Friday, June 24

Zimbabwe - Recuperation & Adventure in Vic Falls

Mary: We have been camping at Shoestrings Backpackers in Vic Falls, which is very reasonable ($5 pppn) and offers everything you need, with a great bar, pizza restaurant and internet. We caught up on emailing, washing, sleeping in, etc.  It was great to recuperate a bit and catch up with ourselves after covering quite a lot of distance quickly. Vic Falls town is nice, but definitely a tourist town – everyone wants to sell you something, from a white water rafting package to the old Trillion ZIm Dollars notes (for one dollar). Apparently wildlife including elephant, lions etc regularly wanders through town. We saw a few mangy looking warthogs and baboons but nothing bigger. One first for us which had us completely dumbstruck, was the view of a Warthog three-some with 3 warthogs in succession attempting to mount each other! We drove past all this at speed and unfortunately didn’t have the camera ready.
Brett: We went and threw ourselves off the gorge today. Mary did the Flying Fox – you run off a platform and glide across the gorge super man style about 90m above the Zambezi river. She was nervous, but absolutely loved it. I did the Zip Line which drops down towards the river at 100km/h – it was hugely exhilarating, but not as scary as I thought it would be - I think I should do the gorge swing next time (70m free fall which is more than bunge jumping, but you are sitting upright and there is no jerk at the bottom) – we watched somebody do it and it really did look hectic. Unfortunately it is the wrong season for decent white water rafting – there is too much water, so they are currently running it as a half day for pretty much the same money as a full day in the dry season. It also include less than a third of the rapids and they are flatter. We really wanted to go, but we have done the rapids before and would rather come back again at the low water season and get more value for money.
We created a stir by cycling around on our Chinese fold up bikes - everyone in town was fascinated and wanted to know where they could get one for themselves, and many people thought they were children’s bikes! We even had a few people ask to buy them off us, and the staff at Shoestrings were pretty keen on them too – one of the gardeners commented that they were the most beautiful bikes he had ever seen :)
The Vic Falls Bridge is an interesting old bridge. To build it more than 100 years ago, a hand drawn cable car (something like Mary’s Flying Fox) was set up by firing a rocket across the gorge with a thin cable attached, then repeatedly pulling thicker and thicker cables across until the final one was secured and a big bucket style cable car set up. The bridge was built in England as a sort of Mechano set and shipped / trucked to the site. It was assembled as two canter-levers that were joined in the middle and the bucket cable car was used to carry every part across, including railway tracks and a locomotive so they could keep building the railway without waiting for the bridge to be finished. Cecil John Rhodes vision was for the bridge and railway to reach Cairo, but it never got further than DRC.  Mary has already made me promise to take her from Cape Town through Vic Falls on the train (apparently it is called the Shongolola Express), staying over at the (luxury) Vic Falls Hotel at the end and having their High Tea.
The Vic Falls National Park is fantastic. With so much water flowing, the falls are more spectacular than when we saw them from the Zambian side 10 years ago. The views of the huge volumes of water flowing are amazing and as we walked along the path, the mist created from the falls built up until it became a heavy rain and drenched us. 
Before leaving, we filled up our 130 litre tank and the 2x 20 litre jerry cans as we had heard that petrol in Zambia (nearly $2 per litre) is more expensive than Zimbabwe ($1.50 per litre). It seems strange to be doing it this way after all the stories that getting fuel in Zim was so difficult only a few years ago. 

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