We tried to have an early breakfast in peace, overlooking the river, but there were several loud people that killed the serenity. We can't fathom why they needed to talk so loud – there was literally no one else around, and no noise other than some birds chirping and the faint sound of the river. At breakfast, we went out of our way to leave a large tip for Collence, but were initially rebuked – apparently there was no way to leave a tip, as the tip was a standard 10% included in the price of the food. We ended up having to go up to the front desk to leave an extra tip – we hope the extra attention alone got him some accolades.
We were taken over to the Zambia-Zimbabwe border, where we went through immigration. The border itself was very simple – a rusty bent double gate. We passed over the bridge where crazy people bungee jump – none for us. When we got to Zimbabwe, we went from one bus into another, and wished Joshua farewell and got introduced to Hondo, who showed us the Zimbabwean side of the falls. We initially walked well east, near to where we finished up yesterday. Then we walked back westwards, against the flow of traffic. The falls were much more impressive from the Zimbabwe side, which created a constant mist. We had to time our pictures for when there were lulls in the wind. Hondo told us that the wind usually blows from the East or Northeast in this area, so the Zimbabwe side gets the majority of the mist. It was so misty in one place near the main falls that there was what has to be the world's smallest rainforest – probably no more than 250 feet by 150 feet. Once we got to the far end, past Devil's Cataract, there were steps down to a good vantage point where you could look down the chasm. Some of the better shots from the morning included:
We left the park and took a short tour to check out a massive Baobab tree that Newman had told us about when we were at Chitabe. It was indeed massive, and we took a picture including our van for some perspective. We went from there to the airport. The roads were far better than in Zambia, and overall the infrastructure was much more advanced in Victoria Falls than in Livingstone, despite the recent downturn in the economy.
We were just driving through the forest when we made a right turn, and then there was a major airport right in front of us – it came out of nowhere. We tipped one of the porters there, and he made sure that we went to the front of the line for our bags, and watched over us while we waited for our flight. The lounge area was quite empty, with almost no food in the restaurant, no drinks in the bar, and no gifts in the gift shop. The flight from VFA to JNB was bumpier than most of the Sefofane flights, which was disconcerting since the plane was so much bigger.
When we landed, we found out that our hotel was both extremely close to the airport and also a 5 star hotel attached to a casino. When we got there, it looked like something you'd see in Las Vegas, and we were happy our travel agent Julian had picked it out. Then we got into the room, which looked very nice. But the water did not work, nor did the WiFi. So we couldn't clean up, nor could we upload any of our photos or check the news. We had set aside a favorites folder, so that we could at least upload some of our better shots in case we lost the computer and/or our cameras. We called the front desk, and found out that there was a general power failure in the area. So everyone just went off and did their own thing while Justin caught up on the diary.
The power came back on shortly before dinner, but there was still no WiFi. We walked around the shops, which looked like the Forum Shops at Caesar's, including a statue of David. We ate at Spur, which was recommended by Steve, who drove us from the airport. The ambience was more than a little different than we expected. Every hour on the hour there was line dancing by all the employees. This, combined with the fact it was in a hotel eerily reminiscent of Caesar's Palace, was a bit odd, but very entertaining. Given where we had spent the last two weeks, plus where we were going, this was the complete opposite end of the spectrum.
We left for Johannesburg airport expecting a five minute trip, an empty airport, and a breeze through all the lines. We got two out of the three. It was a five minute trip and there was an empty airport, but Kenya Airways prevented us from breezing through the lines. There was mass confusion on their end regarding our tickets. First they asked where our paper tickets were, and we responded there were no paper tickets because it was an e-ticket. Then they went into the computer and found that, then said "Oh, I see, your tickets were prepaid," and then told us that they had sent us paper tickets, and where were they. Then they said that the tickets had not yet been paid for, which made no sense because two minutes earlier they said they had mailed them. When confronted with this conundrum, they adamantly stated that the tickets had not been paid for and had not been issued. Fortunately Steve, our Journey Beyond contact, was still there, and he tried to sort it out, but to no avail since it was almost midnight. In the end we just purchased the tickets again, and told Kenya Airways and Journey Beyond to sort out whatever snafu there had been.