I’m looking forward to my next adventure: hiking the Whale Trail. I’m a little apprehensive that I’ll be the weakest link and that I won’t be able to keep up with the rest of the guys.

Here are the last of the Victoria Falls photos.

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Flowers - Victoria Falls

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VicFallsEdgeThere are times where you spend years dreaming of a country, palace or monument. Some place magical and far faraway. The type of place where unicorns eat straight from your hands; and all the men are taller than you. You trace the outlines of train routes and flight paths, and you memorise the names of unpronounceable cities. You save up oodles of cash and rack up all your courage to make this a reality; only to arrive at your destination and end up disappointed. (Here’s looking at you Eiffel Tower.)

 

The Victoria Falls was not one of those times. I girly squealed the minute I laid eyes on the falls. The sound, the rainbow, the light spray of water on your skin, was simply too much for me to contain my delight.

 

The boring stuff

I went to the falls at the end of July, when water levels of fairly low and didn’t feel that it was necessary to hire a raincoat when visiting the falls. I got slightly wet, but the spray from the falls was relief in the heat.

 

I visited the falls from the Zambian side and Zimbabwean side. The entry fee from the Zimbabwean side was $30 and $20 on the Zambian side. I definitely think that the view from the Zimbabwean side is better.

 

On the Zambian side, I walked over to the edge of the falls with a guide. There is a warning sign stating that one should only ever walk to the edge with an official guide. There are also jagged, little rocks at the edge of the river to stop people from doing stupid things and walking towards the edge.

 

As a South African I didn’t have to pay an entry fee to cross over the Zimbabwean and Zambian borders.

 

I wish that I’d spent more time in Victoria Falls. I wish that I’d done a daytrip to Chobe National Park. (The price I paid for the 15 minute helicopter ride $165 was the same price as a 10 hour daytrip to Chobe. I do not regret the helicopter ride.) I wish that I’d hiked to the very bottom of the falls. I wish that I’d had High Tea at The Victoria Falls Hotel.

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Victoria Falls - Zim side

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The original plan was to have High Tea at The Victoria Falls Hotel. I use the term “plan” lightly. By plan I mean that someone suggested it and I thought it was a good idea. I took no steps to bring this to fruition. I did no research. I did not jot off a polite query to Professor Google. And as a consequence I have no idea how much High Tea costs, or what time it is scheduled.

 

In the end, I popped into the hotel on the very day I was to fly out. I walked through the lush grounds overlooking the falls, I snapped pictures of everything that took my fancy, and then proceeded to order the least expensive thing on the menu. I ordered the Eton Mess, a scrumptious dessert of meringue, cream and strawberries. At $10, I can assure you that I scrapped every ounce of cream from that damn bowl.

 

Anyway, here are some pictures of the hotel.

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Side note: The manageress at the hotel was an absolute doll. She showed me around the grounds and stated that the best time to visit the hotel is at sunrise or sunset. Next time!

My credit card statement finally arrived and I’ve spent approximately R14 000 on my four day trip to Vic Falls.

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Below is a short breakdown of my travel expenses:

  • R7 567 for return flights from Cape to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Tickets purchased via the Travelstart website.
  • R235 on a shuttle from my apartment to the airport.
  • $30 (R 397) for a taxi from the Vic Falls airport to the falls
  • $30 entry fee to the falls on the Zimbabwean side.
  • $5 dollars (R80) for a smoothie at the Rainforest Café.
  • $10 (R133) for a taxi from the Zambian border to my hostel.
  • $20 (R 265) entry fee to falls on Zambian side.
  • R200 “tip” for accepting the offer of an unofficial guide to take me to the edge of the falls.
  • $65 (R887) for a sunset cruise. Fondly referred to as the “booze cruise” as the trip included free beverages, snacks and dinner. Note that the vegetarian fare is a rather sad affair (baked potato, coleslaw and a green salad.)
  • $165 (R2 438) for a 15 minute helicopter ride. I was lucky enough to be upgraded to a 30 minute flight.
  • $10 for an Eton Mess at the Victoria Falls Hotel.
  • $15 (R200) for a night in an 8 bed mixed dorm at Jollyboys. The free WIFI was absolutely terrible at this hostel.
  • $12 (R160) for a night in a 16 mixed dorm Jollyboys.
  • $14 (R186) for a night in a 6 man dorm at Livingstone Backpackers.

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Photograph taken on the “booze cruise”.

Regrets

In the end I ran out of time, and I would have loved to have gone on a daytrip from Zambia to Chobe National Park in Botswana. Next time!

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About a month or two ago, I booked a plane ticket to Victoria Falls. I didn’t do much research before booking the ticket.

 

I booked the ticket because I wanted to escape the Cape Town winter and craved the warmth of the sun on my skin. I booked the ticket because I couldn’t get the idea that it has been almost a month since I last visited a new country. I booked the ticket because for the longest time ever I had stared at a pamphlet of the Victoria Falls Marathon on my fridge. I booked the ticket because Victoria Falls Airport is only a 45 minute flight from Johannesburg International. I booked the ticket because I had the money.

 

If I’d done the research I would have known that there is more than one way to fly to Victoria Falls. I flew from Cape Town to Victoria Falls Airport in Zimbabwe, via Johannesburg. If I’d done my research I’d have known that I could have flown to Victoria Falls via Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport in Livingstone, Zambia. If I’d known this I would have checked flight prices for both airports and might have scored a better deal.

 

If I’d done my research then I’d have known that South African’s don’t have to pay any visa fees for Zambia or Zimbabwe.

 

If I’d done my research I’d have known that the walk down to the falls is closed on the Zimbabwean side.

 

(Note: Even though I didn’t know any of the above-mentioned facts I still visited both sides of the falls.)

 

Here are some pictures taken on my first day of the trip.
At present, the data will only be able for viewing from the interactive map. Please let me know if we can make this information available for download too.
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From left to right:

  1. Sunset over the Zambezi River.
  2. Hippos seen from a safe distance.
  3. Me standing at the edge of Victoria Falls, on the Zambian side.

On Friday, 22 June, hours before I was to board my plane from Cape Town to Victoria Falls Airport, the fear and anxiety I had felt when I first booked my tickets, had not dissipated. My imaginative mind kept making a detailed list of all the things that could go wrong.

  • My shuttle would arrive late and I would miss my flight. (And if I were to be honest, I would admit that there was a little part of me that was hoping this would happen. A “real” excuse not to do something that scared me.)
  • There would be some problem at customs and I’d be forced to fly back home.
  • There would be another National Shutdown in Zimbabwe and I wouldn’t find anyone willing to take me to the Zambian border.
  • I’d have to argue with every taxi driver about the fare.
  • I’d get lost and wouldn’t know how to get back to my hostel.
  • I’d be underwhelmed and disappointed by the sight of the falls.
  • I’d be painfully and achingly lonely. That after spending only a few hours in Victoria Falls, I’d want to flee home.

 

These negative thoughts would occasionally be offset by the highlights reel of previous travel experiences. I remembered each an every stranger, who helped me when I lost or didn’t quite understand how to use the subway. I remembered the old Turkish guy, who gave me a lift to the bus station on his scooter, placing my unwieldy suitcase firmly between his legs. I remember taking a “taxi” in Mozambique. The taxi was a bakkie*, with a canopy made of wood. And I remember marveling at the men, who stood on the edge of the bakkie, arms clinging to the wooden frame. And I remember wondering about safety standards of this particular automobile. But only briefly. When we started moving and I felt the wind in my hair, this momentary doubt was replaced by a feeling of being free.

 

And I remembered all of these things, and I smiled. For a moment, the fear and anxiety I felt about travelling, was assuaged.

*Bakkie is also known as a pick-up truck in other parts of the world …

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Photos taken on Saturday. From left to right.

  1. Chocolate fondue at the Bastille Day Festival in Franschoek.
  2. My beautiful and stylish friend.
  3. Formation. Birds in the distance. Rising sun.

Currently reading, “My fight your fight” by Ronda Rousey.

Life is a fight from the minute you take your first breath to the moment you exhale your last. You have to fight the people who say it can never be done. You have to fight the institutions that put up the glass ceilings that must be shattered. You have to fight your body when it tells you it is tired. You have to fight your mind when doubt creeps in. You have to fight systems that are put in place to disrupt you and obstacles that are put in place to discourage you. You have to fight because you can’t count on anyone else fighting for you. And you have to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves. To get anything of real value, you have to fight for it.

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From left to right:

  1. Painting I saw at First Thursdays
  2. Pretty flowers on Lion’s Head
  3. Carrot cake flavoured ice-cream from The Creamery

It’s been nearly two weeks since I’ve booked my tickets to Victoria Falls International Airport and since then I haven’t done much in the way of research and planning. I haven’t booked accommodation, arranged for any tours or check that my yellow fever certification is still current, which is worrisome considering that I board said flight in less than two weeks. Instead I’ve spent the last two weeks feasting (Ramadaan just ended), teaching myself some Python scripting, and being paralyzed by fear.

 

You see, days after I booked my plane tickets to Victoria Falls (which is situated in Zimbabwe), I would learn via Twitter of the national shutdown protests in Zimbabwe. This ultimately leaves me with the following questions:

  • Is the Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls safe to travel to?
  • Is it ethical to travel to a country where a majority of the citizens are clearly fed up with the current government?

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Anyway, I’m currently reading “Into Thin Air“.

Here’s an extract from the novel:

“Straddling the top of the world, one foot in China and the other in Nepal, I cleared the ice from my oxygen mask, hunched a shoulder against the wind, and stared absently down at the vastness of Tibet. I understood on some dim, detached level that the sweep of earth beneath my feet was a spectacular sight. I’d been fantasizing about this moment, and the release of emotion that would accompany it, for many months. But now that I was finally here, actually standing on the summit of Mount Everest, I just couldn’t summon the energy to care.

It was early in the afternoon of May 10, 1996. I hadn’t slept in fifty-seven hours. The only food I’d been able to force down over the preceding three days was a bowl of ramen soup and a handful of peanut M&Ms. Weeks of violent coughing had left me with two separated ribs that made ordinary breathing an excruciating trial. At 29, 028 feet up in the troposhere, so little oxygen was reaching my brain that my mental capacity was that of a slow child. Under the circumstances, I was incapable of feeling much of anything except cold and tired.”

Shot from above. Durban 2016
Two things I’m proud of:

Booking plane tickets to Victoria Falls

Ever since completing the Comrades Ultra, I’ve been plagued by the relentless question, “Now what?” After hours of contemplation and staring at my 2016 bucket list, I decided that I needed to travel.

 

Picking a destination was easy. I wanted to go away almost immediately and didn’t want to go away for too long, a week max. These two factors meant that I had to select a country that didn’t have lengthy AND expensive visa process (hi America), and had a maximum flight time of 8 hours. (If I was only planning to spend 7 days in a country, I wasn’t going to spend a large proportion of it cramped up in a plane.)

 

After briefly considering Malawi (for all of 5 minutes), I eventually settled on Vic Falls.

 

Actually booking the flight took A LOT more time. For a week or two, I kept visiting the Travel Start website on a daily basis. I’d type the dates into the search engine and then I’d sigh. I did this every single day. And every single day I’d say, “Tomorrow.” I’m not sure what exactly I was waiting for. I guess I was afraid of making a mistake. I was afraid that Vic Falls might turn out to be a disaster; that I’d be underwhelmed; that I’d be lonely; that something would crop up and I just wouldn’t be able to handle it. And then I remembered feeling THIS exact scared before booking my flight to Turkey. And yes, there were times when I was incredibly lonely, scared and confused. But there were also some beautiful moments; moments that I will cherish forever. So in the hopes that I will have some beautiful and memorable moments in Zimbabwe and Zambia, I booked the damn ticket.

 

Frame the Instagram pictures I printed 6 months ago

Nuff said.

 

One things I’m grateful for:

My sister and her unflinching honesty.

A few weeks ago, I was a little too heavy handed with the blush. My sister’s the only one who said anything about it. She didn’t sugarcoat the truth. She didn’t say maliciously. She said it, because it needed to be heard. I need more people like her.

 

My intention for July is:

I read the following quote recently and it rung true, “I opened my mouth, almost said something. Almost. The rest of my life might have turned out differently if I had. But I didn’t.” My intention for June is to speak up, ask questions and be interested.

 

I also plan to take a SHIT TON of photos on my trip to Vic Falls. I plan to document everything – the food, people, conversations and adventures.

Durban 2016 - Ushaka

Crossing the finish line of the Comrades Marathon, I was filled with sheer relief, immense accomplishment and astonishment. I couldn’t quite believe that I’d managed to achieve my goal; that I’d battled exhaustion, despair, self-doubt and minor cramping to finish THE FUCKING COMRADES in 11 hours. Days later I would think back to THAT moment, the moment when I actually crossed the finish line and I’d smile like a lunatic.

And even though that feeling of accomplishment has yet to diminish, it was soon followed by the question, “What next?” I’d started this year with the simple resolve to make this year amazing, which meant that other than improving on my running, I needed to travel. So after visiting the Travel Start website on a daily basis for the last week, I finally entered my credit card details and booked that damn plane ticket.

More details to follow soon.

Anyway, here are a couple of links to my favourite travel posts and Instagram accounts.

  1. Nasrin Suleiman posts pictures of her life in beautiful Zanzibar.
  2. Olivia Rae Jame’s bachelorette party in Harbour Island.
  3. 9 American habits I lost when I moved to Germany.
  4. Hoping that I can one day tick Bolivia off my bucket list.
  5. Hailey Wist is currently in Italy at the moment.
  6. Truth Slinger normally posts pictures of his home country, Kenya, but he’s currently in Iceland.