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  • Our short trip across the border landed us in Victoria Falls Backpackers where we availed of the swimming pool and cooking facilities with the sounds of the water of Victoria Falls in the background. On Sunday night, there were very different sounds to be heard around the hostel, as we watched the Ireland v France rugby world cup match. The screams and shouts coming from the four of us during the tense game, caused quiet a scene around the place. The owners probably regretted allowing us to take over the television!!
    The next day we made our walked down to the Victoria Falls, where we posed for photos with amazing views in the background. We wandered around the National Park, taking in the beautiful sites and sounds of the Falls.
    Next stop for us is a flight to Johannesburg in South Africa with Air Zimbabwe. After taking a trip to their offices in the town yesterday, to enquire about checking in our luggage, we were told that the flight had been changed to two hours earlier and with an added stopover in Bulawago. No emails had been sent to notify any of us of these changes. Hopefully there won't be other people who miss their flight due to this lack of communication! But as we keep saying, it's all part of the African experience!!
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  • At 8:00 am we transferred to the airport for our one hour and 20 minute flight to Victoria Falls. We arrived to much warmer temperatures than we've had in South Africa. It felt good to feel the heat!

    We arrived at our hotel, the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge mid afternoon and were immediate impressed by the location and decor. It's about three kilometres from town and sits on 29 hectares and has its own watering hole for the wildlife.

    We got settled in and then met up for a sundowner cruise on the Zambezi River. The rice is the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia and us home to hippos, elephants and scores of bird species. We cruised the river searching out wildlife and then enjoyed a spectacular sunset before returning to the hotel. We had dinner with some of our group at the hotel and enjoyed some warthog steak. After dinner we retired to the viewing deck where we had drinks and watched a herd of about 25 elephants wander down to the watering hole. Even though it was dark, the watering hole is somewhat lit up so we could watch them move around and drink. After the elephants left we were treated to an unusual sound display of hyenas fighting and screaming over some leftover food they found. We've never heard anything like that before! It sounded like someone was murdering someone and we could hear bones being crushed and torn apart.

    Once the hyenas left we went back to our room where we slept with the super structured screen door locked but the glass door open. You can't leave the screen door open or even unlocked or you'll likely be woken up by baboons tearing apart your room, not to mention the bugs entering in to feast on you.
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  • This morning we drove the short duos table to the falls for a walking tour. From quite a distance you can see the "smoke" from the falls. We were warned to be prepared to get wet so we brought the waterproof camera and jackets.

    The first four viewing points are for the most part dry and we had great views of the thundering falls. As we progressed along the walkway through the further viewing points things got progressively wetter. There were places where it was "raining" a downpour that rivals our west coast rain and wet we got! The "rain" is spray from the falls that is shot up high above the falls from the crashing water only to come back down in pouring rain. Seeing the shear size of the falls and hearing the thunder is an unforgettable experience!

    After the falls we returned to the hotel to get dried off and then we went down to the viewing deck to watch the feeding of the local vulture population. We were led right down to a covered seating area and the vultures started flying in as they knew that food is coming. As soon as the meat was thrown out, the vultures went into a feeding frenzy! There were hundreds of them, two different species of vultures and the odd marabou stork also trying for scraps. The sound of the wings and the smell in the air was unlike anything we've experienced.

    We left the vultures and were driven back near the falls for a helicopter flight over the falls. The helicopters held six passengers plus the pilot and the flight lasted about 13 minutes which gave us enough time to circle the falls one and a half times in each direction so that everyone got equal opportunity to get photos of the falls. We though it might be hard to see the falls due to all of the smoke (spray) but we had excellent views and it was really exhilarating to fly over and see the views.

    We returned to the hotel and had a short nap and then met up for our Boma dinner experience. Dinner at the Boma is a buffet and barbecue of every kind of game meat imaginable. We had kudu stew, warthog steak, crocodile, eland meatballs and we each tried a small bite of a mopani worm, which was pretty disgusting! The highlight of the evening was when everyone in the Boma (which was a couple of hundred) were all given hand drums and we were taught some rhythms and played together. It was really awesome fun!

    We got back to the hotel and had a wick drink in the viewing deck where we saw three elephants wander down for their evening drink and then headed back to bed for the night.
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  • We got up very early this morning so that Robb, Claude and I could go down to the watering hole with a guide and sit in the blind they have there so that we could watch the animal comings and goings up close.

    We started out with the birds, most notably the helmutted Guinea fowl. These are kooky birds that look like they're incredibly stupid as they run around in a constant panic. It wasn't too long before a large herd of Cape Buffalo showed up for their morning drink. Sitting in the blind, being so close and yet mostly invisible was a pretty amazing experience. It seems like each species has their own time to come and fill up for the day.

    After the herd of Cape buffalo left we had a herd of Impala come through. After that came the baboons. We also saw some crocs come out to sun themselves on the sand. The was one Maribou stork, which is the largest stork on the world. Record wing span is 11 feet and they stand about 4.5 feet tall. We didn't see and elephants as they usually come to the watering hole in the afternoon or evening.

    We came back to the lodge and had breakfast and then we all boarded a small bus for the drive into Botswana. The drive takes about two hours and when we left Zimbabwe we had to get out of the bus and get our departure stamp in our passports, then we got back on the bus and drove a couple hundred yards to the Botswana checkpoint where we got our arrival stamps.

    After crossing into Botswana we drove less than 30 minutes to the Chobe Marina Lodge, our accommodation for the next two nights. Claude and I were given an awesome room that was one half of a two story villa right on the Chobe River. Our afternoon was spent on a sundowner cruise on the river. The Chobe River is the border between Botswana and Namibia, whereas the Zambezi River is the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, so while we didn't actually step on land in those two countries we were in them while on the two river cruises.

    This River cruise was quite different than the first one, as this time we saw several elephants in the river playing in the grass and reeds and rolling around bathing and having fun. We also some some hippos that were out of the water, which is called a thunder of hippos. If they are in the water, they are a plod of hippos.

    We stayed on the river for an incredible sunset and then had dinner and drinks before heading to bed for the early morning wake up for another safari game drive.
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  • Nach einem ausgedehnten langen Fotostopp auf der Brücke setzt der Pride of Africa seine Fahrt nun in Simbabwe fort.
    Langsam rumpeln wir, begleitet von einer Horde Paviane, unserem heutigen Ziel entgegen:
    Das Städtchen Victoria Falls, wo wir bis morgen Nachmittag halt machen werden.

  • Ist der ganze Zug an sich schon eine Hommage an die Kolonialzeit, so ist die Ankunft in Victoria Falls erst recht eine Zeitreise: Der Bahnhof liegt direkt gegenüber des Victoria Falls-Hotels, wo wir heute Nacht schlafen werden. Ein roter Teppich führt uns von den Gleisen direkt zum Eingang des Hotels, und unser Gepäck ist auch schon da.

    Den ganzen Reiz des mittlerweile etwas in die Jahre gekommenen Victoria-Falls-Hotels bekommt man aber zu spüren, wenn man auf die Terrasse hinaus tritt in den Garten und den unvergleichlichen Ausblick direkt auf die Viktoriafälle und die Eisenbahnbrücke, auf der wir eben noch gestanden haben, genießen kann.

    Der Wegweiser im Garten zeigt uns die Entfernungen auf der von Rhodes nie fertig gebauten Traumstrecke von Kapstadt nach Kairo an, die über Victoria Falls führte.

    Im Anschluß an den Empfang im Garten beziehen wir unser Zimmer: kolonial-rustikal mit direktem Blick auf den Garten und die Viktoriafälle.

    Danach ist auch schon Zeit fürs Mittagessen. Was wir als leckere Hühnchen-Nuggets essen, entpuppte sich im Nachhinein als lokale Spezialität: Krokodil! Schmeckt aber echt wie Hühnchen... :-)
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  • Da heute nicht mehr genug Zeit bis zum Abendprogramm bleibt, um die Viktoriafälle zu besichtigen, erkunden wir am Nachmittag den Ort. Dabei begegnen uns auch ein paar wilde Tiere: Esel und Warzenschweine :-)

    Viel ist in Vic Falls, wie der Ort liebevoll genannt wird, tatsächlich nicht zu sehen. Die desolate Lage Simbabwes ist auch hier deutlich zu spüren.

    Was muß man hier mehr fürchten: die Züge oder das Warnschild? :-)

    Aber wir finden das Restaurant aus dem Film wieder, welches in einem ausrangierten Eisenbahnwaggon untergebracht ist. Dort zu essen trauen wir uns aber nicht... :-)
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  • Von der nahezu unvermeidbaren afrikanischen Folklore begleitet brechen wir gegen Abend auf zum Sunset Cruise auf dem Sambesi. Gigantisch erstreckt sich der riesig breite Strom um uns herum...
    Malerisch das satte Grün im Licht der Abendsonne...
    Hin und wieder zeigt sich mal ein Vogel, aber ansonsten ist kein Tier in Sicht.

    Doch was ist das???

  • Mit dem langsam schwächer werdenden Licht des sich dem Ende zuneigenden Tages kommen sie hervor, die Tiere, auf die wir so sehnsüchtig gewartet haben:
    Erst der Elefant, der uns aber nur sein Hinterteil gönnt, und dann... Erst eins, dann zwei, dann drei, dann vier, dann fünf...
    Während das erste Hippo uns noch droht, weil wir ihm wohl viel zu nah sind mit unserem Boot, tauchen immer mehr Hippos auf und beobachten uns argwöhnisch.Read more