I spent less than 48 hours in Victoria Falls, but I managed to squeeze a lot in to that 48 hours! Arriving on a Saturday afternoon to the Victoria Falls airport on the Zimbabwe side of the Falls, I waited an annoyingly long time for my airport shuttle to whisk me away to my hotel, the Ilala Lodge.

I picked Ilala for a few reasons, the most important of which being it was just a short walk from the entrance to the Falls (from what I can tell, overall that is a plus to staying in Victoria Falls instead of in Livingstone on the Zambia side).  I also found a good deal on Hotels.com and had a coupon, so that helped too! Ilala also made it possible for me to book several activities in advance, which I really appreciated given how little time I would be there.

Although I arrived around noon, it was close to 2:30 p.m. bythe time I made it to my room – just enough time for a quick nap and evenquicker shower before departing for a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River.Despite some jetlag, the cruise was a great start to the trip. It was on asmall houseboat with just me, two couples and two women with a couple adorablekids. Our choice of adult beverage and a selection of light snacks wasincluded. It was cloudy, so there wasn’t much of a sunset, but we floatedleisurely past a group of hippos and even got close to an elephant munchingaway on grass on the side of the river. My first elephant in the wild!

The next morning, I was up early to head to the Zambezi for a canoe trip. Now, you may have recently read about an American tourist who was attacked by a hippo during her trip to Africa. It just so happens I took my canoe trip on the same river with the same company on this trip back in April 2017.

(Spoiler alert: I was not attacked by a hippo).

Not only was I not attacked by a hippo, I barely even saw any hippos while paddling down the fourth longest river in Africa. But that didn’t make it any less scary. It was raining when we departed for the Zambezi, driving through Zambezi National Park on our way to the launch spot several miles upriver. Before we got into the canoes, we listened to a short safety briefing, grabbed life jackets and packed our valuables away in the jeeps we came in. I kept my iPhone with me in a plastic, waterproof case, but I didn’t want to risk something happening to my DSLR.

The canoes were inflatable and since our group had an odd number, I got to ride in a double canoe with our guide (I was slightly terrified to start with, so I did not want to be in a canoe all by myself!). This was great until he decided to stop and take a bathroom break along the river bank while the rest of the group continued ahead, leaving us far behind and needing to paddle like crazy to catch up! And while the river was mostly calm, we hit what felt like enormous rapids to me (they were probably small rapids to anyone else) and I freaked out, screaming with terror as I was convinced the canoe was going to capsize every time we went over a wave. My guide, however, found this hilarious and just laughed the entire time. After a couple hours on the river, we stopped for a delicious barbecue lunch before driving back through Zambezi National Park to the hotel.

After the canoe trip, I barely had time to shower and warmup before it was time to head out for a helicopter ride over Victoria Falls. Isplurged on the 25-minute ride and it was well worth it, flying not just overthe falls, but also over the national park, which allowed us to spot dozens ofanimals from up above! And even on a cloudy day, flying over the Falls wasspectacular.

I returned to Ilala Lodge around 5 p.m. and decided tofinally venture out on foot to see the town, which took about 15 minutes! On mysecond lap around, I spotted a barber shop that had a sign for pedicures. Indesperate need of some new polish on my toes, I popped my head in to see ifthey had anyone free to give me a pedicure. Ten minutes later, atwenty-something girl appeared with a bucket of water for me to soak my feet inas she gathered a variety of pedicure tools and a few polish colors for me tochoose from. As she did my pedicure, I listened in on the surrounding “barbershop talk,” which included a heated argument about rules and timekeeping inEnglish Premier League football!

I wrapped up my time in Victoria Falls the next morning byfinally visiting the Falls themselves. I went around 6:30 a.m., shortly afterwhat would have been the sunrise if it hadn’t, once again, been completelycloudy. I spent about an hour walking along the main path and stopping atseveral viewpoints for pictures and some video. Because it was late April andthe Falls were incredibly full, I wore a poncho and only brought my iPhone, againprotected by a waterproof case, prepared to get soaked (I didn’t).

People way more intrepid than I can bungy jump off this bridge!

By mid-morning, I was back at Ilala Lodge, packing my bagsand getting ready for my ride to Kasane, across the border in Botswana, where Iwould continue my trip with a few days in the famous Okavango Delta. While mytime in Victoria Falls was rushed, I feel like it was the perfect amount oftime with the perfect number of activities. There wasn’t anything I reallywanted to do there that I didn’t have time to do. The only thing I would’vechanged was the weather!

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