Earlier this year I took a badly planned trip to Victoria Falls (the town) and somehow ended up at the Falls. I won’t divulge the reasons as to why it was a badly planned trip and generally a horrid experience overall because that didn’t matter once I got to the falls. Not that the stress was worth it, but it made it all better when I saw the smoke that thunders.
It took a whole day to drive to a town called Kasane which is where I was spending the night. Kasane is a popular tourist destination in the north of Botswana and is in a prime location for tourists because it is less than an hour from the Zambian, Namibian and Zimbabwean border. You can literally visit 3 countries in one day. On the Botswana side there is the Chobe river which connects to the Zambezi river on the Zambian and Zimbabwean side so there is plenty of wildlife which means there are numerous lodges and safari companies. Not forgetting of course the main attraction of the area shared by Zimbabwe and Zambia; the Victoria Falls. As a result the area is one of Southern Africa’s tourist meccas.After arriving in Kasane and spending the night in a basic lodge which I might add was slightly overpriced as most accommodation is there, the next day we headed to the town of Victoria Falls for a conference which was supposed to last the whole day. Just after lunch plans changed and the organizers availed a bus to the conference attendees so they could go see the falls if they wanted to. I decided to seize the day and go. From the hotel where the conference was being held, the Falls were a 5 minute drive away.
We excitedly tumbled out of the bus, camera’s ready and immediately clicked away by the sign by the entrance. Eventually I went to pay to get in. Any currency is accepted at the Falls, from Euros and Dollars to Rands and even Pula. I paid in Pula and entered, still taking pictures of everything in sight like a true tourist. I must admit before seeing the falls, I was pretty indifferent about the experience itself, excited but indifferent – if that is possible. I just didn’t think it was that big of a deal, until I saw them.For a moment I was actually stunned and all I could say was “wow”. My companions were gasping in awe and before I knew it cameras were out again and all one could hear was “Me! Take a photo of me next!”.
It’s the size, the sheer size and monstrosity of the falls that hits you first. They are just so big and you suddenly feel so small. Like your existence in a world where things of such size reside is barely a drop in the ocean. The Falls native name, mosi oa tunya, makes so much sense when you are looking at it. The water truly thunders down and disappears into a thick mist or “smoke”, it’s a perfect description.
I then went on a mission to walk the full length of the rain-forest park but after a good hour that proved impossible, mainly because I kept stopping to take pictures which made the mission tedious and long. I gave in when my camera battery began protesting and made my way back to the entrance since I had to be at the hotel by a certain time.
At some point I decided to climb a tree that had grown across the pathway and became a model for some Chinese tourists, I’m a star in some family’s holiday pictures! I also watched some more tourists take photos with monkeys outside the entrance which was amusing. They were braver than I! I don’t trust monkeys, too mischievous!
Next time I go there which I hope is soon, I want to also cross over to the Zambian side so I can hang over the edge of the falls like a true bad-ass! It’s definitely a place worth stopping by once or twice in your life, just to remind yourself that you shouldn’t take your life too seriously. Such sights force you to come out of yourself and just enjoy life for what it is.
View a few more pictures below…