On the last post we had just arrived into the town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls itself is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, and I first remember hearing about it in my 4th grade geography class, never imagining that I would one day be there in person!
We are staying for two nights at the 5 star Victoria Falls Hotel, which has beautiful sprawling grounds, and faces a modern day engineering marvel – The Victoria Falls Bridge in the distance, as this Wikipedia articles explains. From this view at our hotel you can see the bridge in the distance, and the smoke-like clouds that are formed by the force of the water flowing over the falls.
There are also cute little monkeys, but you have to watch them closely when you’re having a meal at the outdoor restaurant there, lest they take your food! Here a monkey sits in a tree, while another one runs across the lawn not far from where we had lunch.
Ad the above Wikipedia article explains, the dramatic arched bridge was first constructed in England, before being shipped and then transported via railway to Victoria Falls, where it was assembled and completed 14 months later in 1905. Today it’s hard to imagine the labor and engineering hours that went into the design so long ago; way before computers and internet, not to mention how they got the materials, labor, and machinery equipment to its final destination in Victoria Falls.
On tonight’s excursion we took a sunset train ride across the bridge, enjoying spectacular views of the falls and later stopping on the bridge for some photos. We boarded our train literally right across the lawn from our hotel, and AMA Waterways had two rail cars reserved for our group, which made for a more intimate and private experience.
On the train we were served hor d’ourves and drinks, starting with a welcome aboard Zimbabwe cocktail. As our train car was not full, we could freely roam around for better viewing and to socialize with fellow passengers.
Steve (DOS) and I both love trains, and this reminded us a bit of the Dome Car in Napa Valley where we’ve had dinner a couple times. We had actually considered takes the Rovos Rail Train, which is a luxurious two night train trip from Victoria Falls back to Johannesburg, (which was a separate tour AMA Waterways offered), but declined doing that in lieu of the upcoming safari at the end of our trip. Also, the Rovos Rail is a 5 star train and quite dressy, and while we own suits and tuxes and enjoy dressing up occasionally, we didn’t want to bring formal wear on our first trip to Africa, especially with wearing the opposite end of the spectrum – safari wear. Some of our fellow passengers would be ending their trip in Victoria Falls and taking the Rovos Rail train back to Johannesburg, and we look forward to hearing how they enjoyed it when we get home.
But for now, we enjoyed our hor d’ourves, wine, and/or beer as we rolled along our scenic journey on the Bushtracks Express, even as we contemplated a future trip on the Rovos Rail.
About midway thru the 2 1/2 hour train ride, we stopped on the bridge, and got out of the train for a better view and some photos. We were immediately approached by some friendly vendors, keeping in mind what our AMA guide Delia had told us, to take photos and a walk first, and then if there is time left buy some souvenirs. That was good advice as we made our way thru the dozen vendors or so, right about sunset time.
We took some photos and walked around, even walking across the bridge to yet another country! Halfway across the bridge we left Zimbabwe and entered Zambia, with the small sign indicating we were in a different country. Unlike the immigration encounters we had had already from Namibia to Botswana to Zimbabwe, there was no border crossing at least on the bridge.
After taking a few photos, we headed back towards the train, ‘picking up’ two vendor friends on the way. Actually they picked us up figuratively speaking, but they were friendly enough so we bought a couple souvenirs from our new-found bridge friends, had them take our photo, and then asked them to be in a photo with us before we re-boarded the train for our return journey back to the hotel.
While the views from the bridge were lovely, you could only see a portion of the actual falls from the bridge. Tomorrow we will visit the actual Victoria Falls park for a close up look of the Falls, and later take a helicopter ride over them. For now though, we just marveled at the majesty and might of this natural wonder of the world.
On the return train trip back to our hotel, more food was served; some of which we liked,
and some like this crocodile dish that I didn’t like!
We did finish up the night with a light meal at the hotel, as though we had had some pretty filling hor d’ourves and desserts aboard the train, I wasn’t completely full as I didn’t care for the crocodile or ostrich. The hotel restaurant offered indoor and outdoor seating, and we chose to sit outside admiring the bridge lit up at night from afar. Although it was on the menu, no more crocodile for me!
Now comfortably full and a bit tired out from the long travel day, we headed back to our room. Out room had been serviced for turn-down service while we were out, and the 4 poster bed had the netting drawn around the bed to protect us from any flying critters, which turned out not to be an issue during this dry season of the year. Tomorrow is a tour of Victoria Falls Park, an afternoon helicopter ride, and later on a sunset dinner cruise. Until then, Nightie Night!