Smoke on the Water

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Victoria Falls Bridge Slide
Avital and I enjoy a quick slide across the Zambezi
Victoria Falls is a true wonder of the world – a wonder in international marketing. Sure, the falls are beautiful but no more spectacular than many others we have seen and less spectacular than several (my favorite to date being Kaieteur Falls). Yet, this is not only a ‘must-see’ attraction if you are in Zimbabwe, Zambia or nearby Botswana but is on a good percentage of commercial itineraries for trips to South Africa (‘only’ a 2 hour flight away) and, even more amazing, people are convinced they need to spend an extra thousand dollars and day of travel to add it to East African safari itineraries 2000 kilometers away (basically, it would be like Chicago convincing visitors to New York that they need to stop by on their way home to visit the top of the Sears Tower).

Eliav Rhino Poop
Eliav adds his interpretation to the local pop-art
The resulting crowds of package tourists does take away from the splendor of the falls themselves, and brings with it the touts and hawkers that count on you not knowing the difference between authentic curios and dime-a-dozen crap mostly made in China. On the other hand, for someone who is willing to play their game, you can take care of all those gifts you need to bring home in one shot at very little cost. You also get all the trappings that come with crowds of backpackers and tourists with money to spare – here that comes in the form of various adrenaline-inducing activities around and across the gorges of the Zambezi (and Rastafarians who drew the line on what he would share with my kids before I did). Sure, Karen isn’t in a state to indulge but that didn’t stop me and Avital from enjoying a quick zip across the gorge to Victoria Falls Bridge. The flip side to that is the ‘wildlife’ encounters – though I assure you your lion walk here (or tiger encounter in Chiang Mai, etc.) is no more natural or wild than it is at the zoo back home; the only difference here is that you are financing that lions quick shipment to a hunting farm to become a ‘trophy’ on some cowards wall (someone who isn’t man enough for a real hunt but has the money to pay for a canned one and is comfortable taking it home even if he doesn’t deliver the actual kill shot).

Victoria Falls Lunar Rainbow
The moonbow is scene through the mist of Victoria Falls
We saw the falls from every angle available in Zimbabwe and Zambia save the helicopter. The most interesting, and only unique one, was the full-moon visit with a lunar rainbow emanating from the gushing waters. Once we were told to go ahead by the guide as he wrangled the mass of tourists behind us it was a pleasant family walk in the moonlit rainforest listening to the falls and admiring the rainbow. Since we took our time here, we were able to relax in the afternoons as warthog and bushbuck mowed our chalet lawn and we played with our 10 billion dollar notes (Zimbabwean dollars of course). It was a nice break in that regard but I am glad to be heading back into the bush of Hwange tomorrow and then engage some real Zimbabwean culture, both present and ancient, in Bulawayo and Great Zimbabwe.

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