"Hey man, remember me? It’s me, King George. What are you up to today? Want some Zim dollars?"
This is the first time I met "King George", we just arrived in Vic Falls. He, and his royal army were trying to sell us Zim dollars, the once currency of Zimbabwe that has now broken down due to hyperinflation. You can pay with pretty much anything here, except with Zim dollars. You can even barter old t-shirts. If you want to be a billionaire for once in your life though, then you can do that here for a couple of US dollars. Or some old pieces of clothing. Or a hair tie. Vic falls was not quite what we expected it to be.
"Hey Mufaro, do we need a rain jacket for the Victoria Falls?", "No man, this is Africa you don’t need a rain jacket" - said our tour guide as we headed off down the street in the direction of the 108 meter high Victoria falls. Just some background information: Victoria Falls is the number 7 Natural Wonder of the World - It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is ranked as the number 1 place to visit in the Lonely Planet Guide, Southern Africa, 2013. And as for the rain jacket, here a piece of advice: if you are visiting the Victoria Falls in May, you NEED a rain jacket. The Zambezi is at its highest water level, walking around the falls is like walking through a wall of water.
There are a lot of activities to choose from here, if you’re willing to spend some money. Vic falls isn’t cheap. Also don’t expect an authentic African experience – the town is more of a hub for all sorts of adrenaline kicks. We had a good look around and then picked our poison: I was going for the gorge swing and Nikki decided to do the lion walk (all water activities were closed due to the high water levels).
Nikki: Right, walk with the lions, this will be easy. Lions have babies and we must only be walking with the cubs. Boy was I wrong. I rocked up to the Lion walk with my best sandals, only to be told I should be wearing closed shoes, What was I thinking? These are Lions – they have sharp claws, not to mention teeth. During a simple breakfast we were informed that the Lion population in the wild is being depleted and there is only a few thousand left. Little did I know about lions and the causes of their deaths. I thought they had no natural predators, but their predators have become humans and disease. I was given a stick – a tiny stick which would protect me from being bitten while walking, and then off we went down the dusty path. When two lions finally showed up, I started feeling really scared - these lions were already 12 months old. They pretty much just wanted to play with each other. One of them was not interested in being walked in the slightest while the other just sat there, probably thinking: "20 more minutes and we can get rid of these people." This was an amazing experience but of course I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Lions are wild animals and are meant to be free. Not walked with and patted like domesticated cats.
I skipped the whole lion thing. Too expensive, not really my thing - I went for the gorge swing. If you like these kind of things, you should definitely give this one a go – it’s great fun! A bit scary of course… but that’s the whole point, isn’t it?
We ended up leaving Victoria Falls without buying any Zim dollars, much to the dismay of King George. I don’t think we’re meant to be billionaires.