Africa Day Seven: Zimbabwe ; Mosi-oa-tunya or Victoria Falls And A Cruise On The Zambezi River

Africa Day Seven: Zimbabwe ; Mosi-oa-tunya or Victoria Falls And A Cruise On The Zambezi River

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It was a short stay in  Johannesburg, South Africa.  No  time for sightseeing.  We had an early flight,  so a nice breakfast,  a quick ride to the airport, a smooth clearance through security and boarding,  and we were off to Zimbabwe.  We landed  at  the Victoria Falls airport and soon were on our way to our hotel, the   Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, perched on a hilltop overlooking a  portion of the Victoria Falls National Park. . victoria-falls-ride-5

We quickly checked into our rooms, with just little time to admire the  spectacular views and scenery. victoria-falls-ride-1

I was surprised at how brown and dry it was here in central Africa, but learned from our guide that we were at the end of the dry season. We were told in a few weeks, rain would fall,  and change the brown leafless trees to a sea of green. It seemed the local vultures didn’t mind the heat of the central African sun, the temperature was near 100 degrees, as they enjoyed a mid day snack near the lodge.victoria-falls-ride-3

After settling into our rooms,   we were off again to see a world heritage site and one of the seven wonders of the natural world, the famous  Mosi-oa Tunya or Victoria Falls.  We drove through the small town  named after Victoria Falls and a few miles to the Victoria Falls entrance , which also is near the border crossing with Zambia. The Zambezi River, which creates the Falls is the border between the two countries. Here is a link to some photographs of the lodge and our drive to the Falls.

Upon arrival at the entrance to the park we were greeted by a few of these  local residents, distant cousins to their larger kin, the gorillas who we visited in Rwanda.  They busily gathered whatever food we humans left behind. victoria-falls-ride-7

After a short walk we heard the roar of the first set of cascades of the almost two mile long waterfalls. Moisi-oa Tunya means “the smokes that thunders” in the native language and we soon saw how it got this name.   Even the first view we had of the Falls, from a distance, was breathtaking.  And  the thunderous sound of the  Zambezi River dropping from a plateau over 300 feet to it’s explained how it got it’s native name. Here is a link to a video of the falls I uploaded to my YouTube channel

Even though it was the dry season, and the flow of the water greatly reduced, the famous rainbows still appeared over falls. It was a truly awe inspiring experience. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-44

We walked along the almost two mile rim, taking in the spectacular views from different perspectives. In addition to the almost overwhelming  beauty of the falls there is  a lot of history too, During my hike I came upon this explorer, responsible for giving the Victoria Falls  it’s modern name, the famous Scottish explorer David Livingstone.zimbabwe-victoria-falls-10

The walk along the rim took us  under a canopy of large trees dripping from the continuous mist coming off the falls. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-39

Across the gorge we were able to see some brave fishermen and bathers getting pretty close to the edge of the falls. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-17

About mid way  along the gorge we came to the main cascade and it’s rainbow and I stopped to reflect on this marvelous display of the power of nature. Here is a link to another video of the falls I uploaded to my You Tube channel.

As we got further down the rim, the evidence of the effects of the dry season the the falls was clear. The waters of the Zambezi river were too low to flow over the gorges here and the rocky surfaces were exposed. In the rainy season this entire area is one large waterfall. It looks like I will have to come back again to experience this. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-53

After spending some time along the edge of the cliffs it was time to head back, allowing me one more chance to  enjoying  this amazing wonder of the natural world.  Here is a link to some more photographs of our visit to the renowned Victoria Falls. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-54

We took the short ride back to the hotel, had a late  lunch and we were off again for a cruise on the calm waters of the Zambezi River. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-13

While most of the folks on the cruise enjoyed the beautiful scenery, and some cocktails and appetizers,  myself, and the birders in our group, took advantage of the cruise to look for  the many beautiful and exotic birds living  along the river banks. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-16

We were able to see and, with the help of a guide, identify many different bird species, including  this majestic African fish eagle. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-23

We also saw some other animals on our cruise,  including  a few hippopotamuses including this big fellow. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-40And some reptiles too, including this fellow hidden along the river bank. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-12

And, as the sun began to set, we saw some elephants  playing in the water, before crossing the river and heading to shore for the night. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-38

We were not only treated to a beautiful sunset.zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-30

We were also able to enjoy an almost full moon rising. zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-42

The river cruise was a delightful way to spend our first afternoon and evening in central Africa and we reflected on the beautiful evening as we headed to shore under the bright African moon.zimbabwe-victoria-falls-zambezi-river-41

After a nice dinner I spent some time enjoying the moon which from viewed south of the equator, appears, upside down from the way it appears in the Northern Hemisphere.  before I retired for the night, looking forward to another day of adventure. Here is a link to some more photographs from our cruise on the Zambezi river.

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy