Part 1, Victoria Falls, from Zambia and Zimbabwe…Two totally unique experiences…ATM issues…

Alas, we arrived at the magical splendor of Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

These sharp rocks are along the land bordering the falls in the shallower areas to keep the elephants from crossing from Zimbabwe to Zambia.

It’s Saturday around 5:30 pm. A few hours ago, we returned from our almost all-day visit to Victoria Falls from both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides, each very different from the other.

As we drove along the two-lane highway toward Victoria Falls National Park, we could spot the spray at a distance. Wow!

We’d undoubtedly recommend visitors to this awe-inspiring site, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, to experience the views from both countries. One would be missing out only to see the falls from one of the two countries.

At the beginning of our long hike, the views continued to grow in their magnitude the further along we progressed.

It was a tremendous amount of walking up steep, hilly, and rocky areas, particularly from the Zambian side.  Later, when we entered Zimbabwe, a much easier hike, we were grateful we’d decided to see the falls from both countries. 

The power of the roaring water is breathtaking.

Our tour guide on the Zambia side is Alec from Chris Tours, who’d also collected us from the airport yesterday afternoon. Based on visa requirements, he could not accompany us to Zimbabwe but will be handling our transportation for our remaining tours.

In the shallow area of Victoria Falls, we were gifted with a rainbow, but this was the first of many we saw throughout the day.

After completing the falls tour in Zambia, Alec drove us the short distance (basically across the Zambezi River) to Zimbabwe. Although we’d already paid and received visas for entrance into Zimbabwe, we still had to go to the immigration office at the border to get our passports stamped for entry and then again, later when we departed.

As we continued on the path with many steps and rocky surfaces, we look forward to the upcoming enormous expanse of the falls and yet enjoyed these sightings along the way.

This process was somewhat disorganized, but after all, we always say, as others do, “This in Africa.” Things aren’t necessarily as organized or as seamless as they may on other continents, in other countries. We go with the flow, no whining or complaining and working our way through the process the best way we can.

This morning, we had an incident that reminded us that “This is Africa” when we went to an ATM to get cash to pay for our tours. We’d spent a 25% deposit when we’d initially booked the tours with the intent of paying the balance when we arrived in Zambia via getting Zambian kwacha from an ATM once we arrived. The tour company doesn’t accept credit cards, per se (see below for explanation)

Dr. David Livingstone’s presence is felt everywhere in the massive national park. There will be more on him in stories to come.

This should have been an easy process. When Alec drove us to a local ATM early this morning, Tom got out and approached the machine at a bank. It “ate” his card claiming the process “had timed out.” Tom already knew how many kwacha he needed to get to account for the balance we owed at around ZAR 7003 (US $572). 

There are numerous signs throughout the park explaining a myriad of historical, geological, and geographical facts.

There was no reason, on our end, for this to occur. Alec drove us back to the hotel to get my ATM card which was locked in the safe. Tom quickly ran inside and grabbed the card. We headed to another ATM. 

Once we entered the card, Alas, we discovered we couldn’t get more than 800 kwacha from the machine per day, which is only ZAR 989.47 (US $80.82). We’d have to find another seven ATMs to use to get enough cash to pay Chris. Now, we had a measly 800 kwacha. 

At this point, we weren’t too wet.  Future photos will show us soaked to the gills.

We later discovered that ATMs in Zambia don’t dispense large sums of cash due to security reasons.  We’d encountered this exact scenario while we were in Buenos Aires, where we could hardly get any money at one time.  This has nothing to do with our bank or our card. It’s predicted by the ATM and the bank’s decisions.

Chris trusts we’ll pay, but we won’t be able to pay him until Tuesday since we’ll be out on tours all day on Monday when we can do what we’d done in paying a deposit…signed a credit card authorization form which he can take to his bank and get the cash. 

The sounds of the falls are near deafening but music to our ears as we reveled in the beauty of this magnificent place.

It is inconvenient for him (and for us), but when a company doesn’t accept direct credit card processing for payment, this is what may transpire. Most tourists coming to Africa and other countries obtain cash from their “home” banks and bring it with them. 

Well, folks, we can’t walk into our US bank and walk away with cash we’d need to visit a particular country.  That’s one of the many realities of traveling the world. It’s not always fun and exciting.

Clay model, display of Victoria Falls.

However, once on our way, we had an exceptional experience at Victoria Falls in Zambia, and tomorrow, we’ll share the outstanding experience with Webster, our guide in Zimbabwe. He can be reached at this link or via this email address.

We look forward to sharing many more photos from our two tours of Victoria Falls. Soon, we’re heading out to dinner at one of TripAdvisor’s top-rated restaurants in Zambia, and over this week, we’ll share food photos and dining experiences as well. Please check back tomorrow.

Have a spectacular weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, May 12, 2017:

It’s imperative to stay within the white Royal Caribbean logo on the blue platform to avoid the risk of injury from hitting the sides, so say the Flow Rider Experts, as shown in this post one year ago. For more details, please click here.