We flew to Zambia and were greeted by Sam, the lovely lady who runs Jollyboys Backpackers hostel. This was a great place to stay for groups, singles or couples of any age. Its lively social area was the first thing I noticed, made complete with a fully stocked bar and delicious menu (including fry ups!!). The staff directed us to a bank and helped us catch a cab which was only about 60 kwacha to get to the falls. We paid for entry into the national park and followed the many winding trails in the midday heat to seek different angles of the incredible Victoria falls. It somehow seemed smaller than I had imagined. I watched in wonder as the water tumbled over the edge and streamed down to the water below. It is a sight not to be missed for anyone travelling in Africa.
From the walk, we could see a bridge which joins Zambia and Zimbabwe. I recognised it as the bungee bridge. I had looked into this after loving doing the canyon swing last year in Queenstown. We crossed the bridge to take a closer look. We left our driver’s licenses at the desk in exchange for a bridge pass; we were glad that we had these with us so we didn’t have to leave our passports.
We reached the middle of the bridge but no one else seemed to be doing it. We waited for about half an hour and I was so close to saying “I’m going to do it” but couldn’t quite bring myself to. After what seemed like hours, a Spanish man arrived. He strolled right up, got strapped in and leapt of the edge. I was sold. It worked for him so that’s good enough for me! Before I lost my nerve I paid up and felt this blur of adrenaline whizz over me as I tried to keep calm. A group of about 50 high school children had appeared out of nowhere and I had an audience, fronted by Sarah and Nikki. The men walked me to the edge, told me to stiffen my arms and leap as far as I could “to avoid injury”. I was like seriously? You’re telling me that now?! So ignoring everything my body was saying to me I held out my arms, bent my knees and listened only to my bungee men, who shouted:
THREE TWO ONE BUNGEEEEEE!
I screamed and leapt as far forward as my little legs would allow. I pointed my toes, reached out my arms and was flying down toward the beautiful Victoria falls. I felt my rope catch (and was relieved it had worked!) and let out a yell! I didn’t know which way was up or which way was down, but I opened my eyes and marvelled at my upside down view, desperately trying not to move my feet and I felt like I was losing my trainers. I forced myself to keep my eyes open and do my best the take in the view. It was incredible.
After a few jerky bounces I began to feel the blood rush to my head as a man was wired down to pull me back up. He and two others helped me get safely back on to the lower level of the bridge. Once I had found my feet, I walked along the bridge alone (except for a whole troupe of monkeys!) to the Zimbabwe side of the bridge where I was greeted by several cheering African locals. I was so proud that I’d managed to control my fears and challenge myself in the most ridiculous of ways. A day later, after she too had conquered her nerves, my friend Sarah also took the plunge and did the bungee.
After Sarah’s jump, we took a tour called ‘Under the Spray’. We hiked down one of the paths we had seen the day before to get to the water’s edge. This was made tricky by the paddles we had to carry and the rocks we had to scramble across. After a challenging paddle which was upstream and against the current, we got to a place sheltered by rocks to ‘dock’ the raft.
But these challenges were nothing against the slippery surfaces of the sharp, uneven rocks we were about to climb.
We relied heavily on our guides to lead the way. I was surprised to find that I didn’t slip too much and actually felt quite confident. My real issue was when there was a big step up or down that my little legs couldn’t quite reach. Our guides were very good at yanking me up and supporting Sarah who felt quite uneasy about the climb. They did the climb bare footed, but we chose to drench our walking shoes instead and it was definitely the right choice for us.
When we got to the desired point of Victoria Falls we could finally appreciate its immense power.It thundered down on our backs unevenly, drenching us in seconds. We sat there for a while enjoying not only the view, but the feelings of being under the spray. Every now and then, we would be immersed by a particularly forceful gush of water. It was intense, literally breathtaking and was yet another unforgettable African experience. This is another activity I would highly recommend!
We decided to allow ourselves one last treat in Zambia. We paid 165 rand each for a helicopter flight. It was 100% worth every last cent. The bird’s eye view of the falls was the only way I truly grasped the sheer immensity of this natural wonder. As if the excitement of getting in a helicopter wasn’t enough I even sat up front with the pilot! I cannot think of words strong, beautiful or great enough to portray quite how utterly stunning the aerial view was. We rose about 8000 feet over the Zambian side and flew across to the Zimbabwean skies. We watched as a sparkling rainbow fell upon the falls and we circled around admiring from all angles. We soared over some game reserves and saw a herd of buffalo grazing away. I also noticed a crocodile basking in the river and Sarah glanced an elephant out of her window. It was only a 12 minute flight, but we were all amazed by what we saw.
My other Zambian highlight was the many elephant crossings we witnessed. Although I’m still in trouble with the girls for leaping out of our cab to get a better shot of a tiny calf in the trees and a grand old bull crossing the road, it was so worth it and so wonderful to see these animals living freely alongside people, with clear mutual respect for one another.
We were in Zambia for less than three days and with hindsight, we are thrilled that we exhausted our bodies using every second of them. We feel so lucky to have seen Victoria Falls from the skies, the ground, the river and even within and for anyone travelling to the falls I would urge you to do the same!