfast and their buffet was huge. I made sure to have something with fat at every breakfast to help with the absorption of the Malaria pills. Those pills made me a little dizzy and gave me strange dreams for the first few days, but then I got used to them. 

We sent more time exploring the falls and they were truly magnificent. 

You can see the mist in front of our faces

When we returned to the resort we were greeted by EIGHT zebras! The previous day we had seen only three, and we didn't realize there were more. I just loved admiring their stripes and watching them graze. The other guests loved them too as they were the focal point of the hotel. 

Eight Zebras outside the hotel rooms

That evening, we went on a sunset cruise on the Zambezi river. We saw some elephants and hippos and enjoyed the beautiful sunset. 

The next morning, we were picked up by our transfer at 7:00am so there was no time to run. It was definitely a short stay and I would have loved more time with those zebras. But I knew there were more zebras ahead.

Our next destination was Botswana. We were driven about one hour to the Zambia/Botswana border and we actually drove through a place where Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia all met up with each other. We had to sanitize our shoes to prevent Foot In Mouth disease from spreading between countries. At the immigration center, we were handed off to another driver who drove us about 25 minutes to Kasane airport. 

From Kasane, we flew to our next destination: Makgadikgadi Pans. (I still cannot pronounce it). We traveled on a light aircraft and Greg and I were the only two passengers! Just us and the pilot.

But before getting on the light aircraft, we had to leave our large luggage at the airport. We were allowed to take the backpack, the duffel bag and the small luggage. We knew this in advance, so we repacked everything accordingly. I was a little nervous about leaving my luggage at an airport, but all of the important things were packed in the smaller bags. 

Thank goodness for Dramamine because the first 20 minutes were very, very bumpy. the seats were small and cramped and it was too loud to be able to talk to Greg. In other words, the novelty of it wore off pretty quickly. The flight lasted one hour and 20 minutes and I was happy when we finally landed. More to come in my next post!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so excited for you--it must have been surreal seeing all those zebras! Off to read the next installment.