November 20, 2017
When you think of the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, think beyond the spectacular natural wonder of the Falls themselves. “The smoke that thunders” is but part of the magic of this superb and unspoilt part of Africa. And it is only a 90-minute flight from Johannesburg.
Victoria Falls International Airport was recently upgraded, making it the hub of nearby attractions, both in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries. A trip through the nearby Zambezi National Park towards Kasane in Botswana will take you to a point where four countries’ borders converge: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia, and they all have loads to offer the adventurous tourist.
Starting in the Vic Falls, as the town is affectionately known, which is just over 1km from the Falls, here are numerous activities to get you excited:
• Bungee jump off Victoria Falls Bridge (you are likely to remember those five seconds for the rest of your life).
• White-water raft on the Zambezi River.
• Swim in the Devil’s Pool on the edge of the Falls… if you dare (dry season only).
• Take a helicopter ride over the Falls to appreciate the magni!cence of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Microlight “ights are also on offer.
• Walk through the natural rainforest and soak up the beauty.
• Take a sunset boat cruise on the Zambezi River.
• Go on game drives and see the Big Five in the Zambezi National Park.
• Try your luck at a casino (not all the bucks are in the bush).
Victoria Falls boasts many places of accommodation to suit every budget. Many fine restaurants are dotted around the town and in the various hotels. The Cresta Sprayview Hotel is just 1.4km from the entrance of the Falls and is ideal for both holidaymakers and business travellers looking for a comfortable place to stay.
From your base in Victoria Falls, you may wish to venture north into Zambia. Livingstone, about 10km north and on the Zambezi River, is a historic colonial city and tourist centre. Here, there is accommodation aplenty, and there is an international airport with flights to Johannesburg and many other cities.
Adrenaline junkies will love the Jet Extreme, which offers a 30-minute adrenaline rush jet boating through the mighty rapids of the Zambezi River as it flows through the Batoka Gorge. Wildlife tours to the beautiful upper Zambezi region will be rewarded with abundant game sightings. Popular walking safaris allow you to interact with rhinos, elephant, lion and cheetahs. Elephant-back safaris will undoubtedly provide you with unforgettable memories of these gentle giants. And what angler doesn’t dream of hooking one of the Zambezi’s renowned tiger fish!
A drive of about 80 kilometres will take you through the Zambezi National Park into Botswana – you can self-drive or enlist one of the many tour operators in Victoria Falls. During the drive you can bank on seeing plenty of game, maybe even the Big Five. Depending on how often you stop, the trip will take about an hour and a half to the Botswana border.
Once over the border, head for Kasane, which lies on the east bank of the Chobe River. A delightful town, with many lodges and other places of accommodation, Chobe is also the gateway to the Chobe National Park, known for its large number of elephants and other game. A visit to Kasane must include a trip on one of the many river boats that offer superb views of the wildlife along the river banks, and you will see many crocodiles and hippos in addition to the elephants and other game. The Chobe River forms the border with Namibia. Cresta Mowana Safari Resort and Spa is highly recommended for accommodation.
Again you can self-drive or use a tour operator, and many variations are on offer. Typically, add three or four days to your southern African safari, and visit the varied vistas of Namibia. Journey south, cross the Chobe River, and head westwards through the Caprivi Strip (now known as the Zambezi Region), which is just north of the Okavango Panhandle and Delta. Set your sights on Namibia’s World Heritage Site, Twyfelfontein. Here you will find ancient bushmen rock paintings, and nearby the even more ancient Petrified Forest. The trees are estimated to be around 250 million years old.
The next part of your journey will take you across the desert as you head for the Mount Brandberg Nature Reserve and Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain. A spectacular walk with views of the Damaraland plains will lead you to the famous White Lady rock painting. End your trip in the quaint seaside village of Swakopmund, with its colonial, German-influenced architecture and atmosphere, and its lively nightlife.
Flickr/Matthew and Heather