I woke up bright and early- before my alarm. I had intended on having a big sleep in to the lazy hour of 8:30am. Trust me, when you’ve been waking up before the sun even peeks up over the horizon, 8:30 is pure gluttonous luxury! I pulled on my tights and t-shirt and made my way over to the restaurant where I enjoyed a lovely full English breakfast.
With my belly full of bacon and eggs goodness I then made my way over to the lodge’s spa. You read that right. SPA. After 19 days of overlanding through Africa, I figured it would be a nice relaxing treat to have a Swedish massage, manicure and pedicure. I stripped down to my skivvies and got under the warm towel that lay on the bed and enjoyed the next 45min of having Adventure Lodge’s resident masseuse rub down my back and legs. It was wonderful and I enjoyed every last second of it. I then moved to the chair where the younger esthetician who would be giving me both a manicure and pedicure waited. She ended up painting all 10 fingers and 10 toes an obnoxious fluero pink! I slipped my brand new flip flops (that I had purchased in the lodge’s gift shop) over my freshly painted toes – thankful that my darn big toe that had been nearly destroyed back on day 8 outside Spitzkoppe had surprisingly healed up nicely enough that the damage was barely noticeable. After nearly two and a half ours of being pampered from head to toe, I said my thank you and gave my tips to the ladies and made my way back to the lobby where I was to meet Sue, Ken, Ivan and Shaun.
We walked into the central area of town and after I booked my bus ticket that would take me to Gweru, Zimbabwe in a couple days – where I would be volunteering at a lion conservation project with ALERT- we sussed out a fast food restaurant called Chicken Inn. The service was anything but fast. I guess they were on the infamous ‘African time’- much to our chagrin. Just as we received our food, we realized that we would have to run if we were going to make our next activity for the day. We gobbled down our chicken burgers as we sat in the back of a taxi that took us to the Victoria Falls gorge.
This was the part of the day where I didn’t necessarily break a promise to my parents- but managed to tiptoe around it on account of a technicality. Prior to leaving for Cape Town, my parents – avid news watchers and constant worrywarts – made me promise to NOT do the bungee jump at Victoria Falls due to the story in the news of the Australian girl who’s rope had snapped. Media reports said that after the cord snapped, she had plunged into the rapid moving crocodile-infested waters of the Zambezi River – yet although badly injured managed to live and tell the tale.
“I promise I won’t bungee jump at Victoria Falls.” I reassured them. The fact of the matter is that I’ve already bungee jumped and when I was in Queenstown, New Zealand – so it wasn’t something I was actively seeking out to experience again as I had already crossed it off my bucket list.
“So you’re going to do the gorge swing today?” he double-checked, smiling.
“Heck yes! I squealed excitedly.
“Perfect! Michael will come over and help you get into your harnesses. For now make yourself comfortable.” He said to me and pointed over to a bank of high top chairs overlooking the beautiful gorge that stood over 100m high.
I plopped myself down in one of the chairs and started psyching myself up for my leap 75m off the side of the gorge. Sue and Ken-ironically enough, two of the eldest in the group- had accompanied me as they were signed up to do the zip line which would take them across the length of the gorge and give them unparalleled views of the Zambezi down below. I was so proud of the both of them for being so adventurous and participating in their choice of adrenaline sport.
Michael, the man who would be ensuring I didn’t fall 75m to a very painful death, came over to me and introduced himself. He brought me over to two sets of harnesses that were laid out on the ground. He told me to step into the first harness and then expertly fastened all the buckles and straps. Once that harness was secured, he helped me into a second safety harness – this would be my back up. Once I was all strapped in and good to go, he led the way and Sue, Ken and myself – along with Shaun, who would be playing my cameraman during the jump- walked down the path to the gorge swing and zip line platforms.
Sue was the first to step up to the plate. She nervously listened to her instructions and for a few brief moments, I thought she was going to back out. She stepped out on the ledge and after a bit of coaxing let go and zipped along the cable that spanned across the gorge.
Just as her hooting and hollering started to fade into the distance, Michael asked if I was ready. Excitedly I followed behind him and he brought me to the gorge swing platform. He explained a few different positions I could take during my jump off the ledge and I settled upon the “superman” – which is actually more like the position you assume during the free-fall portion of a skydive. After Michael triple and quadruple checked that the ropes I was connected to were fastened and all safe he led me to the edge.
“5, 4, 3, 2, 1!” He shouted as I leapt off the edge of the platform.
For a few seconds I had that “holy crap, I’m going to die” feeling that your body instinctively gets as your brain processes that you’ve jumped off something really high with nothing but rocks and a fast moving river down below. But once the cord caught and I started swinging out over the Zambezi River I immediately relaxed and felt the adrenaline rush through my body. Laughing hysterically, I scanned the fast moving waters below me.
“THERE ARE NO F**KING CROCODILES IN HERE!” was the only thing I could manage to say.
After I lost momentum from the jump and I stopped swinging back and forth, I was winched back up to the ledge that I had jumped off of. Michael helped me get out of my harnesses and gave me a big high five. I was then free to go watch Ken enjoy his zipline across the gorge.
When we returned back to the first building we each had a complimentary beer and waited for the truck to arrive to take us back to the lodge. It was really nice to decompress and let the adrenaline that was flowing through my body settle down.
Upon arrival back at the lodge we had an hour or two before we were leaving for the last activity of our stay in Victoria Falls- doing the famous sunset booze cruise on the Zambezi. By this point in the day a few of our fellow Nomad Adventure Tour goers had already parted ways due to early flights. Christina, Anja, Ivan, Sue, Shaun, Christoph, Ken and myself were the adventurous eight who had signed up for the evening’s cruise. A van came to pick us up to bring us to the riverside where we would board our pontoon boat.
Like, our river cruise in Chobe, we boarded a pontoon boat – this one being a lot more flashy with it’s properly cushioned chairs and nice tables as well as a fully stocked bar to the rear which we were invited to drink from as much as we’d like. For the next two hours we drank, profusely and we spotted so many hippos – at such close distances from our boat. We even saw hippos having sex within meters of our boat- I was scarred for life. We watched a beautiful sunset over the river. I took a bit of time and chatted with a lovely older couple that was traveling around Africa –Judy and Jack from Australia.
I got talking with Judy; she said she was 75 and traveling with her friend Jack because it was a lifelong dream of hers. She told me that her husband had passed away a few years prior and since then she has been traveling with various friends seeing different parts of the world. We talked about our travels and exchanged stories. She was vivacious, full of life, and could keep up in the drinking department with the rest of us. She told me how her dream was to hike the Inca Trail in Peru and that she was going to start training for it when she returned to her home, outside of Melbourne. The more I talked to her; the more and more I felt such a strong connection. In some ways I saw her and what she was doing with her life and was so proud and could even see myself in 50 years. She was definitely one of the most interesting people that I’ve met in all of my travels.
After the cruise returned to the dock, we took the van to Shoestrings to have some dinner and drinks and to hopefully party our last night away. After eating some delicious pizza, we realized that the bar wasn’t getting any busier so we parted ways, some returned to Adventure Lodge to go to sleep, others stayed at Shoestrings, and myself, Anja, Ivan and Shaun returned to the lodge to have a few drinks at the bar. Since we were pretty much the only guests staying at the lodge, there was nobody else left in the bar. We played our own music over the loudspeaker, danced on the bar, and had Jealous – the bartender- serve us an array of different shots.
A few drinks in, Ivan got the great idea to jump in the pool. Not to let him outdo himself, Anja and I followed suit. I stripped down to my underwear and t-shirt and we all jumped into the surprisingly warm waters. It was all great fun, and we continued to laugh and drink and joke around, reminiscing about all of our adventures from the past three weeks until we eventually closed the bar and had nowhere else to go but to sleep.
The next morning came sooner than anyone expected. I woke up at 6:30 and made my way down to the dining room – here I would say goodbye to Ken, Jasmijn, Christina and Shaun who would be hopping on board Harrison, en route to Johannesburg. After a bit of confusion regarding the departure time, everyone ate their breakfast and tearful goodbyes were said, hugs were given and they made their way onto the truck – leaving behind Victoria Falls and us.
An hour later, Anja was being taken away in a taxi, en route to Livingstone – where she would be flying back to Cape Town to catch her flight back to Switzerland. An hour after Anja’s departure, it was Sue’s turn to say goodbye. I thanked her for being one of the best travel companions ever and promised that we would return to Africa one day. We exchanged hugs, and then she got into her taxi that would take her to the airport in Victoria Falls. Next, Christoph and Klaas-Jan said their goodbyes and left just Ivan and myself at the lodge. We wouldn’t be leaving until the next morning – him to Cape Town and myself to Gweru- a nine-hour bus ride away. We spent much of the day just wandering about Victoria Falls and relaxing – getting in some WIFI time. We had dinner at the lodge’s bar- but there was a fundraiser party going on with some live music and tons of people who were very fancily dressed. I felt out of place and when I finished my meal, said goodnight to Ivan and went to sleep.
The following morning it was my turn to say goodbye and leave Ivan behind – the lone adventurer from our Nomad Adventure Tours group. We hugged and promised to stay in touch – we had agreed that we would meet when I made my way back to Cape Town before departing Africa to return to my home-for-now, New Zealand.
As the car departed Adventure Lodge, to take me to the bus stop, I couldn’t help but smile as I remembered all the good memories I had of the previous three weeks exploring Africa with my own adventurous league of nations. I made a promise to myself that I would return to Africa one day and travel around with Nomad Adventure Tours once again – to see other amazing parts of the continent. I knew that Africa had forever become a part of my soul and in a few weeks when I was to leave the continent, I would be content knowing that while I left Africa, Africa would never leave me.
Start from the beginning! Click HERE for Day 1
**DISCLAIMER: While Nomad Adventure Tours did provide me with a discounted tour, all expressed thoughts, opinions and experiences remain my own.**
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