Victoria Falls is the adrenaline zone of Zimbabwe. Bungee jumping, gorge swinging, ziplining, helicoptering, and river rafting – tourist centers throughout the small town offer an abundance of adventurous activities. The town of Victoria Falls also happens to be right next to some magnificent waterfalls of the same name. Since this trip is about experiencing things I’ve never done before, I had it in the back of my head since arriving in Africa that I would bungee jump in Victoria Falls. No big deal. Well, planning on doing something in the seemingly distant future and actually doing it are two entirely different things.
We arrived in Victoria Falls around 3pm. I thought it would be a nice relaxing evening setting up our tents, showering, having a leisurely dinner, getting myself psyched up for a potential bungee jump the next day. Instead, three of the Swedes in our group informed me that they would be bungee jumping that evening – before 5pm (only two hours away!), as that is when the place closes. Um. Shoot. Oh, geez. Aaaaaaah. I knew it would be way more fun to bungee jump with my friends. So I had to do it that day. With no time to mentally prepare. I had to throw myself off a bridge. With just a bungee cord attached to me.
Sofie, Sofia, Johan (YO – hawn), and I headed to the bridge over the Zambezi River that separates Zimbabwe from Zambia. Technically, we were in no man’s land because we had to exit Zimbabwe to actually get to the bridge. I didn’t think it was a good omen. I signed my life away and the bungee jump people started to get the four of us outfitted in our bungee jumping gear. I couldn’t help looking over the side of the bridge. Of course, that was a terrible idea. The river (which was bordered by a rocky bank) was very, very far down.
I was more nervous than I’ve ever been in my entire life. Even more nervous than the first day of the bar exam (which is saying a LOT, because that was the most nerve-wracking morning ever. But at least then there wasn’t a possibility I’d be plunging headfirst into a rocky river). Fearless Sofia jumped first, followed by Sophie. There was no turning back now. I had to do it.
As my brother and some other supportive members of our group encouraged me on from the bridge, one of the bungee guys wrapped my ankles in towels (um, is that really safe?!) and secured me to a bungee cord. He shuffled me to the very edge of the bungee platform, made me raise my arms like I was about to fly, counted down from five, then basically pushed me off the platform. The next five seconds are a blur. I couldn’t see anything. (It’s very likely that my eyes were closed.) It was seriously the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I thought after the scariness of the initial jump subsided, I would be calm and could enjoy the ride. But no, all I could think about as I plummeted towards the river was, this is the scariest thing ever. It didn’t seem like I would ever stop falling, and then when I did, I bounced back up and fell again, almost as much as I did the first time. I couldn’t tell which way was up. When the bouncing slowed down, I hung there spinning in circles. The only thing I was thinking was, I can’t believe I just bungee jumped! One of the bungee guys came down and pulled me up to a walkway on the underside of the bridge, where I tried to get my legs to support my body.
What a rush! The next day was a lazy day followed by a dinner at Boma, a fancy all-you-can-eat restaurant that serves delicious and unique game meat. Dressed in African robes, we stuffed our faces with bream, impala, crocodile, guinea fowl, buffalo, ostrich, and the most deliciously amazing meat I’ve ever tasted, warthog. Those pumbaas, they are goooood.
The dinner ended with each of us playing the drums, dancing, and getting African animals painted on our faces (I got a giraffe, of course). Half of our group was leaving the next day, which was really sad because we’d all become great friends over the last few weeks. The festive dinner was a great time to celebrate their last night and also to welcome the seven new group members that will be joining us for the next leg of our trip. Our new friends are from all over Europe – Scotland, Wales, London, Austria, and Italy.
We woke up to extreme heat on our third day in Victoria Falls realizing that we had yet to even see the falls! We traipsed on over to the National Park to finally view this majestic marvel for ourselves. The locals call the falls Mosi-oa-Tunga, meaning “The Smoke That Thunders.” Thunder they do. We heard the roar of the falls long before we could actually see them. We meandered along the path that follows the span of the falls, periodically getting showered with the watery “smoke” that rises up from the monstrous crash of the falls into the river.
Being so close to Zambia, we decided to get another view of the Zambezi and spent our afternoon across the border. We taxi’ed to Livingstone and leisured away a few hours cocktailing through the sunset at the luxurious Royal Livingstone Hotel, whose outdoor restaurant overlooks a calm part of the elephant and hippo-filled Zambezi before it gushes into the falls. We could see the spray smoking up from the falls in the distance.
Apart from having delicious girly cocktails (which were expensive according to African prices but ridiculously cheap according to SF prices), the hotel had a resident zebra and mischievous monkeys that sat on our table eating our appetizers. It was greatly fun, and an added bonus was getting to use the hotel lobby’s super luxurious bathrooms. Tomorrow we are heading across the border into Botswana to Chobe National Park for more safari’ing!