Of course you knew this was coming.
It was a early morning for us, with our ride coming over before 7 am. Seems cruel, and it was, but it was completely worth it. What we had in mind was the microlight (or microlight) and then going up close to the falls. The Victoria falls themselves. I remember learning about the wonders of the world and I added them all to the places I wanted to see. I didn’t even understand the concept of bucket list then, but it was right then that the falls were added to my list. I finally got to strike them off.
The microflight is a basically a tricycle with wings, and weirdly felt like a prototype that the Wright brothers may have made. It looks very fragile, and I did question how that thing would survive up in the air. Since I’m alive, I guess it works just fine. The ride was worth $155 and another $20 for the video, but I kid you not, it was one of the coolest things I’ve done. My pilot, whose name I unfortunately don’t remember, was this amazing German gentleman who are courteous and knowledgable. He was eager to show me everything and give me the best experience, and I am so thankful I got him as my pilot. I was the second to take off from the group of three, and I was content with my position. It was an awkward walk till the microflight because the jumpsuit was too big for me and didn’t zip up. However, the minute I was belted in and strapped up, it was worth it. It didn’t take long to take off, and to give credit to the pilot, it was a smooth take off. It was crazy, the way we went up with one little propeller that I was worried I would get my hair into. Within about a minute, we were up in the air and on the altitude we wanted, and getting closer to the mist in the air. The falls were getting so close, and it made me feel so happy. I’m pretty sure I totally told my pilot “this is fucking crazy”, but it’s all forgiven when you’re going to see the falls from up above.
The falls themselves. I don’t know how to wrap my head around what went down. It was a clear day, and the falls looked majestic. The mist looked like a cloud, and the falls I could hear even through the noise of the plane. There was this stunning rainbow, which followed us around. What’s better, I was told by my pilot that once a rainbow follows you, it remains with you forever. I don’t know if you noticed it, but there’s a rainbow on my head right now. Promise. My stomach did knot a little when I saw the height of the falls, and how the flight kept moving up and down a little. If I had fallen over into the Zambezi, before or after the falls, I would not have survived. However, I was too engrossed in the beauty of it all that I completely forgot about the dangers. Between the mist, rainbows and the gushing water, I felt a tranquility that I will treasure for life. When we took a few rounds around the falls, he asked me if I was comfortable and felt scared. After affirming my joy, the pilot made the decision to let me handle the flight for a while. Even though it lasted about 20 seconds, I did it. I am now officially a pilot. In the next few minutes, we saw a group of hippos (with a small little baby hippo) and some buffaloes and impalas. But my absolute favourite were the elephants. I waved out to the one closest, and as if it could understand, it waved its trunk at us. It was oddly satisfying.
After some crap with the management, which was completely stupid I might add, we moved on to the falls. The driver we had from Sunbird dropped us to the falls and even pulled over to show us an amazing view of the falls from a distance. Also, as we would discover soon, he came to drop us back to the house as well, out of courtesy. Oh, Zambians and their care for tourists melts my heart. The place itself wasn’t as crowded as I expected it to be, but it was fair enough, considering how we were early there. It was a good decision really, because there was a hike involved. The ticket for us was $20, which is nothing in the scheme of things. After passing through many baboons who took pleasure in stealing food from people, we started walking down the trail for the ‘boiling point’. Apparently, the forces of the fall make the water go in the opposite way creating an illusion of the water being boiled. It was a mild hike down, our only enemies being spiders, bugs and freakishly big lizards. I have so many photos of the place, and I have no regrets. When down, it looks like a rainforest full with all invertebrates. There’s bridges over streams, and tunnels formed with the trees bending down over time. Even if the destination wasn’t the bottom of the falls, I would highly recommend the walk. In all honesty, I was not very impressed with the boiling point. It was splendid, yes, but maybe it was the magic of the flight that was overshadowing the magnificence and importance of the boiling point.
We hiked back up, huffing and puffing, all of us just a bunch of unhealthy kids. We did make it up, and finally met the friends we were trying to coordinate with for hours now. Our housemates took a cab to the falls, skipping the microflight. When up, we met briefly and then split ways because they had seen everything we hadn’t. The Victoria falls walk was left, and we were warned early on about how drenched we would be. Giving my camera away, and using Katie’s ziplock for my phone, I put on the purple raincoat. It was a walk adjacent to the falls, and the mist reached across the path. At many places, especially a bridge, it was a storm. It was difficult to even look ahead straight and walk. But we did it. We walked the walk, and saw the power of the falls. They look beautiful from up, but their fierce nature is what one must experience. Though we were far away from the actual falls, we were absolutely drenched. Not once did I imagine it was possible for anything to be so powerful, but here I was, experiencing it. The sheer force of it stunned me, and I couldn’t stop thinking of it. I don’t think I would be able to forget that experience, never.
Victoria Falls, you are beyond words. Adjectives, atleast the ones in English, won’t suffice. So I will just use Nyanja – “Mosi-oa-Tunya” (the smoke that thunders)