Comparison 1964 vs 2006 Victoria Falls

joanstewart
joanstewart @joanstewart18 days ago · 9 min read
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Victoria Falls Southern Africa's Heart

Great Zambezi pumps life giving water into veins of Africa, do we appreciate the natural wonders of the world?

Modern Zambezi excursions offer adrenaline junkies white-water rafting, bungee jumping, abseiling, perhaps you prefer a flip in a helicopter, for me a walk in nature does fine.

Bungee - Not for Me.
Bungee - Not for Me.

1 of the 7 natural wonders in our world, sharing memories of my first visit in 1964, returning forty-two years later in 2006,(taking my husband to see this spectacular part of Africa for our thirtieth wedding anniversary). Time has changed a lot, don't allow places in nature become commercialized!

Rainbows
Rainbows


December 1964 my Mom an avid traveler arranged a three week train expedition (I can only refer to it as such, since who in their right mind takes four children 7, 9, 11 and 14 on self-catering holiday by train). Intense research I have since learned very few direct routes were available, what follows is the zigzag route (to the best of my memory and research).

Journey by train in December 1964; Johannesburg, Krugersdorp, Mahikeng (Mafikeng) (South Africa), crossing to Francistown (Botswana), up to Plumbtree (Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe), via Bulawayo, linking up to Victoria Falls (3 day stop over).

Back to Bulawayo, Salisbury (Harare), Umtali (Mutare), crossing over to Mozambique; Beira (2 day stop over).

Reverse down the line back into Southern Rhodesia, Salisbury (Harare), going via Gwelo (Gweru), Shabani, into Mozambique down to Lourenço Marques (Maputo) (3 day stop over with dignitary visit, not sure if it was the last visit of Portuguese President Américo Tomás).

Homeward bound via Komati Poort, Pretoria, Johannesburg (South Africa).

Rhodesian Railways - Victoria Falls - Zambezi River - Beit Bridge - Bulawayo - Beira - Mozambique Railways - Lourenço Marques Market - Portuguese Dignitary
Rhodesian Railways - Victoria Falls - Zambezi River - Beit Bridge - Bulawayo - Beira - Mozambique Railways - Lourenço Marques Market - Portuguese Dignitary


Reflecting back I recall Mom saying it was now or never trip, trouble was brewing to the north (as it happens reading now, the territories of Mozambique had already started), we never witnessed anything or perhaps were to young to realize anything untoward.

A memory I do recollect my brothers traveled in the coupe (2 sleeper) with my parents and two girls in next door compartment (4 sleeper), when traveling into Salisbury (Maputo) we were instructed to put the glass windows down and roll up the wooden shutters entering/exiting the station. Boys being boys looked out to see an armed force mounted on front and back of train, the whole trip went without a glitch, no turmoil evident, we were tourists...

Nothing will ever erase the smell of old train coaches, steam engine puffing away pulling the load up and down hills, wildlife was plentiful sitting at the window with wind blowing through your hair, being continuously told to watch your eyes for soot dropout. For some reason we never took many photo's of trains we traveled in every year up and down to the coast, nor on this very special trip, having photo's an added expense we could ill afford.

Talking of trains; In the collage diesel must have been very new, a sign of times changing from steam. A diesel locomotive in Mozambique used to haul us back to South Africa. Another vivid memory, on the Mozambique railway line ran air-conditioned units along one route, we ended up with some guy smoking cigars in the same carriage, it made us children feel quite ill, my parents were not impressed being non-smokers, give me windows that open!


Zambia Side
Zambia Side

Victoria Falls we roamed the bush paths to and from the bridge, freely crossing from one side to the other (no passports required on first visit with Southern and Northern Rhodesia), taking the steps down to the boiling pot looking up at the falls.

Zambia Side
Zambia Side

Our 2006 trip we found you could not drive across, expected to pay USD $1000 Insurance on top of vehicle rental, so we parked and walked with our passport in hand.

Well Kept Paths Zimbabwe Rain Forest
Well Kept Paths Zimbabwe Rain Forest

The motor vehicle hire company in South Africa never mentioned a word about paying additional charges to travel across borders to Botswana or into Zimbabwe which dashed a lot of our dreams exploring, however whether we would have got there was another problem with fuel shortages.

Petrol stations were closed in Zimbabwe with no fuel available!

Zambezi River
Zambezi River

Being South African flying up in 2006 it was very evident at customs that South African's were welcome, going through without stopping, while others arriving from Europe had long queues to wade through. Perhaps a well organized tour group is the easier way to travel in Africa.

Mist Above Wing In Distance Is The Falls From The Air
Mist Above Wing In Distance Is The Falls From The Air

Victoria Falls Airport - Currency Exchange Available Here
Victoria Falls Airport - Currency Exchange Available Here

Plan ahead, a quick phone call saved us a lot of frustration in obtaining advice directly from staff at the Lokuthula Lodges, take USD and ZAR was strongly advised, use Traveler Checks for converting into USD or Zim Dollars (during 2006).

USD was only currency accepted at hotels, booking helicopter rides, elephant outings, sunset cruise, plus other excursions.

ZAR was acceptable entering the falls on Zimbabwe side (R200 or $200 entry fee, work that one out at 14:1, hell yes ZAR was the fiat to ride on), buying beer and provisions in town you needed Zim Dollars.

Awesome Beer! Zambezi...
Awesome Beer! Zambezi...

Elephant ride what a humbling experience, only learned years later the elephants do suffer from human's riding them. Rehabilitation of orphaned elephants, we were mesmerized with the exceptional love and care given, one is only allowed to walk with these great beautiful animals today. Well worthwhile spending time supporting good efforts. Coco is still there helping new young arrivals to adapt, we humans learned a lesson not to use animals, help them survive never abuse their trust.

Coco with Orphan Baby Elephant
Coco with Orphan Baby Elephant

Coco's Footprint Made From Elephant Dung Paper
Coco's Footprint Made From Elephant Dung Paper

The old baobab tree is now cordoned off with fence this stood in the open.

There was one Livingstone statue 1964 on Zimbabwe side of the river, now both sides have a statue honoring the first European to see the falls.

Livingstone Statue - Zimbabwe
Livingstone Statue - Zimbabwe

Livingstone Statue - Zambia
Livingstone Statue - Zambia

First visit to Zimbabwe water level was exceptionally high, my Dad almost slipped and tumbled in the rain forest, on the second trip not flowing as strongly in month of May.

Zimbabwe have made significant upgrades to the rain forest paths and safety cables demarcated the area more clearly, looking after nature

Keeping Good Company On The Path - Mum Had Baby Riding Under Belly
Keeping Good Company On The Path - Mum Had Baby Riding Under Belly

Difficult to say whether staying in Zimbabwe or Zambia are the better, either way visa permit may be required to enjoy both sides, make inquiry about availability of transport for ease of movement.

Having a hired car allowed us to travel up the Zimbabwe side of the river through part of Victoria Falls National Park where we ended up in the middle of a herd of elephant moving down to the waters edge. We never saw another vehicle or person and enjoyed quality time along the river bank hearing a lizard plop into the water.

Sadly due to lack of petrol being available we did not go down to Wankie Reserve (Hwange National Park) which we traveled through/alongside by train in our youth.

Smoke That Thunders - Elephant in Water Mid-Stream
Smoke That Thunders - Elephant in Water Mid-Stream

At the end of each day we would travel down to the river to watch elephant frolicking in the water or on the waters edge, once we witnessed some swim across to the island.

Zimbabwe at the time had security everywhere, we never felt threatened on either side and had a wonderful stay.

Zimbabweans Are A Friendly Nation
Zimbabweans Are A Friendly Nation

Victoria Falls Town - As I Remembered Parts Of It
Victoria Falls Town - As I Remembered Parts Of It

Going into the future I hope this region remains wild, never over-run by tourists and development which is evident in what I witnessed from a small town, it has grown with Lodges and activities from every access point, fencing going up in areas we could walk enjoying nature are no more.


Places to stay in Zimbabwe

Casino In Victoria Falls Town
Casino In Victoria Falls Town

Makasa Sun Casino located within the Great Enclosure at The Kingdom at Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls Hotel a taste of the old world with a view of the falls.

Victoria Falls Hotel Courtyard
Victoria Falls Hotel Courtyard

Self catering Lokuthula Lodge in Victoria Falls. These RCI time share lodges can be hired at very reasonable rates, and are ideally located.

Lokuthula Lodges is a self-catering resort with 37 rustic thatched lodges located next to the prestigious Victoria Falls Safari Lodge.

The resort is situated in an un-fenced wildlife area and guests must be accompanied by guides when embarking on walks outside the perimeters of the resort. Guards patrolled the area day and night, when not driving for meals escorted you to the main hotel.

Shuttle service was offered to get into town daily, superb accommodation. Meals in the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge offered views over wateringhole with elephants silently gliding in below a panoramic view from above.

Address: Stand 471 Squire Cummings Ave, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Phone: +263 213 284 3201

Lokuthula Lodges and Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
Lokuthula Lodges and Victoria Falls Safari Lodge

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
Victoria Falls Safari Lodge

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge Looking Over Wateringhole
Victoria Falls Safari Lodge Looking Over Wateringhole

Enjoying an early evening meal one could watch the elephants ambling into the waterhole while enjoying your dinner.

Home for a week at Lokuthula Lodge
Home for a week at Lokuthula Lodge

Both upstairs and downstairs bedrooms came with mosquito netting, front door and upper bedroom window are canvas giving ambiance in being in the bush. The kitchen door was the only room which we were told to keep windows and door locked at all times to avoid being raided by monkeys.

Monkey caught red handed....
Monkey caught red handed....

People never listen, sitting outdoors enjoying lunch our neighbours home was invaded by the monkeys, warthog were waiting on the sidelines, the uproar that ensued was hilarious with warthog stealing from the stash monkeys had got away with. Local security armed guards roam between the houses day and night put paid to the rascals in no time at all. People returned to an empty pantry ha ha ha...

Warthog Family
Warthog Family

Peek into the lounge with canvas wall, kitchen in the background.

Canvas Walls
Canvas Walls

Lounge/Kitchen in Lodge
Lounge/Kitchen in Lodge


Accommodation used 1964

VicFalls Rest Camp
VicFalls Rest Camp

Fortunately we were allowed into the gates of the VicFalls Rest Camp after explaining I had stayed there for three nights in 1964, we were not allowed to explore which is understandable. Gardens appeared 'spic and span', high security evident all these years later.

To think we ran out of these very same cottages almost straight into rough bushveld, we walked the bridge, walked to the big tree on sand roads, now all under tar, great memories a life time away.

Budget is always something to take into consideration, there are superb references for more accommodation right in town.

Train Travel

Expensive, original way to enjoy going up to witness the region is still available by Train.


Comparison between 1964 and 2006 visits I felt compelled to write about, are we humans really wishing to have entertainment at every destination. Consider the knock on effect, lodges along with entertainment going up everywhere a place is no longer "wild"!

Perhaps due to humans one of the seven wonders of the world loses it's rightful place becoming another economic hub, churning greed, nowhere near what "The Sound of Thunder" deserves.


All photography is my own, taken with a Olympus Digital Camera C160.D395, collage photography by my parents who knows using what camera at the time.

I have no Affiliation to any links shared to assist travelers.

Sunset Cruise Zambezi River
Sunset Cruise Zambezi River


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jaichai
JaiChai @jaichai18 days ago

I used to think Victoria Falls was the largest waterfall site in the world until...

Kaieteur Falls:

Kaieteur Falls is the world's largest single drop waterfall by the volume of water flowing over it. Located on the Potaro River in the Kaieteur National Park, it sits in a section of the Amazon rainforest included in the Potaro-Siparuni region of Guyana.

Great images.

In Lak'ech,

JaiChai


10

Hard to say, some go by largest (width/height), some falls measured by volume of water spilling over.

This is interesting I went to take a look since I have not seen this set of falls previously @jaichai what a magnificent drop of water, in another spectacular part of the world.

Learning something new every day, Inga Falls on Congo River has the largest volume, thanks for peeking my interest.


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wales
wales @wales18 days ago

Looks like an amazing place to go visit.


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One definitely gets goose bumps taking in the power of nature here @wales


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almi
almi @almi18 days ago

Such a beautiful travel and a variety of great photography, thanks for sharing with us!


0

So glad you enjoyed the content @almi thanks for visiting.


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What an amazing post. Great reflection. Eco tourism has become a fashionable word, but I wonder how long can nature and tourists stay as a happy marriage.
Everything looks great, though. I also wonder how much of the money produced by tourism goes back to the people of those communities (in improvements of their way of life).
I loved the fact that you had all those great pictures from the 1964 trip


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How much money is driven back into local communities I could not say, many do find employment in an otherwise economically drained country.

Being a small area on the border of Zambia and Botswana I dare to say they are able to obtain certain necessary amenities possibly not available locally.

One thing for certain, glaringly obvious is Zimbabwe is no longer the bread basket of Africa. Prime beef in 1964 was of superb quality along with many fresh vegetables and fruit. Noticeable difference in 2006 was lack of beef, in preference ordering warthog stew when dining out, knowing the meat was fresh.


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Wow. Interesting. Thanks, @joanstewart. Here in Venezuela most touristic facilities are in ruin. The elite, as always keeps some jewels still working for them, but most resorts and other facilities, which used to provide amenities for the average folk, are out of business.


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Have and have not, those that have don't bother with those who have nothing, sad reality. Those who have are normally the ones involved with demise of country through corruption, still baffling to think countries with so many resources are struggling to see the light of day @hlezama


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Beautiful posts


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Thanks for visiting @tomb0171


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bengy
Bengy @bengy18 days ago

Are you kidding me? 3 week train ride with 4 kids?!?!?!?! You mother is either nuts or a heroine!

Anyway, it is some pretty impressive sights... the three week original journey must have been quite a formative experience, definitely something to remember for life!


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I am still dumbfounded how parents coped on the train, the journey to get there was a disjointed with many changes (relied on input from brothers and sister) took me months to research old train routes.

Original trip up was amazing, running through the bush barefoot never knowing what you would see around the next corner. Only scary moments, my Dad almost plummeting over the edge in the rain forest, and my oldest brother about to hurl a rock at a massive bee hive going down the steps to the boiling pot, other than that all was good at the end of the day.


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Oh my, that's a fantastic view!! And the baby elephant is so adorable.


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Orphaned babies are still going into the rehabilitation home with older elephants and human minders taking good care of them @joelai they are amazing animals, so caring of each other.


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I'm so glad to hear that they are being taken care of. They are amazing creatures!


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Sadly today elephants are not coping with lack of food and water in Wankie (Hwange) Reserve, 55 died in the last week.


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Oh no... That's very sad!


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Impressive your expedition to the waterfall, interesting to see how things have evolved after so many years. South Africa is fascinating and you made a wonderful blog.


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It is worrying to see development for human entertainment starting to alter a perfectly natural place @bluemoon, thanks for visiting.


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Yes, it is considered that this is progress, nature is a collateral victim.


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Sad but true!


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Yes!


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Great post here Lady Joan and glad that you also picked one of the 7 wonders.
I went there in the 80s, but via Chobe.
A great place in those years.
Blessings!


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That is where disappointment came in, we could not get over to Chobe, so close yet so far Stephen.

Train journey in 1964 bush was teaming with wild life.


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You been to Chobe Lady Joan?
At Gazankula there's an old steel ferry that loads the car and travels across the river to dock at the Zambian side.
A wonderful adventure, but a very far drive.
Blessings!


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Never been into Chobe, sadly was planned not achieved yet. Exceptionally long way to drive, perhaps consider a tour one day if we are lucky to go that far north again Stephen.


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Oh you have to see Gazankula at Chobe Lady Joan. They have some beautiful lodges there with wide open breakfast spreads. The joining point of four countries and once you cross the river into Zambia, the first little town is called Livingstone. A really unforgettable place with Elephants, Hippos and Crocs all over the place.
The nights are also filled with animal sounds.
Blessings!


0

That seemed a great adventure! I love waterfalls, and those are also on my places-to-visit list!


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There are some organized over land tours from Cape Town, through Namibia, into Botswana across to the Victoria Falls, depending on one's pocket and age it may be a good way to travel @pardinus


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I normally tend to travel without any organized tours, but I guess in some places it can't be done no other way. Still so many places to see! 😉 😂


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So much to see, so much to do, never enough time in a lifetime to do everything one would love to accomplish.


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True... but we can try! ;)


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