Notes From: Zimbabwe

Our next adventure took us North to Zimbabwe. Candace’s love language is waterfalls so surely we had to visit one of the Seven Natural wonders of the world: Victoria Falls.

We’ll break this into four parts:

The Town

Victoria Falls is also the name of a small town on the Zimbabwe side of the river. It’s very obviously built to be a home base for those coming to the falls. 

Our house was nice, save for the many spiders and other crawly things. (I think Samm and Jane floated 2 inches above the ground the whole time.) It was secure though and the staff was very kind and careful of us. 

The location was further from the center of town than I had hoped. If you wanted to go anywhere, you needed to line up a driver to come get you. Luckily, we found a great man named Lemon who was available all the time. We just opened up a tab with him and racked up the rides until we left. 

He brought us to a grocery store in town. These are always my favorite places to explore in new countries. This one was definitely different though. 

In the whole store, I only recognized two brands: Kit Kat and Pringles. But the strange part was that a huge percentage of the store was just raw ingredients. Produce, flours, spices, oats, etc. It felt like the game Pit or Oregon Trail or something. 

In any regard, we didn’t eat much while there. We did pay a lot though…

The total was in Zimdollar, the old Zimbabwe currency which they moved away from a few years ago. It fluctuated too much. 

They now use and prefer US Dollars. You would think this is beneficial for us but it really wasn’t. They charged US rates for Zimbabwe standards most of the time. And when you paid, they would always say, “We don’t have change. If this is the closest you have, pick out some more things until you’ve reached this amount.” 

You felt a little ripped off in the majority of interactions. 

The Falls

The falls were fantastic. It was pretty expensive to enter the park at $50 per person (see above), but when you come all this way, what else are you going to do?

Most of the waterfalls are on the Zambia side so the views are great from this side. It is set up with a walking path and sixteen different perpendicular paths that go to the edge for viewing. Some were incredible (4 and 11) and some were super wet. (12 and 16)

We opted not to buy or rent a poncho so the mist could be part of the experience. It made for a fun time. 

On the way back to the exit, we took the path away from the falls and this turned out to be a good choice. Without knowing it, we were totally surrounded by little monkeys everywhere. They were fun to watch…as soon as we remembered we were the superior primates. They had us outnumbered otherwise. 

I’ve visited the three great falls of the world now: Victoria, Iguazu, and Niagra. They each have their benefits but Iguazu is the favorite. 

The Airport

They have a new airport for all the flights full of tourists. It actually opened in late 2019 but, as we all know, there wasn’t a lot of tourism for a while. Because of the long pause they are still working out the processes there. 

You can purchase visas on arrival, but it’s all done by hand, pen and paper. It’s also $30 each for a single entry. It takes a while. 

When we left, it was so bad it was funny. From a broken check-in process that needed to be done by hand to going through five different security checks it was quite the ordeal. By the time we were in the air, we were an hour late and all pretty hungry. Luckily all was smooth from that point on. We had a night’s layover back in South Africa so we had a great meal, a great hotel, and a great night’s sleep. 

The Advice

If you are in the area and want to see the incredible sights, Victoria Falls itself is a beautiful park and worth a visit. It’s a quick flight from Johannesburg after all. 

If we had it to plan again, I think I would stay right in the center of the downtown and probably plan on just one night. You can easily get up in the morning and see the falls in a couple hours then be to the airport in time for all the afternoon flights out. 

If that sounds like you’re just checking a box by seeing the falls, perhaps it is. Sometimes it’s ok to just go chasing waterfalls. 

Notes From” is a series where I share observations from recent adventures. You can read more of these in the “Notes From” category.