I wake up to the smell of my brother in law barbecuing breakfast. Today we’re going to see one of the world’s wonders – The Victoria Falls. It is the largest waterfall by area, and is supposed to be absolutely stunning at its peak. Unfortunately, we’re visiting in the dry season, so I’ve been warned that it won’t be that magnificent.
Nonetheless, I am super excited. You don’t get to visit the Victoria Falls everyday, even if it is in its lesser glory.
Before breakfast, I decide to iron my clothes, which turns out to be a bad idea. The wire coating has come apart and I get an electric shock on my wrist. More irritation to add to my first African mosquito bite.
I am actually surprised that it has taken four days for a mosquito to attack me. Before I came here, I prepared myself to be eaten alive immediately. But all thanks to God, I only have one bite so far.
We finish our hearty breakfast, pack up our bags, and leave for the Falls.
The entrance to the falls is almost empty. It’s a Wednesday, and school holidays have ended, so not many people are visiting. On top of that, as I mentioned before, the falls are not full, so it’s not really worth a special trip at the moment.
As I wait for admission tickets to be bought, a baboon comes to sit by the car. There’s quite a few baboons just walking around casually.
I’m not a big fan of baboons. They just sit and stare at you, which I find really creepy.
There are small paths, with steps and cut signs to navigate around, leading to the Falls. Before the path starts, there is an opening at the entrance with small souvenir shops. Almost all of the items are handmade with wood. The locals are absolutely amazing at crafting wood.
There is also a large model of the Victoria falls and an information board. After taking a few snaps of the pretty impressive model (my Architect husband insists), we make our way to the winding paths.
Along the path is a large statue of David Livingstone, who was the first European (or affluent enough European) to see the Falls. In the colonial days, it was said that David Livingstone ‘discovered’ the Victoria Falls, but later the lie was set straight. However, due to the earlier amazement at Livingstone’s ‘discovery’, there are quite a few places in Zambia (and other parts of central Africa) named after him, including the place we stayed at.
The path turns this way and that until we reach the Falls. The sight is beautiful! Everyone else with me have seen the Falls in its peak after the rainy season, so they aren’t half as impressed as me. My husband explains how when the Falls are full, the sound is roaring, and the shower absolutely drenches anyone standing even near the railings.
Where I am standing there is only trickles of waterfall in different places, and I feel small splatters of water. I would love to see it in April, as I am completely taken away by its beauty even now.
We continue walking along the edge of the waterfall, with small railings – which would definitely not pass UK safety standards – to separate us from the deep plunge.
On the other side I can see Zimbabwe, as the Falls separates the two countries. There is more water on the Zim side, and we consider crossing the border. But the hassle of visas for a few hours isn’t really worth it.
We finish walking around the Falls, and decide to go to do some activities. On the way out, I buy some souvenirs, which I had no idea how to haggle down. But travelling with good hagglers has its perks and I get a good deal.
The first activity of the day is bungee jumping, which takes place off a country-less bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
First we hand our passports and collect a pass. I’m guessing this is so we can’t enter Zimbabwe illegally. The walk to the bridge is long, and the heat is scorching. A man on a bicycle pulling along a bench with wheels rides alongside us. He’s offering a lift at tourist prices, and the bicycle seems to move as fast as my legs. Naturally, we refuse.
When we get to the bridge, it dawns on everyone just how high it is. My husband asks me whether I still want to go through with the jump, and I answer with an honest yes!
The views are stunning from the bridge. It is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity, maybe.
The worker answers our questions regarding previous injuries and deaths from the jump, and he responds by telling us that it’s 100% safe. My husband doesn’t seem convinced.
A man from Ghana prepares for the jump. He is buckled in harnesses, and towels are wrapped around his legs followed by the bunjee rope. The whole process seems less than professional, as it takes place on a platform attached to the bridge, which is where he will jump from.
He shuffles to the edge of the platform, and gets ready to jump. He raises his hands, a countdown starts, and he jumps!
The rope stretches out, and then springs back, tossing the man under the bridge out of sight. After a few seconds, he is thrown back in to view. And he hangs upside down from a bridge.
I decide that this is all I’ve ever wanted to do. It looks amazing…until…one of the bunjee workers who is already harnessed up, lowers down and wraps his arms around the Ghanese man to pull him back up.
Everything seemed perfect until now. I would love to bunjee jump, but I am not so keen on being cuddled by a random guy. As a Muslim woman, it goes against my principles of modesty to be touched by a strange man.
I also realise that I would have to change from my floor length loose clothes, to trousers. And my hijab wouldn’t stay intact after jumping from a bridge.
I was so caught up in the excitement of bungee jumping that I didn’t think of it realistically. It’s totally immodest.
In the end, only my brother in law takes the plunge (pun intended), with his parents holding their breath on the sidelines.
After he’s pulled back to safety, and shares the experience with us, we watch the video, and then make our way back to the car.
Read Part 6 here!
Read the previous parts of Veiled Journal’s African blog here: