Zimbabwe

Devil's Cataract

Here you’ll find travel reports about Devil's Cataract. Discover travel destinations in Zimbabwe of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

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  • Day8

    We had a couple of mornings where we went and had time with an elephant, feeding it and petting it. We also had the chance to sit up on its back and cling on whike it stood up. They are trained through positive reinforcement, gaining food treats as a reward. It showed that they are still wild animals when one elephant refused to sit diwn and allow our friend to get off her back. She had to climb onto the shoulders of the elephant trainer.Read more

  • Day14

    We took the night train to Victoria Falls, having quite a social evening (read VERY social evening with several cabins becoming packed party rooms) before looking out of the window in the early morning to see lions, reedbuck and elephants. We walked onto the bridge over the Zambezi, which is the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, watching some people bungee jump and getting a glimpse towards the falls. In a massive change from border protocol, we just had a scrap of paper stamped in order to let us leave/return to Zimbabwe, which no-one wanted to check in either direction.
    Victoria Falls is very much established as a tourist centre and whilst small and a bit rough around the edges, has a charming atmosphere. The wildlife is free to roam, including warthog and charming banded mongoose. Elephants and lion also roam at night, with elephants making holes in walls to get to the fruit trees. Best to avoid dark places after nightfall! (Not a bad bit of travel advice, however not always.....).
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  • Day36

    This campsite looks amazing, the campsites have cement blocks for the tents and lots of green grass surrounding them with a huge undercover meal area and kitchen. The bathrooms were clean and modern. There was a bar and restaurant area as well as a beautiful pool, I am very happy to be staying here for a few days.

    We set up our tents and then all met at bar where we were one of the hotel's staff members gave us information about optional activities available in Victoria Falls. I have decided to do a guided tour of Victoria Falls, bungee jump and the lion encounter.

    The second to last night we went out as a family for dinner where we all ordered different meats such as warthog, crocodile, impala, giraffe etc. I tried most of them but my favourite would have to be the crocodile!

    The last night at the camp I let my hair down a little bit and 'Jess the Mess' came out to play, 8 pre-mixed vodkas and 5 double shot vodkas with coke all within two hours was probably not the best idea. I was drinking because my tent buddy Nicole was leaving me and was already out drinking with her new tour group. We also met the new people joining our group that night, it first time we have met so I probably didn't give a very good first impression. I ended up in bed at about 12am but woke up at about 12:30am and vomited in my tent, once I made it to the bathroom I rested there for about an hour. The next morning was a struggle but no sympathy because it was self inflicted!
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  • Day17

    Lazy morning. Still up at 6:30 but only by our internal alarms. Breakfast is included at this hotel, so we met up with mom and dad for breakfast at 9. At 10, Yvonne picked us up to go to Victoria Falls (only a few minutes away). She had pre purchased tickets, so we walked right in. She gave us a short orientation and discussion about the falls and we started our 4.4km, leisurely walk, with 16 look-out points to appreciate the exquisite falls. March and April are the high water flow months for the falls. By November the volume of water will have greatly decreased.
    The falls were made famous by Dr. David Livingstone in 1855 when he came across them for the first time. ("Dr. Livingstone I presume?") Yvonne brought us ponchos for the wet portion of the trip which was a must (to stay dry anyway!). I had a chance to talk with Yvonne quite a bit on the walk. She is so easy to talk to and is very honest about the state of affairs in Zimbabwe (though it would be illegal for her to say some of the things she says!) Belmond subcontracts her to guide tours in this area. She started her business, Routes Through Africa, 6 years ago after managing the local Abercrombie and Kent tour operator office here in Victoria Falls. She tells us that very few women own their own companies in this country. Pretty remarkable!
    We had lunch with Yvonne at The Lookout Cafe (recommended by her) which had beautiful views of the falls and the historic bridge (finished in 1904) that spans the Zambezi River. Ken had crocodile which truly tastes just like chicken. (I confirmed. 😊) This restaurant is also the point where travelers sign up for bungee jumping, swinging and zip line. We saw a few people jump. Made me sick just looking at them!
    We had a half hour back at the hotel before Yvonne drove us to our next activity at 3:30p. We took a sunset cruise on the Ra Ikane, a small skiff with seating for 12. Drinks were included along with some small appetizers which were fine, not excellent. We had nice views of birds and crocodiles, a water monitor lizard, saw hippos, and saw another lovely sunset. We were back at 6:15p.
    Yvonne picked us up and drove us back to the hotel (5-10 minutes).
    We ate at the terrace again, this time just dessert. The ice cream brownie was mediocre in my opinion.
    An early night tonight - back up to the room by 7:30, but Ken and I ended up sitting in the lounge downstairs so that the room could be turned-down.
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  • Day18

    Mom got her hair done in the hotel at 9am while Ken and I went down for breakfast. They offer a breakfast buffet which is not bad. We left at 10am for a lion walk which mom arranged for since they had done it 7 years ago and really enjoyed it. Interestingly, Belmond - who arranged the trip for us - does not support the lion walk and so couldn't arrange it for us. A young woman named Amanda picked us up in an open safari vehicle. We had to stop at their office in town to pay for the excursion. While Ken and mom went inside to pay, dad and I were shooing away individuals trying to sell us bracelets or the, now worthless, Zimbabwean trillion dollar bills which are no longer in circulation. It was a 20 minute ride from there, mostly on bumpy road. Once there, we were greeted in an outdoor 'reception' area and joined by an American tour group. They gave us an orientation that included their conservation efforts and desire to release lions back into the steadily decreasing lion population. All well and good though there was quite a bit of discussion about how they count on us, as tourists, to help fund their endeavors (through the walk, purchasing their lion walk products, buying the video they were going to make of us, etc...)
    We broke up into 2 groups and walked with walking sticks which were to help establish some level of dominance with the lions. They brought 2 lions to walk with us, a female and male pair of cousins who were 19 and 21 months. They were playful with each other which was adorable. We walked, in pairs, with the lions through the bush. The walking terrain was quite difficult for mom. Dad appeared to do fine with it. It was actually hard to keep up with the lions as they were pretty fast! There were a couple of guides with us and lion handlers as well - even a gentleman with a rifle. The guide took all of the cameras and took many pictures. After we each walked with the lions, the animals rested in the shade and we each went up (behind them!) to pet their backs and get pictures. We were asked to tip the handlers and that was pretty much that. We went back to the reception area for light snacks and a drink and to watch the videos they wanted to sell us. The whole thing seemed heavy handed, and it wasn't entirely clear to us what the purpose of the business was - to help save lions (though not one has been released back into the wild since the lion walks started over 7 years ago) or to just make money. Still, Ken and I enjoyed the pictures we got (expensive ones though! - $150/person).
    We got back to the hotel by 1:15 and left with Yvonne, at 2p, for Ken and me to be able to say we've been to Zambia! She drove us the 4 of us to the check point and across the border. We all met up with a driver (Calvin) who drove us to the Livingstone Hotel - a beautiful 5 star hotel with gorgeous grounds overlooking the Zambezi River. We had a drink outside and had another nice conversation with Yvonne about the state of affairs in Zimbabwe. There is still a bride price here which allows for male ownership of women. If a woman is mistreated by her husband her parents will often encourage her to stay in the marriage because they can't pay back the dowry. Yvonne, herself, is divorced. There is about a 50% divorce rate here.
    We discussed the race delineation here including black, white, and colored (child of mixed parents) groups, the latter being a difficult word to accept in my vocabulary but is common place here.
    We were able to see a room at the hotel and it was very nice. There were also zebra all over the property which I'm a big fan of. 😁
    We drove the 5 minutes back to the border, switched back into Yvonne's vehicle and she took us the 5 minutes back to our hotel. So we've officially been to 4 more African countries!
    At 7p, mom, dad, Ken and I had dinner reservations and ate at the Livingstone Room at the hotel. It's their fanciest restaurant. The service was excellent, the food very good and the prices very reasonable for such a nice restaurant. And, of course, the company was great too! It's been a wonderful 2.5 week trip and we always love traveling with my parents. They make it very easy!
    Tomorrow we will have breakfast here and leave for the Victoria Falls airport at 11 to catch a British Airways flight to Johannesburg at around 1pm. It's an under 2 hour flight. If all runs on time, we will leave for Atlanta at 8pm and will get in 16 hours later. We will finally get home at around 11.
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  • Day16

    Had a shortened game drive this morning from 7 to 10:30. Only a pride of lions worth mentioning though they did perform when they suddenly ran after a Steenbok. It was quick though with no catch.
    Our 14 seater flight left for Kasabi at 11:25. This time I was prepared! Scopolamine patch, Meclizine and Zofran to start then no looking outside the window and staying distracted playing a game on my iPad. Worked like a charm! The flight was 40 minutes long. We were met by Yvonne, our guide for this last portion of our trip. She seems wonderful - beautiful English and incredibly knowledgeable. The historical and current political/societal conflict in Zimbabwe is extraordinarily depressing. It is a true dictatorship here led by Robert Mugabe (who is 93 years old). There is a 95% unemployment rate! Zimbabweans are required to use banks to save money with strict limits on what cash can be withdrawn. The government changed currency suddenly several years back (from a highly devalued currency to the US dollar). This was done overnight and those with a lifetime of savings in the banks, lost it all. There is enormous corruption and voter fraud here so little changes. Makes one grateful to live in a democratic country!
    Yvonne drove us the 10 minutes into Zimbabwe. We had to purchase our visas (good for both Zimbabwe and Zambia which is very close) and clear customs. This took about 30 minutes including time in line. She then drove us 60km (about 40-50 minutes) to Victoria Falls where she dropped us off at the Victoria Falls Hotel. Very elegant hotel much like the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island - fancy in its heritage, location and view but small rooms with little storage (no towel rods which is strange). We are in room 136 and mom in dad in room 137. Unfortunately, we are on the 2nd floor with no elevator here which is tough for both mom and dad.
    We had 45 minutes before we left for a helicopter ride above the falls at 4. (12-15 minute ride for $150/person). I got the co-pilot seat with great views and opportunities for photos. It was a beautiful first view of the falls. Given that Victoria Falls is part of a National Park there were warthogs right on the property too!
    We were back at the hotel by 5:30pm and went down for dinner on the hotel terrace at 6. I had a yummy ceasar salad and Ken's chicken sandwich was delicious. (Ice cream sundae was weak though) 😕. It's annoying to have to pay for our meals again not to mention, they charge for still water!
    Up to the rooms by 8 and, I am totally ready for bed!
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  • Day277

    Gegen Abend schauen wir ins kleine Städtchen Victoria Falls. Hier ist es nicht ganz so staubig wie in allen bisher gesehenen Orten, es gibt etliche Kunstgewerbeläden und Angebote für Touristen wie Helikopter-Flug, Bungee-Jumping und so: https://1drv.ms/v/s!AiUv8teodO-roSWbUxE0KUzBXmEq
    Alles ist sehr teuer, aber Ruth hatte uns vorgewarnt. Eine eigene Währung hat Simbabwe erst seit kurzem, sie wird 1:1 zum US Dollar, mit dem man hier sonst alles bezahlt, gerechnet. Geld zu bekommen ist allerdings sehr schwierig, denn es gibt keins. Weder für uns noch für die Einheimischen. Der Schwarzhandel mit Geld blüht.
    Im Supermarkt können wir mit Karte oder US Dollar bezahlen und kriegen auch Dollar zurück, in den kleinen Läden ist es schon nicht mehr so einfach.
    90 % der Einwohner sind arbeitslos, jeder versucht irgendwie über die Runden zu kommen, die meisten durch den Verkauf von Irgendwas - hier natürlich Souvenirs.
    Trotzdem sind die Menschen hier freundlich und wirken zufrieden, laut Ruth sind sie glücklich in ihren Familien und haben die Armut und die politische Situation hingenommen. Sie wollen in Ruhe und Frieden leben und vermeiden Streit und Kämpfe.
    Auf der Straße laufen nicht nur die Menschen, nein auch die Paviane. Ihrem Treiben schauen wir immer wieder mal zu: https://1drv.ms/v/s!AiUv8teodO-roSPto0akoLOcSWl6
    Sie sind allgegenwärtig, selbst an den Wasserfällen haben wir sie gefunden. Auf dem Rückweg werden wir von der Touristenpolizei ein kleines Stück eskortiert, denn in der Nähe der Bahngleise ist der Wildwechsel für Elefanten 🐘 und dort sollen wir nicht stehen bleiben. Wir sehen nur ihre Spuren, andere aus unserer Gruppe haben ein paar Stunden vorher die Tiere auch gesehen. Apropos Bahngleise, zweimal pro Woche fährt je ein historischer Zug mit Dampflock von Victoria Falls (Simbabwe) und Livingston (Sambia) bis zur Mitte der Victoria Falls Bridge zum Sonnenuntergang. Dann kann man bei Mondlicht die Regenbogen am Wasserfall sehen. Da fanden wir toll und wollten das eigentlich mal machen, aber wir sind leider am falschen Tag in der Stadt. Ansonsten wurden wir alle paar Meter von fliegenden Händlern zum Kauf von irgendwelchen Kunstgewerbedingen angesprochen, eigentlich eher bedrängt. Das nervt dann doch nach einer Weile, denn wir können nun mal nicht bei Jedem kaufen und zu seinem Lebensunterhalt beisteuern.
    Der Abstecher zu den Victoriafällen war absolut lohnenswert und ist vermutlich noch beeindruckender bei etwas weniger Wasser.
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  • Day57

    Heute ist so ziemlich unser letzter Tag: eine kurze Fahrt mit erneutem Grenzübergang, dieses Mal von Botswana nach Simbabwe.
    Danach fuhren wir ca. 1h durch den Zambezi Nationalpark, wo wir wieder ein paar Tiere sahen.

    Dann standen wir schließlich vor den gigantischen Viktoriafällen:
    Sie sind zusammen mit den Niagarafällen in Kanada/USA und den Iguazufällen in Argentinien/Brasilien eine der besten Wasserfälle der Welt und ich habe jetzt alle 3 gesehen :)
    Wir sind mit Ende Oktober in der Trockensaison, d.h. gerade die rechte Seite der Fälle hat nicht so viel Wasser - allerdings sind das die besten Vorraussetzungen für die Devil's Pools auf der sambischen Seite, die man sonst von November bis Mai aufgrund des hohen Wasserpegels nicht besuchen kann und was ich am nächsten Tag machen werde.

    Nach dem Besuch der Fälle von der simbabwischen Seite aus (was auch die bessere ist, da man dort alles schön sieht) hieß es dann relaxen am Pool bei diesen tropischen Temperaturen.

    Abends hatten wir dann unser letztes gemeinsames Abendessen bei Azambi mit einem guten Buffet und u.a. Krokodilfleisch, Warzenschwein, Impala sowie Fisch, Huhn und Rind. Mir hat Warzenschwein Pumba sehr gut geschmeckt, v.a. aber das Krokodil - von der Struktur her wie Huhn und vom Geschmack her fischähnlich.
    Dazu gab es afrikanische Musik und Tänze sowie Abschiedsreden - hier ist es im Übrigen sehr teuer; Simbabwe hat aufgrund der instabilen politische und wirtschaftlichen Lage keine eigene Währung mehr, es geht alles in USD und es ist teilweise schwer, an Geld zu kommen ;)

    Today is more or less our last day: a short drive including another border crossing, this time from Botswana into Zimbabwe.
    After that we roughly drove another hour through Zambezi National Park where we could also spot some animals.

    And then we finally stood in front of the gigantic Victoria Falls:
    Together with the Niagara Falls in Canada/USA and the Iguazu Falls in Argentina/Brazil they are amongst the best waterfalls in the world and I have finally seen all 3 of them ;)
    Being end of October we are in the dry season which means that especially the right hand side of the falls does not have a lot of water - but these are the best conditions for the Devil's Pools on the Zambian side which can usually not been visited from November to May because the water level is too high and which I am going to visit the following day.

    After visiting the Falls from the Zimbabwean side (which is also the nicer one as you can see all falls) we then relaxed at the pool with these tropical temperatures.

    In the evening we then had our last dinner as a group at Azambi with a huge buffet including crocodile, pumba, impala as well as fish, chicken and beef. Pumba tasted really nice, but I particularly loved the crocodile - from the texture a bit like chicken but with a rather slightly fish taste. We also had African music and dance as well as farewell speeches - by the way, it is pretty expensive here; Zimbabwe does not longer have an own currency due to the unstable political and economic situation, everything is in USD and it sometimes really is a challenge to get some money out of the ATM ;)
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  • Day39

    Nach fünf Wochen plötzlich wieder allein zu sein ist sehr komisch. Dafür habe ich ein traumhaftes Hotel. Morgen mache ich mich dann auf zu meiner 18stündigen Heimreise.

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