The other half of my African journey

cptkirk

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I was not sure which heading to file this report under, but I thought I would share some info and pictures for those of you that would like to set up a side trip to see Victoria Falls. After spending so much on airfare to get to South Africa we thought we would like to see more than just the hunting camp.

To start with we relied on Lori Spears to help us arrange this part of our trip. She arranged our plane ride and put us in contact with a very nice young lady name Belinda Cooke of Thomas and Cooke Safari Co. who operates in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Belinda set us up with an itinerary that jammed as much into 3 days as possible. The flights from JHB to Zimbabwe were $650 per person round trip on South African Air. We stayed at a hotel called The Cresta Sprayview($230/night). It is a very nice hotel with a large pool area, restaurants, and bars. The room fee included a pool side buffet style breakfast each morning. There was a nice variety of food so you should find something you like. Day one we flew into Zimbabwe and were transferred to the hotel. We had just enough time for a quick sandwich at the hotel and we were off to see Victoria Falls. We were in the area in late August which is the low water season for the falls. Even so it was a spectacular sight. There is a National Park of sorts there with a paved trail that has 16 different overlooks of different parts of the falls. Lots of rainbows with all the mist in the air. The walk was about a mile and a half but all fairly level so its not too strenuous. There was a little wildlife in the area too.

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After viewing the falls we were off to the Victoria Falls Hotel for supper at the Jungle Junction restaurant. This was a buffet style meal which was absolutely huge. So many choices it was hard to decide what to eat. During dinner there was a singing and dancing performance by a group of the locals.

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Day two was set up for a Chobe River cruise and game drive in Botswana. We got to see many animals and took about 500 pictures. The drive to Botswana was not to long. Getting through the border was a snap as Absolom our guide took our passports and jumped to the head of the line. Absolom was a real bonus for us as he was our driver and guide for most of our excursions in Zimbabwe.

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Dinner on day two was at the Boma House. This was another buffet style meal with a few twists. Everyone is greeted at the door and provided a cloth tunic of sorts to put on. The meal was a pig roasted on an open spit or whatever else you picked from the buffet line. After several cocktails and a good meal they start handing out drums to everyone in the place. With three or four hundred people in the place you can imagine how loud this is going to get. They taught us a few basic rhythms to do and we all got to drum while the singers sang and the dancers danced. It was actually quite fun.

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The morning of Day 3 was a helicopter flight over the Falls. This was a bit pricey at $450 for the wife and I , but i wanted to see the falls from the air. Even in a helicopter I was not able to get the entire width of the falls in a single frame on my camera. The best I could do was 3 or 4 frames linked together.

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We went out shopping in the open market for souvenirs and did some serious bargaining with the locals. They had tons of carvings made from teak wood and stone. We came home with a pile of hand carved and painted bowls and animal carvings. Don't be surprised if these guys try to buy the shirt off your back or the shoes off your feet. These types of items are extremely hard for them to get or afford so they are willing to trade anything in there shops to get them from you. If you have some spare room in a bag bring along some clothing items or shoes to barter with. You can use the bag to bring your treasures home in. Supper was on the mighty Zambezi river on a sundown cruise. I must say Zambezi beer is quite good. The chicken dinner was nothing to brag about but it was okay. We saw a few more animals and got to watch the sun go down on the river. We did get close to the Boma H ouse where we ate dinner the night before. You could here the drums quite well from the river. It was a good way to end our trip with some quiet time to reflect.

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This was a lot to do in 3 days but it was a blast. Everything we did with the room included and all transfers to each item on the itinerary came in at about $2000. We had no worries about transportation because it was all included in the cost. Booze and a few meals were on us as well as the souvenirs we bought. I would highly recommend Belinda and Thomas and Cooke Safaris if you have the desire to take a little side trip like we did.

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James.Grage

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nice,

looks like a great time...
 

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A little tooooo close to that edge for me pal!!!:cautious: That's called the long drop!!:eek: Great pics!!:D
 

buchnerl

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Great pictures @cptkirk no wonder it is referred to as one of the worlds seven wonders. A must see for every visitor to Africa and for a mere $65o round trip per person I cant see why not go there from Johannesburg International.

Thank you for sharing your memories and experiences with us.
 

PeteG

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Thats a super way to end a trip, i'm quite surprise more people dont do little add ons like this. it really is worth it.

The falls are pretty spectacular, in a way it is better to see the falls during the low water season. When the water is high, it is incredible, but you cannot see anything but mist.

We drive down there almost every year, never get tired of the place.
Part of our honeymoon was at the Islands of Siankaba on the Zambian side, from there we did the trip up to Chobe, very enjoyable overall bar a run in with a cheeky young ele.
 

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Dinner on day two was at the Boma House. This was another buffet style meal with a few twists. Everyone is greeted at the door and provided a cloth tunic of sorts to put on. The meal was a pig roasted on an open spit or whatever else you picked from the buffet line. After several cocktails and a good meal they start handing out drums to everyone in the place. With three or four hundred people in the place you can imagine how loud this is going to get. They taught us a few basic rhythms to do and we all got to drum

Did you partake in the local brew, the stuff that looks like it was scooped up from a muddy puddle at the side of the road (thought it tasted like it)? Up there with the Mopani grubs.
 

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Love the Falls picture with the rainbow! Looks like it was a great time.
 

Upton O. Good

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Did a similar tour after my Cape buff hunt a year ago. Great experience. We stayed on a house boat on the Chobe, did a little fishing (should have brought my own equipment), had elephants feeding 5 yards from the boat.

You've posted some really excellent photos that capture the falls, well done.
 

blackdog001blackdog001

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I spent two days in Vic Falls after a buff safari in Zim 15 years ago. Interesting town and well worth the time.

Non-hunting friend of mine stayed at Elephant Hills. After dinner one night, he decided to take a walk around the grounds. As he went to exit the hotel, the doorman asked where he was off to and after my friend told him "Just for a walk", the doorman replied "Sir, you might want to avoid the 14th green. I believe I heard some lions roaring near there".
 

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Great experience. Thanks for sharing.
 

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Glad you and your wife had a good time and got to see and hear the smoke that thunders!

Next time White Water Rafting?:D
 

cptkirk

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Did you partake in the local brew, the stuff that looks like it was scooped up from a muddy puddle at the side of the road (thought it tasted like it)? Up there with the Mopani grubs.

Yes I drank the local brew they were handing out. It was not that bad, a little yeasty tasting but okay. I also earned my official certificate by eating a Mopani worm. When in Rome do as the Romans do! Should have had a beer in my hand for washing that down though.:p
 

cptkirk

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A little tooooo close to that edge for me pal!!!:cautious: That's called the long drop!!:eek: Great pics!!:D


Yes it is a long drop and I did walk right up to the edge for some of the shots. 300 feet from top to bottom. At least I had my feet on solid ground......Not like some other crazies were doing. These nuts were swimming right on the edge.
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cptkirk

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Glad you and your wife had a good time and got to see and hear the smoke that thunders!

Next time White Water Rafting?:D
I would be up for some white water rafting except for one small detail. This guy would be waiting for me when I fall out of the raft.
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Interesting side trip, thanks for the pictures!
 

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Yes it is a long drop and I did walk right up to the edge for some of the shots. 300 feet from top to bottom. At least I had my feet on solid ground......Not like some other crazies were doing. These nuts were swimming right on the edge.View attachment 34006


Glad you had such a great side trip to the falls.

Thanks for sharing your photos with us.

A swim in the devils pool is on my bucket list. I just have to get there when the falls are low.

All the best.
 

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Did you take your guys with you for the safari? and if you did, what did you do with them while you went on the side trip?
 

cptkirk

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Did you take your guys with you for the safari? and if you did, what did you do with them while you went on the side trip?

Yes I had a rifle with me. I left my rifle and some excess baggage in the secure storage area in OR Tambo airport. They charge like 5 dollars per day per item so the cost is minimal. Everything seemed to be fine when we picked up. I did have TSA type locks on all my bags too.
 

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I would be up for some white water rafting except for one small detail. This guy would be waiting for me when I fall out of the raft.View attachment 34007
The biggest problem isn't the crocs, although in ones mind... its trying to stay above the water and not panicking if a whirlpool takes you down.
 

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