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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Zim!

You may think it's strange, when you have limited time to enjoy a corner of the world to choose to revisit a place you have already been. If given the choice, why not go somewhere new instead? Even though I pondered this question myself, recently Mr. Deep and I returned to Victoria Falls. 

This time instead of staying on the Zambia side of the falls, we stayed on the Zimbabwe side. And by the way, Mr. Deep and I like to refer to neighboring African countries by their first syllable only so we use the names Zam, Zim, Bots and Moz. In the future I'll also be writing about Tanz and Nam. But I digress. 



When we visited the falls previously we enjoyed boat cruises on the Zambezi, flew in a helicopter over the falls and walked with rhinos protected by armed guards. This time, our plan to was to whitewater raft, swim near the edge of the falls (really) and give Mr. Deep one last chance to try to catch a tiger fish.

We stayed at the beautiful and historic Victoria Falls Hotel located within walking distance to the falls and situated to provide amazing views of the the mist rising from the falls. 


The Victoria Falls hotel was built by the British in 1904. I have stayed in a lot of hotels in my life and I can tell you that old is not always the best characteristic for a hotel but in this case it was a positive. Even though the age is obvious and not everything is perfect and shiny as a new hotel might be, while there you feel as if you have gone back in time. It is easy to imagine being a distinguished European visitor enjoying wild Africa but with all of the fancy amenities that you are accustomed to. Numerous dignitaries have stayed at the Victoria Falls Hotel including Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton and Oprah. I am not a lover of antiques or traditional decor but being in the hotel made me want to decorate my next house in a mix of colonial and African style.






Anytime a hotel has its own china you know you're in some fancy digs

If you're offended by animal heads this may not be the hotel for you.

By far, my favorite feature of this hotel was the service. South Africans smile a lot and often bend over backwards to be friendly and helpful but Zimbabweans take it to a whole different level and yes, I think this is part of the Zimbabwean spirit and not just a function of a great hotel. Even though the hotel is very large and there were numerous guests the staff acted like we were the only people there. They referred to Mr. Deep as "Mr. Stephen" and they seemed to remember what activities we were doing each day saying things such as "did you enjoy your rafting today?" or "how was the fishing Mr. Stephen?" or "I know you were enjoying red wine before dinner" (granted on this one maybe our mouths were stained red?) These were not the managers or the concierges asking...this was the waiter, the housekeeper and the bellman. 


One of several "infographics" to remind you what resources came from each British colony.





It rained a few times while we were in Zim. Sometimes rain is unpleasant during a hotel stay/holiday but the Victoria Falls Hotel has so many areas inside and out to explore that you almost wish for a rainy day.
The first day we arrived we walked down to the falls, a short walk on a dirt path. A security guard accompanied us. He said he was there to protect us from wild animals but Mr. Deep and I think it was to protect us from the significant number of aggressive hawkers trying to sell us things as we walked. Not that these hawkers are dangerous, I don't think they are. But they are desperate and persistent. First, the hawkers would try to sell us something, say a wooden bowl or a carved elephant. When we would politely decline, they would lower the price or offer us a two for one special. When we declined they would ask us if we had anything to trade for the item like old shoes or clothes. When we declined they would ask for money or a loaf of bread. The whole thing was very sad and both Mr. Deep and I ended up giving away our sneakers over the course of the weekend.






There is a lot of discussion about which side of the falls (Zim or Zam) offers the best viewing and I think some of it has to do with competition for tourist dollars between the two countries.I thought the views from Zim were magnificent but I also really enjoyed the views from Zam so I think it's hard to go wrong assuming you are visiting when the water is high. During the dry season much of the falls dry up completely. I will post more photos of the falls soon but in the meantime, below is a teaser.












2 comments:

  1. lovely! Great that you got to see both sides. And now I wish I had seen the Vic Falls Hotel. We stayed in the Stanley & Livingstone, also great, but not walking distance. Agree with you on the wonderful service and attitude.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think it's a place that one could visit many times and enjoy over and over on either the Zim or Zam side. Thanks for being such a loyal reader and commenting. ��

    ReplyDelete

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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have moved from the U.S. to South Africa for three years. We moved due to an exciting opportunity my husband had with his job. Second, I won't be working anymore. I'm actually not allowed to work so that will be different given that for the past twenty years I've been somewhat of a workaholic. I'm excited to share our adventures with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.