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TUESDAY, APRIL 17, 2012:

It took about two hours to get to the Victoria Falls Hotel from the lodge in Kasane, Botswana.
The Victoria Falls Hotel, popularly known as “the grand old lady of the Falls”,
is situated in the Victoria Falls National Park, a world heritage site.

All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

The Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe The Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe The Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe

This legendary hotel is situated overlooking the magnificent Victoria Falls,
one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World. Established in 1904 this gracious colonial-style
hotel is set in lush tropical gardens and epitomizes the romance of grand travel.
The pictures below of the Victoria Falls and Bridge were taken from the lawn of the hotel.
Victoria Falls Mist as seen from the Victoria Falls Hotel Victoria Falls Mist as seen from the Victoria Falls Hotel Victoria Falls Bridge as seen from the Victoria Falls Hotel

10 minute video of the Victoria Falls Hotel.

Tuesday afternoon our local guide, Francis, took us on a walking tour of the falls.
The local name of the falls is Mosi-oa-Tunya meaning “the smoke that thunders."
A little disclaimer about my pictures of the falls, admittedly not my best.
In a lot of cases I had to shoot quickly to keep the camera from getting wet from the considerable spray.
The mist around the falls rendered the auto-focus useless.
Entrance to the Victoria Falls African Dancers at Victoria Falls Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

The Victoria Falls are located on the Zambezi River between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The rainbows over the falls were breathtaking.
Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe Devil's Cataract in Zimbabwe Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

The Victoria Falls are neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, but it is claimed
to be the largest. This claim is based on a width of 5,604 feet and height of 354 feet,
forming the largest sheet of falling water in the world.
Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

At the beginning of the trail we were able to stay relatively dry.
But by the time we got to the end of the trail that was a completely lost effort.
My umbrella was of no use since the mist (more like a down pour) came in sideways.
The Victoria Falls Bridge at the end of the trail separates the countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Rainbow over the Trail at Victoria Falls Rainbow over the Trail at Victoria Falls Victoria Falls Bridge

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON APRIL 17, 2012
I was up before dawn today for another game drive. Unfortunately we did not see anything today that we hadn't already seen yesterday. So I won't bore you with anymore animal pictures. We tried to find giraffes but did not find even one. There are over 16,000 giraffes in the park and not even one would come over and say hi.

We returned to the lodge after the game drive for breakfast and then checked out and drove back to Zimbabwe. We are now at the Victoria Falls hotel. A very nice classic old hotel.

The picture below was taken from the beautiful grounds of the hotel. You can see the mist rising up from the falls. The bridge you see in the photo below connects Zimbabwe with Zambia. They also bungy jump from the bridge.

This afternoon we took a walk around the falls. This is the high season for the falls. There is so much water going through them that they are hard to see through the mist. I did get a couple nice shots at the beginning of the walk. The rainbows were beautiful.

Below is Devil's Cataract.

It was hard to take pictures. The auto focus on the camera would not work because of the mist. I switched to manual focus but did not do much better.

The trail along the falls is over a mile long. About half way through you start to get really wet and you can't see the falls at all through the mist (more like a downpour).

The picture below shows a nice rainbow over the trail.

The trail ends at the bridge to Zambia.

We returned to the hotel after our walk and dried out. We had a cocktail party at 6:30 followed by a nice dinner out on the terrace with African entertainment. It was a very nice evening. This is the first of three nights here at Victoria Falls. I will write more tomorrow.

Tim
Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.



WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18, 2012:

On Wednesday morning I took a helicopter flight over the Victoria Falls.
We got an aerial view of the hotel and the town of Victoria Falls shortly after takeoff.
Helicopter in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe The Victoria Falls Hotel from the air The town of Victoria falls, Zimbabwe

Nothing compares to observing and experiencing the impressive Victoria Falls from the air.
The Victoria Falls from the air The Victoria Falls from the air The Victoria Falls from the air

In the picture on the lower left you can see the Victoria Falls Hotel in the upper left corner.
The Victoria Falls from the air The Victoria Falls from the air The Victoria Falls from the air

The 25-minute flight continued down to the Batoka Gorge and offered an opportunity to spot
wildlife from the sky. We did see giraffes and elephants but I didn't get any good pictures.
The Victoria Falls from the air The Victoria Falls from the air The Zambezi River from the air

19 minute video of Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls.

I spent the afternoon relaxing around the hotel.
In the evening our group went to three different homes for a home hosted dinner.
Home Hosted Dinner at Alfred Mpande's Home

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON APRIL 18, 2012
Happy Zimbabwe Independence Day Everyone!

Today was a national holiday here in Zimbabwe. I took it kind of easy today and didn't do a whole lot. This morning I did do one of my favorite things though, I took a helicopter flight over Victoria Falls. In the picture below you can see the small town of Victoria Falls. That is my hotel in the lower left hand corner.


We flew over the mighty Zambezi River. Which is the fourth longest river in Africa.

Of course the main attraction was the falls. The view below is directly on top showing the full length of the falls.

We circled the falls several times from different directions giving everyone on the helicopter a good view.

We also saw animals out in the bush from the flight. We saw Elephants and Giraffes. And others saw a zebra but I missed that. We saw a large group of giraffes running, I assume they were startled by the helicopter. Most of the animals I got only on video, but I did get a picture of a single giraffe.

This afternoon I went to an African market and bought a couple wood carvings. You had to bargain with the locals to get them down to a reasonable price. I heard one of the other members of the group say he was going to bring a few of them home and introduce them to the used car industry.

I relaxed around this beautiful hotel this afternoon. It was another beautiful day. Except for the dust storm in Dubai that one day, every day has been great weather. This evening was very interesting. We actually went and had dinner with local families in their homes. We split the group between three different homes. There were five of us in my group. It was a modest little house. Man, wife, three children ages 16-24, and one grandson. We saw their eldest son and grandson but did not see the other children. Below is a picture of Alfred our host.

It was a very interesting dinner. We ate with our fingers as is the local custom. We were served a huge pile of polenta, a thick ground corn paste. It looks like thick mashed potatoes. Small amounts of about a dozen different items were served with the polenta. Beef stew, chicken stew, kale & peanut butter, fried caterpillars and other items I can't remember. We would scoop up some polenta and then dip that in the other items. I have to say I didn't care much for the food, but it was still a fun evening. The people were very nice and welcoming. We would ask them questions about living in Zimbabwe and they would ask us about America. You could hear their neighbors outside singing African music and playing drums. I don't know if that was a regular occurrence or if they were celebrating the holiday. When we arrived it was still light outside and the neighborhoods were full of people outside celebrating the holiday. We were there for a little over two hours.

Tomorrow is going to be a very full day, up at dawn and won't get back until around 9:30 tomorrow night. So I will get to bed now and report on that tomorrow.

Tim
Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.



THURSDAY, APRIL 19, 2012:

Early Thursday morning we traveled just outside Victoria Falls to Wild Horizons Wildlife Sanctuary.
We got to meet our elephants and soon after we began our hour-long ride.
Me at Wild Horizons Wildlife Sanctuary Elephants approaching the boarding area Our Elephant ride in Zimbabwe

Karl and I were riding on Jock. He is the patriarch of this family of elephants.
As we were riding, the elephants would reach out with their trunks and break of entire limbs of trees.
Our Elephant ride in Zimbabwe Our Elephant ride in Zimbabwe Karl and I on Jock the elephant

Below are some of the members of our group riding their elephants.
Iris and Mary from Cape Girardeau, Missouri Jean and Maxine from Missouri Carolyn and John from Cape Girardeau, Missouri

After the ride we got to feed our elephants.
Denise and Darlene from Pennsylvania Young elephant tired after the walk Jock the elephant and his trainer

We got to meet Sylvester the cheetah before we were served breakfast.
Sylvester the cheetah and his handler, Ed Me and Sylvester the cheetah

21 minute video of my elephant safari and cheetah encounter.

After our elephant encounter we were taken to a local village where the chief gave us a tour.
Ko Mpisi Village in Zimbabwe Ko Mpisi Village in Zimbabwe Ko Mpisi Village in Zimbabwe

8 minute video of my visit to the rural Ko Mpisi Village in Zimbabwe.

After a couple hours of free time at the hotel we went on a Zambezi River cruise.
The Zambezi is the 4th-longest river in Africa, and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa.
The 2200 mile-long river's source is in Zambia. It flows through Angola, along the borders of Namibia,
Botswana, Zambia again, and Zimbabwe, to Mozambique, where it empties into the Indian Ocean.
We saw some wildlife along the river during our cruise, crocodile, hippos and elepahnts.
Zambezi River in Zimbabwe Hippo in the Zambezi River Zambezi River in Zimbabwe

We were told about David Livingstone during our cruise.
David Livingstone was a Scottish Congregationalist pioneer medical
missionary with the London Missionary Society and an explorer in Africa.
His meeting with H. M. Stanley gave rise to the popular quotation, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"
Sunset on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe Elephants on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe Sunset on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe

The highlight of the cruise was the beautiful African sunset.
Sunset on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe Sunset on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe Sunset on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe

After the cruise we had a bush dinner within earshot of the falls.
Sunset on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe African singers and dancers at bush dinner

30 minute video of my sunset cruise on the Zambezi River.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON APRIL 19, 2012
Time is going by fast, my vacation is over half over already. It was up early again today. Our first activity of the day was an elephant ride. We first got to meet our elephants and get acquainted with them. Then it was time to hop on. It was a lot longer ride then I expected, about an hour. We saw a couple other critters out in the bush during our ride. The cute little guy you see in the photo below walked right beside me most of the way.

As we were walking through the jungle the elephants would reach out with their trunks and break off entire limbs of trees and eat them. Even the little guy. Below is a picture of Jock, the elephant I was riding on. He is the patriarch of this family of elephants and is 29 years old. That is me in the back, Karl from Arizona in the middle and our driver up front.

The little guy decided to take a load off after our walk. He also apparently had beans for breakfast.

After the elephant ride we got to meet Sylvester the cheetah. He's almost three years old and fully grown. His mother was chased off by a lion and never returned leaving him and his four siblings abandoned when they were only a couple days old. Wild Horizons rescued them but Sylvester was the only one to survive. Since he was raised by humans he's too tame to be released back into the wild.

Next we visited a local village and met their chief. A very talkative fellow with some very strong beliefs. He is a medicine man by profession. 18 people live in this village with no electricity or running water. There are hundreds of other villages in this area similar to this one.

We got a three hour break back at the hotel between 1:00 and 4:00. At 4:00 we set out on a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. It was a very nice and peaceful cruise. We saw a crocodile, a hippo and another group of elephants having fun in the water.

It was another beautiful sunset tonight. The sun sets at almost exactly 6:00.

After our cruise we had a bush dinner under the stars on the banks of the Zambezi River within earshot of the falls. The dinner was really delicious. I had buffalo for the first time, it was really good. After the dinner there was traditional African dancing.

It was a really fun day. I am back at the hotel now for my last night in Victoria Falls. We are flying to Kruger National Park tomorrow afternoon, so we don't have to get up very early tomorrow.

Until tomorrow,

Tim
Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.



FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2012:

Friday morning before leaving Zimbabwe we visited the Chinotimba Government School in Victoria Falls.
The principal told us about her school and the children put on a little show for us.
I was very impressed by how polite and well behaved the children were.
The Chinotimba Government School in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe The Chinotimba Government School in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe The Chinotimba Government School in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

18 minute video of the town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.


Click on the arrow above to continue to the next adventure:
Kruger National Park!


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