At Nata, we had comfortable thatched roof chalets with an inviting, deep claw foot tub inside and enclosed outdoor shower, mosquito net over the bed (we are in malaria country now), and the cozy smell of an old Maine cabin.
Cheffie made porridge for breakfast and I floored him by adding peanut butter to my oatmeal. To his credit, he tried it and liked it. We were on the road at 6am to leave plenty of time for the border crossing into Zimbabwe. We made stellar time, arriving at the border early to no-lines-no-waiting. If you’re using a US passport, you’ll need a $30 visa which you apply for at the window and is good for 30 days but just allows one entry. If you plan to cross the border multiple times, get the $50 visa. This is handy if you want to do the Livingstone Islands just across the bridge from Victoria Falls in Zambia.
Once through the border, I couldn’t believe the difference in landscape. Suddenly the geography had relief, varying sizes of plant life, a random elephant and wart hogs roadside, and nothing else for miles.
Soon we were in the city of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, a bustling tourist town full of opportunities to explore, whether a safari on horseback, a bike tour, sunset cruise, zip line or bungy jump, cage swimming with crocodiles, spa treatments, and more.
We made a tentative plan for tomorrow, had a brewery tour then lunch at the brewery (with baobab-infused lemonade) then went to settle into our lodging at Shearwater for the next couple of nights. Martjie and I we’re excited for some bodywork at the spa downtown but this quickly turned into an “interesting” experience. Really due to expectations. We expected massage and reflexology to be the same in Zimbabwe as we are accustomed in the US. Not so and once we changed our expectations, things were easier. But the beauty of the visit was that the ladies were chatty and willing to answer our many questions about life in the Zim. That music next door- they’ve had a wedding going since 10am (it was now 4:15), they talked about the cosmetology school they went to, their families, how everything is so expensive for them (beer is a ridiculous $3, they quipped), their native language, that English is taught to every student in school, holiday traditions, religion, and more. They talked of how the elephants roam the streets in town and steal mangoes from the women’s trees everyday and slip their trunks through open windows looking for food and breaking everything in reach. It was rather enlightening.
We met the crew for dinner at the lodge and they noted the “big 5” fence around the property. This is to keep the animals out because they are around town. The Big 5 are elephants, lions, rhino, water buffalo, and leopard. The river at the falls also has crocs and hippos (these live symbiotically).
Our team works really hard for us and I feel they deserve a shout out. Our driver, Shadrack, is a driver I trust thoroughly, which speaks volumes. He is also kind and patient but is someone you want in your corner when the chips and down because he knows how to be a lion when lion energy is needed. Ricardo, our chef, makes a delicious something out of nothing with every meal and delivers his presentation with a lighthearted flair of drama. Our Fearless Leader, Richard, is the fuel pump of the operation, watching everything like a hawk to be sure no person, no bag, no equipment is left behind and checks multiple times a day that we are happy and satisfied. This trip is through a company called Intrepid and you can ask to have these guys on your tour if you take one. I’ve had nothing but great interactions with each of them. They are wonderful humans working hard to support their families, which usually means being away from them for weeks at a time.
Time to call it a day. If you liked this post, please share with a friend and follow my blog so more people can find it. I appreciate you being here and following along ❤️
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