Afraid of heights? Get over it. Really. Now is the time to conquer that fear. In Zimbabwe. Because you don’t want to miss this incredible view. Or, in this case, views.
You’ve arrived in Southern Africa to see Mosi-oa Tunya, or “the Smoke that Thunders.” Otherwise known as Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Situated along the Zambezi–Africa’s fourth largest river–and between Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls is the world’s largest sheet of falling water. The falls span more than a mile. And the drop is 355 feet. It’s two times as wide and two times as deep as Niagara Falls. You hear them long before you see them.
You will get wet, so to tour the falls, wear a raincoat and bring a waterproof bag to stash valuables. The first thing you’ll see is a statue of David Livingstone, who is believed to be the first European to see the falls, in 1855. Walk down the Chain Walk for views of Devil’s Cataract and Boaruka Island. A bushbuck crosses the path in front of you. To see the main falls, move through the rainforest. Clouds of mist–there’s the smoke–will limit your visibility. Vervet monkeys swing between the branches above you. Continue for views of Horseshoe Falls and Rainbow Falls, the highest point of the falls. Carefully pass Danger Point, right near the side of the cliff. And walk over the Victoria Falls Bridge, which crosses the Zambezi farther down the river, to see the massive falls in all their glory. A rainbow appears as you stand in the center of the bridge.
You probably think you’re done with the cliffs, but you’re really just starting. You’re also staying on the cliffs. Even farther along the Zambezi–plus 250 meters up–you’ll find Gorges Lodge. The lodge’s ten stone-and-thatch cottages have private gardens and verandahs right on the edge of Batoka Gorge. Wake up to the sound of Trumpeter Hornbills on your deck. Hold your breath as a baboon roams into the pool area. He’s hoping to find a treat. Put on a life jacket and hold on tight as you go whitewater rafting down the Zambezi’s Class I rapids. Spot elephants, hippos, and crocodiles along a tamer riverboat cruise. Or visit a primary school in town. The kids will melt your heart.
Regardless of how active you decide to be during the day, return to the lodge in time for sundowners. Lanner Falcons and Bat Hawks swoop toward their prey across the gorge. Sitting on the deck of the bar–despite your fear of heights–you inch closer and closer toward the railing to watch the gorge turn purple as the sky lights up in pinks. With a glass of Pinotage in hand, there’s no place you’d rather be. Even when you look down.