DAY 3: Elephant Sands, Botswana to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
After an early wake up, we all slept in the van as we drove to the border between Botswana and Zimbabwe. Because we left so early we were through and at our campsite by about 9am! We had breakfast and then drove to Victoria Falls.
Victoria Falls is a long stretch of falling water. We started on the left side and walked along the paths to the right. The only way to see it all at one time is to fly over. They were incredible. Some parts were too misty to see anything but others you could see the falls clearly and they were breathtaking. So strong and powerful and loud! We got drenched! Luckily I brought a poncho. At one point the edge was very flat and tried to lay down to look at the river below but you couldn’t see anything through the mist!
We left the falls and spent some time at camp before the whole group (including our guide David) headed out on a sunset boat cruise on the Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and Zambia. It was fun to hang out with the group on a beautiful river as the sun set. We saw some hippos but they only showed the top of their heads outside of the water. As we were pulling in to dock, we saw a crocodile as well!
DAY 4: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
My initial plan for the day was to do an elephant back ride and evening game drive. This wasn’t available so I decided to go white water rafting with the rest of my group and still go for a game drive in the afternoon. I wasn’t really interested in white water rafting to be honest, but I’m so glad I went, it was incredibly fun!
We started by hiking down the side of a gorge 700 meters down rickety steps and sliding rocks to the Zambezi River. It was so worth it! (One guy also rafting splipped and cut his leg He still went rafting but needed a few stitches after) At the bottom was an incredible view of the river, with Zimbabwe towering over on one side and Zambia on the other. We went through grade 3, 4, and 5 rapids and I surprised myself how much fun I had, and how thrilling the rapids were!
Because the water was a bit low, the rapids that were more tame we were able to swim through instead of going down on the raft. IT WAS SO FUN! They pulled up to the side and lead us to a ledge where we could jump off a cliff into the river. I was all for it! I ended up being the first to jump and was able to watch all the people behind me just as well! All but 2 (out of 10) did it.
From there, it was just fun, rafting, swimming, and fooling around. When the rafts pulled up beside each other at the end the people from my raft ran into the other raft and started pushing them out. It was wonderful… until we had to climb back up the gorge. About 700 meters again, straight up along a zigzagging path. It was awful. Lunch was waiting for us at the top. The only thing keeping me going. About halfway up one of the guys working there saw my struggle and walked with me, holding my had and pulling me up. So embarrassing, but much needed! Surprisingly I was one of the first ones up. We enjoyed our lunch then went back to town. The group stopped at the office to look at the professional rafting photos but I was worried about making my game drive so someone drove me the few minutes to my rest camp.
I ran into the office to see if I’d missed it. They had been there but went to the rafting office to go get me! I ran to change quickly and grab my camera then met them for my game drive. I was so thankful they waited! It was myself, a woman named Annicka from Sweden, and our guide Cedric. We went to a private game farm called Stanley & Livingston. We drove in an open vehicle and moseyed along, looking for animals.
We had two things working against us. 1) At 3pm. Most animals are hiding from the heat, lounging about, not very visible. 2) The vegetation was VERY thick, se even if an animal was right in front of us, it would be difficult to spot. Close to the start, we saw zebras (my favourite) and giraffes (which Annicka was excited about) then we didn’t see anything for over an hour. In this time, Cedric was telling us about animal tracks and poop and how to track the animals using them. We made a turn and I saw a track and thought to myself, ‘that looks really fresh’, I looked up and about 10 feet infront of me was a black rhino, cooling off in a mud bath. I was speechless. Black Rhino are rare. This park is over 600 acres and has 8 Black Rhino. They feed on trees so are hard to spot through the bush. They offer game drives specifically to track them because they’re hard to see on regular game drives. We turned the engine off and watched him for about ten minutes until he disappeared in the bush. I was so giddy!
We continued on, and saw some elephants and buffalo through thick trees. We could hear them more than we could see them. As we drove out we saw another giraffe, a tortoise on the road, and then we turned again and there was the dominant male black rhino, a female, and a baby! I could have cried! Again we turned the engine off and watched them. I was actually speechless. Sweet Annicka turned to me after and said it was a good thing I was late or we might not have seen them!
We drove back to camp and arrived just before 7pm. A security guard stopped me and told me my group had gone to Mama Africa for dinner. Since they were already there, I just turned around and went to meet them. I had a blast telling them about my game drive! After such an adventure filled day, I decided to continue and ordered crocodile for dinner. It tasted kind of like a mix between chicken and fish and I actually really liked it. To top off my wonderful day, I ordered chocolate cake! After that, Eleanor and I returned to camp. I spent some time using the wifi (such luxury!) and then went to bed early.