A trip to Zimbabwe and Botswana
I don't know if you ever listened to Toto's song, Africa, but if you didn't, it starts by painting a vivid picture of a land sun-baked and blessed by rains, where the wild dogs howl to the moon and the mountains rise like Gods to meet the timeless skyline...or something like that (you can listen to it in the background here for a more atmospheric read).
Africa for me was a mind-opening experience that made me realise how beautiful nature and our surroundings are and how fine God's craft has been in sculpting and painting the animal kingdom.
My first touchpoint was mystical Zimbabwe, a landlocked southern African country boasting diverse wildlife and dramatic landscapes and curious and welcoming folk wherever you turned. And there it was, our first stop, the legendary Victoria Falls, home to the world-famous waterfall known by locals as "Mosi-o-tunya" - in translation, the "smoke that thunders".
We landed at the small local airport where we were greeted by local singers and got on a minibus ready to go to Victoria Falls Hotel (possibly one of the most charming hotels I ever stayed in and the oldest in Zimbabwe - or "Zim" for the connoisseurs). We left our luggage in our strikingly colonial room and seized the chance to sip a G&T in the shade before we were whisked away by our driver to go on a cruise of the Zambezi river.
It is now a good time to mention that during our brief G&T pit stop at the hotel, we saw impala, meerkats and lots of the Lion King's friends, the Pumbaas, which are technically called warthogs. Many more animals followed over the next few days, one more beautiful than another.
We made it onto the river cruise and slowly started drifting away on the Zambezi river, casually going past hippos, crocodiles and finally, coming across an elephant crossing the border into Zambia without a passport... (by the way, if you don't think this joke is funny, then take it out with the locals as they all seem to be going hysterical about it :). As the saying goes, Hakuna Matata!
Dinner at the hotel was wonderful but the memory was rather blurry as we were truly exhausted after a lengthy flight, a river cruise and no time to unwind (save for the G&T). I believe we slept rather uninterrupted and woke up refreshed and ready for our next adventure.
We got picked up by our lovely guide who drove us over to the biggest curtain of falling water in the world and initiated us into the charms of what Livingstone once called the most beautiful sight in the world: a waterfall so great and loud that it can be heard from over 40km away. One can only imagine its grandeur and splendour and yet here we were, completely spellbound.
We enjoyed the full day exploring the surrounding area and went out in the evening for dinner to the restaurant with the best view in the world - the Lookout (I'm possibly exaggerating but definitely not by much - check it out on their website - their food is also sublime!).
The following day we took a day-trip to Botswana for a double safari (river and land) in the famous Chobe National Park. The park is an absolutely unspoilt playground for our animal friends and I think it is one of the few places where my mind was constantly challenged by what my eyes were telling it - if you've been on a safari before you might remember that feeling of spotting the first elephant and the upcoming realisation that there are so many of them and they are everywhere - that's what struck me - we were the guests here.
After a delicious lunch at a camp in the middle of Chobe, in the evening we stopped by The Three Monkeys, another local favourite where we tried the trio of sliders which included - beef, game and crocodile (don't judge - it was absolutely delicious).
What an unforgettable adventure!