I WOULD have loved to join my family and friends for the Christmas holidays last year, but due to the nature of my job, I had to work.
But that did not stop me from planning my own special holiday in Victoria Falls.
I’ve been to this “adventure capital” of Africa countless times before, but I never had a chance to be adventurous so I decided to revisit the destination to partake in the wide array of wildlife and water adventures on offer.
I checked in at the Elephant Hills Resort which was quite ideal because my suite had two balconies with scenic views of the “smoke that thunders”, the Zambezi River and the hotel’s pool deck.
There was also a well-stocked bar fridge with a variety of drinks –whisky, brandy, lagers, ciders and non-alcoholic beverages – so there was no need to call room service for drinks.
I therefore had a drink while relaxing by the balcony watching birds fly and also admiring the Zambezi River.
I had been advised by the hotel authorities to keep my balcony doors closed at all times and figured out why after I had a mini monkey attack.
I heard a bottle drop and thought someone had entered the room just to discover that a friend had visited and was taking fruits. That’s when I knew the hotel had a lot of housekeepers.
Monkeys and baboons in Vic Falls love fruits and will at any given opportunity invade guest rooms to get fruits.
If you are one who enjoys their food, you will definitely be spoiled for choice at the resort, especially if you happen to come across the active food and beverages manager who constantly runs around the hotel’s restaurants ensuring guests are well-treated to a wide array of dishes.
The resort offers a wide variety of Western and traditional dishes including crocodile, impala, eland, buffalo, warthog, ostrich, fish, white water prawns, pork, Tonga chicken, beef fillet to sizzling snails all served from the Samukele and Kasibi restaurants. Main meals range from $16 to $20.
I have stayed in quite a number of hotels, but what was different about this one was that as a guest you could tell the chef how you wanted him to prepare your meal and he would do just that.
For those who want to keep fit, especially after eating quite a lot, the hotel has two tennis courts, two squash courts, a swimming pool and a state-of-the-art gymnasium for guests to work out. Ladies can also be treated for massages, facials and aromatherapy in the hotel’s spa and beauty centre.
One can never say they were in Vic Falls without doing one or two activities which are exclusive to Vic Falls. Fortunately for me who was on a mission, there was no need to personally do the bookings for the activities as the hotel had tour operators who facilitate activities for guests ranging from the “Flight of the Angels”, the adrenaline rush of bungee jumping from the Victoria Falls Bridge to relaxed, but very different, game viewing from the back of an elephant.
My first activity was the 25 minute Zambezi Spectacular (3 in 1 flight) on the Shearwater Adventures helicopter and it was amazing, first because it was my first time on a helicopter and second because I got to see a better view of the majestic Victoria Falls from the top.
The scenes of the falls were so lovely and I understood why David Livingstone was quoted saying: “Scenes so lovely they must have been gazed upon by Angels in their flight”.One will have to part with $265 for this activity.
Bunjee jumping was next on my to-do list and I have no
regrets parting with $135 for it as it was definitely in its own league. Bungee jumping is not for everyone, but there’s no denying it’s an adrenaline rush. I was never an adrenaline junkee, but I guess I am one now as I for the first time took the 111m jump off the Vic Falls bridge. I don’t remember much but the words 5-4-3-2-1 Bunjee ! ! !
The jump takes you head first into the Batoka Gorge, where white-water rafters below try desperately to stay upright as they ride through grade 5 rapids. I have to say, it was really worth jumping, more for the feeling of elation after the jump, than the actual jump.
If jumping upside down is not your cup of tea, you can try the Bridge swing, or even the zip line (popularly known as the foofie slide) across the same gorge.
The next day, I went for the Elephant back ride where I felt like a true tourist as I found myself on the back of a Shearwater safari truck with Australian tourists heading towards Stanley and Livingstone Private Game Reserve.
This was my first time to board a safari truck – and I had no idea there were seat belts on the truck which we were told to buckle on for our safety considering that we were driving in the bush.
For $140, this was a good choice of activity because you get to do some game viewing and view a wide array of flora and fauna along the way. It was a great feeling being so close to one of the “big five” and actually riding one.
Together with the guide, we rode on a 13—year—old elephant named Laduma. She took us on a smooth game viewing ride for about 45 minutes. It felt like horse riding, but only better.
Being up close to an elephant in the bush is a moving experience but being on top of one is an ideal way to be a part of the wild, and see it from best advantage.
Afterwards I had an elephant interaction where I had the rare opportunity to feed Laduma as a way of showing appreciation for the ride. It was a bit scary at first, watching the elephant’s trunk taking pellets from my palms, but I later adjusted and started enjoying the activity. It was quite a unique experience, one which you can only do at a “world wonder”.
As they say, save the last for best, Crocodile cage-diving at the Elephants Walk shopping centre was the last activity on my list. I almost chickened out at the last hour till I was told that no prior diving or swimming experience was required to take part in this $55 activity. Upon arrival, I was given a scuba diving gear which I slowly changed into as I was deciding if I really wanted to dive or not. Eventually, I psyched up and found myself locked up in a cage being lowered deep down to a “crocs-only” territory.
Unbelievably, I was underwater for about 30 minutes breathing via a scuba regulator interacting with crocodiles.
Not only did I have the opportunity to be close to crocodiles, but I also got to feed the 3-4 metre crocs. If you are brave enough — you can even have a bit of a tug-o-war with them. I panicked though at one time after realising the crocs were right behind me with their mouths wide open.
Naturally, I wanted to scream, but quickly realised and remembered the scuba regulator was connected to my mouth therefore I could not afford to scream. This indeed was the highlight of my holiday.
What I found disheartening though during my stay in the resort town was the fact that the activities were expensive.
Pictures and a video for most activities cost about $30, a price which I feel is too high, especially if you want to re-live the experiences and show off to your friends.