We flew out of Cape Town very early this morning to Johannesburg to catch a connecting flight to Victoria Falls arriving just after midday. There are certain destinations in the world that conjure up a picture in your mind, a feeling that is hard to describe and Victoria Falls is definitely that for me. I have visited this small town on many occasions and each time I return, I am stuck at once with the charm of this place. It is difficult to describe. Victoria Falls is a small country town and over the past 40 years has undergone enormous change along with the rest of Zimbabwe. It is not unusual to arrive and find that the electricity is off, there is no petrol in the pumps, food is in short supply on the shelves and there is definitely no money in the ATM’s. Yet, the people are charming and things do get done but at a much slower rate then most of us are used to but the magic of the place gets to you.
After settling in to our two bedroom apartment in the centre of town we walked down to the Victoria Falls Hotel. It is like stepping back to another era. The hotel was built in 1904 and was originally conceived to house the workers of the Cape to Cairo railway but this quickly changed and became a hotel for passengers from the newly built railway line. The hotel sits overlooking the gorges of Victoria Falls and offers spectacular views of the gorge, the Victoria Falls bridge and the spray from the falls. The Victoria falls is one of those grand hotels were you can sit in the Bulawayo room and read a book and beside a staff member coming in to make sure your drink is ok, no-one will disturb you.
The grounds are beautifully maintained which the local warthogs seem to appreciate as they wander around munching on the grass. There are always vervet monkeys in the grounds and the staff have to keep a close eye out for them as they will steal food from the tables. We took high tea on the Stanley Terrace looking out at the Victoria Falls bridge. This afternoon ritual has been going on since the hotel opened and I think very little has changed. Tea or coffee is served in beautiful pots and the three tired cake stand is presented with finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and an array of cakes to choose from. A wonderful way to relax and spend an afternoon.
Sunset drinks were at the Safari Lodge just outside of town and it offers the best views out over a wide expanse of national park and as we sipped our cocktails and watched the sun set a couple of elephants came down to the water-hole for a drink, a very out of Africa moment.