The call of Africa: Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls remains one of Africa’s most
impressive attractions

Anna Montali

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It was a hot and beautiful day when we landed at Livingstone Airport in Zambia and even though the building is somewhat outdated, it left us comfortable in the thought that we were still in Africa. It’s just a short distance to the bridge that crosses over the Zambezi River into Zimbabwe, where we would be staying for a few days.

Driving slowly over the bridge you could hear the rumbling noise of the water plummeting down into the gorge below and, if you looked closely, you could see the mist rising between the bushes and trees. The sound is unbelievable and I was excited to be part of this trip, as this was my first visit to the falls.

A short drive from the Victoria Falls is the Rani Resort boutique hotel, The Stanley and Livingstone. This historical hotel, and our home for the next few days, is situated in the private Nakavango Estate, surrounded by 6 000 acres of private game reserve.

We were welcomed into an elegant ambience created by traditional yet stylish Victorian furnishings. Finely crafted woodwork and paintings portraying David Livingstone’s expeditions adorned the walls, and the refurbished early African colonial style takes you back in time to a more romantic era. My room was a comfortable and spacious blend of old and new influences with a Victorian touch but with all the modern amenities. From my patio I had a view of lush and well-maintained tropical gardens, providing serenity from the hustle and bustle of my everyday life in Johannesburg. Just meters away from the African bush was a glorious pool where we relaxed.

Top 10 things to do while visiting Victoria Falls:

1 Victoria Falls, or as the locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning ‘the smoke that thunders’, is an experience that I could only have imagined. Proclaimed a World Heritage Site, the falls are one of the seven natural wonders of the world and, at 1 708m wide and 108m high, it is the largest falling curtain of water on the planet. I could see across from Zimbabwe to Zambia as the falls plummeted into the Zambezi River. This majestic water has a spray that rises over 400m, sometimes even higher. It is breathtaking.

2 Footpath trails allow you to see the falls approximately 70m away and you can see 80 percent of the falls from the Zimbabwean side. The best time of the year for a perfect experience is during the dry season from May to October; the rainy season makes it impossible to see the falls through the rising mist.

3 Take a Zambezi cruise and enjoy a traditional African band beating on their drums as you slowly travel downstream on the river.

4 The Nakavango Private Game Reserve is accessible to four-wheel drive vehicles only. The drive takes you into beautiful teak forests and over Kalahari sands to find African wildlife. There is also a night drive to view nocturnal animals and you can enjoy a bush dinner under the African sky while listening to the sounds of the animals as they approach the waterhole.

5 Bungee jump from the Zambezi River bridge, which has a magnificent view of the falls. With the falls as a backdrop, the 111m jump towards the Zambezi River generates an incredible adrenalin rush. Alternatively, you can dare to step off the edge of the bridge and swing out. This is a smooth and comfortable ride for those who want to skip the bungee jump.

6 Flight of Angels, helicopter and microlite tours are not for the fainthearted, but they offer spectacular encounters of the falls and surrounding areas with a fair chance of seeing lots of wildlife.

7 Elephant-back safaris let you experience a day in the life of an elephant and are truly unforgettable.

8 Walk with the lions in a thrilling experience that allows you to come into contact with the king of the jungle in its natural habitat.

9 Rhino viewing – take a jeep safari through the park to view the black rhinos. Their horns have been cut down to protect the rhinos from poachers, and the safari is an incredibly moving close-up experience with these prehistoric creatures.

10 Take a horse trail for a memorable experience of Africa as you get up close to the wildlife.

Anna travelled to the Victoria Falls courtesy of Rani Resorts, Wild Horizons and Flight Centre.

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