Last weekend the kids and I flew to Victoria falls, to meet Cath who was there with work. I was quite apprehensive about taking the kids out of South Africa on my own. Entering and leaving South Africa with kids is considerable hassle. Immigration require children’s original birth certificates along with passports. And if only one of the parents leaves the country with their kids they are required to provide additional significant documentation along with a signed affadavit stamped and dated by your local police station.
Fortunately, the trip went smoothly. By late afternoon we had arrived at the Avari hotel on the Zambia side. The hotel is in the middle of a national park, so zebra and impala often graze on the hotel grounds.
The first morning was spent taking in the falls, which were 5 minutes walk from the hotel. They are a truly magnificent sight. The sheer scale is incredible– more than twice the width and height of Niagara falls. It was a good time to visit. The rainy season had just finished so there was a lot of water. Mind, getting to the best viewpoint worryingly named ‘danger point’, meant navigating through the tremendous spray, which drenched everyone. Alex was not happy about getting soaked.
The vegetation around the falls is tropical because of the continual rainfall.
In the afternoon we took a trip on the Queen of Africa, a majestic, colonial river boat travelled on by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert over a century ago when they visited the country. Unfortunately, we lowered the tone somewhat, turning up late with screaming kids. Alex and Lena settled down once the boat had set off, leaving Cath and I to enjoy a few drinks as the boat lazily cruised up the river. It would have been perfect for a game of cards.
On the penultimate day we went on a safari. We had had a number of magical safari experiences in South Africa, so I wasn’t that bothered. However, Cath was adamant this would be worth the experience. I think expectations collapsed after we realised we were the only people on the safari lumped with a lacklustre guide who had zero interest in wildlife. Then, shortly into the trip, the guide casually let slip the national park only had the big 3. In other words no lions or leopards.
Nevermind, I consoled myself with the prospect of watching a herd of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plains. Or maybe a couple of elephants. Was it too much to expect? Afterall, it was a relatively small national park and creatures tend to be habitual. Unfortunately, the guide was struggling to drive the temperamental jeep let alone navigate around the park. After spectacularly failing to spot any animals of note, and increasingly desperate for a tip, the guide started stopping to point out anything of note– moorhen, deer, ducks. Cath was becoming increasingly irritated at these pointless stops and finally ordered the guide to drive us back to the hotel. Despite being the worst safari I have ever been on, our early return did enable us to catch sundowners at the bar overlooking the river at the adjoining Royal Livingstone hotel.