A Couple Days in Zimbabwe

After our short safari at Chobe National Park, Beth and I departed for Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

We weren’t really sure what to expect. As you may already know, Zimbabwe no longer has its own currency and has a long history of political corruption and human rights abuses. From 2003-2009, Zimbabwe experienced a period of hyper-inflation that saw the printing of $100 Trillion bills (but even a trillion dollars was basically worthless). Now, everyone uses US Dollars, Euros, or South African Rand to pay for things.

What we found was a delightful community… at least in Victoria Falls.

Our first night we went to dinner at a restaurant called the Boma. It definitely a novelty experience, and I’m sure there’s plenty of people who find it tacky, fun, and/or offensive. When you enter the restaurant, everyone is given a kente cloth to wrap over our modern clothing. The local staff help you tie it on correctly (men over one shoulder and women over the other). You’re also given a quick bit of face paint. Men seem to get a series of straight lines on one cheek while women receive dots. We could never figure out, however, what the marks represented as some people received more or less than others. There was little correlation between age that we could see, and no other factor jumped out at us.

The dinner itself was a smorgasbord of food with every type of animal imaginable on offer. As you ate, dancers sporatically took center stage, while a series of performers made their way through the crowds of tourists. There was a self-proclaimed “witch doctor” who would throw bones in order to read your fortune as well as others offering more extensive face painting, local cocktails, and more.

The cab driver who picked us up from our hotel made sure to tell us to stay all the way through the drum show at the end of dinner. Even though we were getting sleepy, we powered through, and were glad we did. The restaurant gave everyone a small drum and then a group of performers led us through a super fun interactive drumming experience. There was even the opportunity for a Soul Train-style dance off at the end.

The falls themselves are certainly the main reason for any visit, but there are a few other things you shouldn’t miss.

Quite near the falls is something known as the Big Baobab tree. It’s between 1000-1500 years old, stands 20 meters high, and is 15 metes in diameter. It’s large size and proximity to the falls made it a ready landmark and campsite for early explorers and visitors. The bottom of the tree is littered with carved messages from visitors dating back to the 1800s.

On second (and last) evening in Zimbabwe, we enjoyed a cruise on the Zambezi river – the same river that feeds Victoria Falls. Don’t worry, we went upstream, not down. In fact, our captain told us that if the boat got closer than a couple of kilometers away from the falls that the river would overpower the boats engines and we’d be in a whole heap of trouble.

We didn’t see near as much wildlife as we did in Chobe, but did spot a few crocodiles and hippos.

  • The Big Baobab Tree
  • The Big Baobab Tree
  • 19th Century Graffiti on the Baobab
  • 1930's Graffiti on the Baobab
  • RCJ Grant Was Here - 1921
  • Hippo on the Zambezi
  • Vic and Beth at Sunset
  • Sunset on the Zambezi

One Response to “A Couple Days in Zimbabwe”

  1. Texas Mom says:

    The perspective of you under the Big Baobab tree really gives one a feel for its size.