Home' Travel News : March 2013 Contents 22 travel news March 2013
Astonishingly her injuries were relatively superfcial. Even more astonishingly she didn’t
sue anybody; instead she now generates considerable income by delivering talks about
how young travellers must take out travel insurance. The Zambian Minister for Tourism
stepped up to the plate and, to demonstrate to the world at large that bungee jumping is
generally, despite appearances, very safe, also hurled head frst off the bridge. Happily
for the country's tourist trade -- and for him - he boinged back up.
The bridge was the brainchild of Cecil Rhodes who gave his name to that part of the
world then; Rhodesia. It was part of his lofty and, as it turned out, unfulflled Cape to
Cairo railway plan, even though he never visited the Falls and died before construction
of the bridge began. Rhodes' instructions to the bridge's engineers were to «build the
bridge across the Zambezi where the trains, as they pass, will catch the spray of the
Falls». The bridge was built in England, before being shipped to Beira in Mozambique
and transported on the new railway up to the Falls. It took just 14 months to construct and
was completed in 1905. It was opened by Professor George Darwin, the son of Charles
Darwin on the 12th September the same year.
Constructed from steel, is sports an enormous, graceful arch. You can do a tour of the
bridge; safety harnessed you can scamper amongst those huge metal struts whilst you
listen to the tale of this extraordinary engineering feat. Or you can stand, as I did, and
gaze upon its elegance. And then, to reward yourself for being brave enough to creep
across the Knife Edge, you can have lunch at the Royal Livingstone and a G&T on the
deck by the river whilst the Zambezi slips by towards it’s big fing and your children say
over and over, 'Aw, man, mum. I wish we were staying here'.
Even if you aren't venturing into Zimbabwe as we were -- and presumably even if you're
in Zim and don't want to pay for the visa to enter Zambia -- you can walk onto the bridge
and view the falls and gorge from your suspended position. Immigration will tell you
sternly that you can only go halfway, presumably only venturing as far as your prevailing
immigration position will allow. I can assure you, nobody's looking. Walk right across.
And -- if you dare (and I didn't) peer down at the bungee platform, the (clearly empty?)
heads of waiting jumpers and fend off the touts selling you souvenirs and safaris.
Victoria Falls sixteen years ago, when I frst visited, was different to the Vic Falls we
spent New Year in. It's a shabby shadow of its former self. It seems exhausted, cowed
by recent trials. The supermarket shelves bear testimony to the mess it's in and the
disintegrating dollar bills a metaphor for its economy. You don't get change in a Zim
market, you get a lollipop instead, they stand in ranks by the till. Sixteen years ago the
Zambians came south to shop. Now the Zims head north to stores that are bursting with
imported produce. But the hotels are still busy and the skies are still noisy, from dawn til
dusk, with the sound of the choppers that take guests on the Flight of the Angels.
There are lots of places to eat and drink and sleep here. But the very best is, indubitably,
the grand old Victoria Falls Hotel, for sheer opulence and glorious old fashioned grandeur.
We trotted the children in there for lunch (which means the snack menu with extra plates
of chips) and their mouths fell open, 'Aw, man, mum. I wish we were staying here'.
Alas, we were not. We were staying in a far less salubrious joint where a disconcerting
number of thugs dressed as war vets appeared to also be staying.
The view from the Vic Falls hotel is stupendous, across the gorge to that magnifcent
bridge. A resident family of warthog enjoyed the security of a palatial home with sweeping
A minister stopped by for lunch and demanded that his table be relocated to the same
lawns, beneath the sprawling shade of a huge fg. I don’t think there was a single guest
who didn't smirk when the rain came down...
Grand Old Dame - The Victoria Falls Hotel
The Royal Livingstone's Terrace
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