Victoria Falls Safari Lodge

Article By: Gillian McLaren
Fri, 19 Aug 2011 7:45

It is five o‘clock in the evening and the sun is streaming down on us as we sip our sunset drinks in the swimming pool. Guests are reclining on the deck chairs, eating the snacks provided by the bar. There is a sense of excitement in the air.

“There they are”, cries Peter as he untangles himself from the embrace of his new wife, “ Look!” There is a stir amongst the guests and we all eagerly scan the horizon and see a great cloud of dust, reflecting the fading light.

The buffalo cautiously wend their way to the water hole and the braver animals begin to drink lustily, as the others look round cautiously. Slowly a few wade into the water, making space for others to slake their thirst. It is an idyllic scene from the wooden decks of Victoria Falls Safari Lodge.

The buffalo retreat and vanish in a coloured swirl of dust, and the thrill of the scene is discussed and friendships are forged; a promising start to a wonderful trip. After watching the large water hole the entire afternoon and being entertained and delighted by a passing parade of birds – including the resident Marabou storks – and a variety of animals, my husband Grant and I agree that this is nirvana for us.

We had heard good reports about Victoria Falls Safari Lodge from both foreign and local friends. A perfect base to enjoy all that the Zimbabwean side of the Falls has to offer. We caught the shuttle bus into Victoria Falls town, and explored the pretty precincts. In the market with local arts and crafts, we had a chance to practice our bargaining skills. We were rather disconcerted when we passed three bull elephants, quietly grazing near the Falls bridge.

A policeman nearby re-assured us that they are regular visitors and simply ignore the tourists. I remember when I lived in the USA that I was frequently asked if we had lions or elephants in the streets of our town. It amused me to think that the citizens of Victoria Falls could confidently answer “yes” to that!

The Falls are overwhelmingly beautiful, and no surprise that they are heralded as one of the natural wonders of the world. The sheer volume of water, the height of the spray and the depth of the gorge defy description. I have been to Niagara Falls in the USA and, although it is splendid, it does not have the wild, raw beauty of Vic Falls. And the excitement does not stop at the sight of the falls: our new friends Peter the buffalo-crier and his “angel” bride – were adventurous and tried the bungee jumping and flying fox across the ravine, which they said was exhilarating. We decided to take their word for it.

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge is designed in a semi-circle around the water hole, meaning that one is seldom out of view of the action. The thought of missing the opportunity to identify – from our room – the various ghostly shapes gliding around the water, left me reluctant to sleep.

The restaurant, too, is high above the water hole and has open sides, so one has a cool breeze and unhindered view of the bush. There is a flurry of activity at the waterhole at lunchtime, when meat is put out for the vultures. They gather well before the meal arrives, then pounce on the meat and fight for the bits. We saw white-backed, hooded and lappet-faced vultures and a tawny eagle.

Grant and I enjoyed the food, especially the local fish. We really liked the waiters, who are all well-spoken, efficient and pleasant conversationalists. After casually mentioning that it was our wedding anniversary trip, we returned to our room to find champagne on ice.

No matter what time of day, some drama is unfolding the waterhole of Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, and what better way to watch it than with a glass of champagne in your hand?

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