Following a long journey to South Africa, we spent less than 24 hours in a Johannesburg Airport Hotel to recharge our batteries and were whisked away to Victoria Falls via FlyAfrica airlines, where we met up with my buddy Dave and his GF Juliette. Our itinerary was 1 day in Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side of the falls, and then one day in Botswana for some safari action. Conversely, Dave and Juliette spent 2 days in Victoria Falls.
Mid-March is supposed to be the tail-end of the rainy season, so the volume and spray are pretty intense. Even though it didn’t rain for the day we were there, it was still rainy season at the falls. The mist of the falls seems to get you shortly after entering the national park, ruining the majority of your photo opportunities if you’re carrying a nice camera that isn’t weather sealed, but perfect for a go-pro w/ the waterproof casing. Hawkers stand near the falls renting ponchos to tourists looking to make an easy buck. We actually ran into a scuffle with the vendor because we thought he was selling the poncho to us for $3-5, by the time we had finished the 1 mile loop the ponchos were torn to shreds and we were soaked, so we threw them out. Upon coming out of the park the vendor wanted to know where the ponchos were and thought we had rented them, needless to say he wasn’t a happy camper and asked us where we threw out the ponchos so he could fetch the ponchos.
I’ve been to a few of the major waterfalls in the world, Iguazu (From the Argentina and Brazil sides), Niagra (From the US and Buffalo sides), and now Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe side only). All three towns have only one thing going for them, and that’s the falls. They are major tourist traps that are way overpriced. In terms of awe inspiring goodness, I’d rank Iguazu a clear #1, Victoria Falls #2, and Niagra #3 by a hair. For being in Africa, everything was extremely expensive. I believe park entry was $20-$25 USD, and a 1 night stay in a mediocre hotel was $200, a dinner was roughly $30 per person. Conversely, staying in Cape Town in a boutique hotel in a good part of town was $130 a night, and a similar meal would be $15 per person. After seeing Iguazu Falls it’s really tough to compare anything to the sheer magnitude and size of the park, so I was less than impressed.
Early the next morning we were picked up and driven across the border ~2 hours away to Chobe National Park in Botswana. We rented a private river boat along the Chobe River for a safari, at a really affordable rate. It was really cool to experience a safari via the river during the heat of the day, because all the animals made their way to the river to cool down in the hot Africa sun. Since I had already been on a couple of safari’s in Madikwe Game Reserve the previous year, I was stoked to view the animals from an entirely new perspective. What made me even more excited/nervous was this Youtube video that surfaces on the internet only a few months before our trip.
We had a 2.5 hour boat ride and saw hundreds of elephants playing and bathing in the water. In fact these two guys got into a little play fight only a few feet from our boat.
Following our boat safari we took a walk to a nearby grocery store to check out the local fare. I always like checking out supermarkets in foreign countries to see what kind of weird foods I can find, and also gauging the general prices of staple goods. (I’m practicing my skills for International Supermarket Sweep). One thing happened to catch me eye. “Share a Coke With….”
Later in the afternoon it was time for a 4×4 safari with our ranger, Justice. Quite an easy name to remember. We saw what had to have been a couple hundred elephants, as they made their way from the river banks into the hills. They are truly amazing creatures to watch, and we had a blast getting up close to them. We finished the day with a sundowner at the resort on the Chobe River, in what was all-in-all a wonderful day.