Day 299: Fifty Dollars Or Free?

Sat. 8th June 2013

You just don't get tired of this view!One of the activities in Victoria Falls that appealed to us was the bridge tour to hear about the history of the bridge but at a cost of $50 each it seemed excessive. Having quizzed the tour operator in the hotel we gleaned that we could walk across the bridge ourselves. Our main concern was we had to leave Zimbabwe as the bridge is between the two customs posts for Zimbabwe and Zambia and we did not want to get sting for another $55 visa fee each to return to Victoria Falls town. Easy, the lady on the tour desk told us, ask for a gate pass and make sure your passport is not stamped.

Unexpected viewBefore we could even think of enjoying ourselves we had laundry to sort and we had heard there was a laundrette at the Rest Camp so that was our first stop. We were surprised it was not coin operated DIY and so having left our laundry there with the ladies in charge to be collected in the afternoon we were free for the rest of the day. A great relief we were not having to do a massive wash by hand in the hotel bath like we did a week ago! Coffee and free internet at Lola’s Café was first port of call to catch up on the rest of the world.

The bridge is great from any angleWe were then ready to run the gauntlet yet again through the street touts selling the one hundred trillion dollar bills and carvings of the big five. First up was the art gallery of carvings in the Victoria Falls hotel. Most of the carvings weighed more than my backpack so there was no danger of us buying anything. We then took the footpath from the hotel to the falls. The view of the spray from the falls and the bridge as you walk through the hotel takes your breath away every time.

The gorge downstreamThis footpath was a surprise, firstly as there was elephant poo on the path showing how close the animals came to town and secondly as the path went past viewpoints of the gorge downstream from the falls where the zip wires ran from. The only working zip wire looked longer and faster than the ones in Ecuador. It was also a one way trip – you finished dangling in the middle of the gorge and then one of the operators was lowered down, attached himself to you and then you were both winched back. Not tempted!

Yet another view of the fallsOnce we arrived at the border point it was easy to get through and the views from the bridge well worth it. One way was the magnificent Victoria Falls Hotel perched on the top of the gorge and the other way a good view of the right hand end of the falls. We were also in time to see a girl bungee jump but were not tempted to have a go even though a local told us the rope had been replaced since a girl died a few years ago when the rope snapped!

Victoria Falls Hotel from the bridgeBest of all was the museum giving the history of the bridge just over the bridge on the Zambian side (but before the border post). It was free and gave a very informative display of photos and words. Why would we want to pay $50 each when we could do it all for free? The gate through to the walk below the bridge was unlocked and unattended so we could have done that too.

Added bonus seeing the steam trainContent at our success we went off for a late lunch back at Lola’s with the free internet. It was late afternoon by the time we headed back across the railway line to The Kingdom hotel and saw steam from down the line. The steam train was waiting outside the Victoria Halls Hotel ready to take a private group of sixty guests for the sunset journey to the bridge and falls.

The waiters in the trainWe found this out as the waiters were standing outside the train on the red carpet waiting for the guests and they invited us to see the inside of the train. They were touting for our business wanting us to come back tomorrow for the normal tram trip but we will have moved on by then. Another gem for free!



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