Vic Falls for your birthday, anyone?
Mosi oa Tunya – The Smoke that Thunders.
In 2019 my fiancé and I decided to do something memorable for our birthdays, which are just 12 days apart. A joint celebration always works out cheaper anyway! After some thought and much back-and-forth, Victoria Falls won the day. Mosi oa Tunya, as it is known locally, is close enough for us not to spend hours in transit yet far enough for us to feel like we’re on a different planet. We stayed on the Zimbabwe side of the falls at the Kingdom Hotel. Walking in, we could tell that it used to be a bastion of wealth and privilege but time had partly eroded its illustrious standing. Nonetheless, it was a great choice. From the welcoming reception, the multiple waterbodies in which I could check my image, to the wildlife roaming the grasses in the nearby nature reserve, we felt right at home.
Our getaway started somewhat interestingly with us witnessing scores of people and vehicles at the service station just a stone’s throw from our hotel queuing for fuel and paraffin, which were nowhere to be found. At the time Zimbabwe was experiencing heavy fuel shortages as a result of the state of the economy. The distress and desperation were palpable. Yet, everywhere we went we were received with the warm hearts, selflessness and kindness that I’ve only ever experienced on our beautiful continent.
Being the adventurists that we are, our first day was spent in the town centre. We had lunch at a deli-looking place (the name escapes me now, that should tell you a lot!) where we had a light, very forgettable, meal just to line the tummy so that we could proceed with our day. Our next stop was The River Brewing Company for…guess what? Correct! Copious amounts of beer in celebration of another year on this earth. Our evening would have ended at this point had we not asked one of the patrons where we could find the nearest party. Our inquiries led us to a Zim dance hall haven (our first interaction with this addictive music genre) where we consumed enough Zambezi and Mosi beer to last lifetime. Now you know where my potbelly comes from!
Thanks to a certain barman and my fiancé’s reluctance to parting with Zim dance hall, we had a groggy and reluctant start to day 2…the actual reason why we made the trip. Finally, we made it to the falls, which are a short distance from the Kingdom Hotel.
After paying a minimal fee to enter the park we began what would turn out to be one of the most awe-inspiring walks of our lives. It’s difficult to describe Mosi oa Tunya. Pictures and words somehow belittle what one feels when in the belly of the beast. The steam, the droplets of water and the roaring noise come at you first as you start to feel the moisture in the air - hint: don’t wear a wig, ladies. Then as you get closer to the falls you feel a vibration in your chest, almost earthquake-like. As the bush clears you happen upon what is likely to be one of the most beautiful images you’ll ever see - water gushing down with unimaginable force, both scary and utterly beautiful. An image that’ll have even non-believers wondering if God really does exist. After a lapse of what feels like hours of staring into one of the most majestic wonders of the world, recovery comes. And you realise how fortunate you are to have experienced such glory.