The relationship between the mind and body is interesting. As I stared up at the stairs looming before me, by mind said, they are just steps. Easy peasy. You just walk up them. No big deal.
I started my upward climb, but around step ten, the pressure in the arteries that lead from my heart to my lungs started to build. My body wasn’t circulating oxygen like it should, so I could no longer breathe. I stopped, gasping for air. I waited until I could breath normally again, and while I waited, my mind began again, it’s only steps. Steps are easy, just go for it, and the whole episode repeated, over and over again, until finally, after what felt like an eternity, I reached the top.
After feeling content that we sufficiently experienced the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls, we made our way to the Zambia side.
You can walk from the Zimbabwe entrance to the Zambia entrance. It is a bit of a distance, but doable.
The bridge that leads into Zambia, is quite the sight, and offers a stunning view.
We wanted to stay for a while and take in the view, but as soon as we stopped to snap a photo, we were descended upon by two touts.
Now it’s fine, I don’t mind people inquiring if I’d like to buy something, but these guys were pretty aggressive. They said that since we were Americans, and therefore rich, we should give them money just because we were Americans.
The rest of walk was a gauntlet of sellers and taxi drivers approaching us or shouting at us. There were also shops within the Zambia falls area, where people ushered us into their shops.
We kept a brisk pace, since time was dwindling, and we wanted to see as much of the Zambia side of the falls as we could.
Just as a note, you have to pay a separate entrance fee to get into the Zambia side of the falls, and they only take cash. They except U.S. dollars (the same currency of Zimbabwe), as do all of the vendors, so you don’t have to have Zambia currency if you are only visiting the falls for a few hours.
Where the Zimbabwe side of the falls had a pristine, familiar, tourist attraction vibe, the Zambia side felt more like a rugged adventure.
We were warned that we could be approached by someone pretending to be kind and helpful, giving us information about the falls. That person would then turn around and demand a tip for being our “tour guide.” We didn’t have any issues with this happening.
Since it was dry season, and there was a drought occurring, there wasn’t a lot of falls to see, but the views were inspiring none the less.
I’m a great lover of wildlife, but I still get nervous around animals of the monkey variety, so when we encountered our first congress of baboons, I felt uneasy. Soon we learned that, especially since we weren’t carrying any food, the baboons were friendly. I ended up taking just as many baboon pictures as waterfall pictures.
The babies were super cute.
On many of the paths it felt like we had a baboon entourage.
One of the main areas of the Zambia side of the falls, is the Boiling Pot. Instead of writing out what the Boiling Pot is, here’s the sign that explains it all.
To get to the Boiling Pot, you must hike down into the gorge. I noticed that we were climbing down a lot of steps, but the pretty scenery distracted me from just how many.
It was worth the hike, just to experience the beauty along the way.
When we reached the bottom, there was a park employee, who encouraged us to sign a book stating that we visited the Boiling Pot.
It was a fun sight seeing a desk and chair teetering atop the rocks.
The Boiling Pot is a neat sight. We stayed for quite a while, watching the water as it swirled around. If you stared long enough, it was hypnotizing.
As soon as I started up the stairs, I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t get very far before I was gasping for air. Now that I know what the problem is, it’s not as scary as it was in the beginning, but it is overwhelmingly frustrating. I had to stop constantly. Thankfully there were benches to rest on along the way. It took forever, but we eventually made it to the top. Once I wasn’t climbing anymore, I was back to normal.
After having zero issues while hiking in Panama and Costa Rica, having issues in Zambia was disappointing, and proved that I still need to be cautious when navigating my travels with my pulmonary hypertension.
While crossing into Zambia required nothing more than a quick stamp in our passports, returning to Zimbabwe involved filling out forms, and a substantial wait, in an endless, slow moving line, so be prepared. Give yourself plenty of time if you need to catch a bus or shuttle at a specific time.
We didn’t get to see everything on the Zambia side of the falls, as we ran out of time at the end of the day, but we enjoyed what we did get to see. It didn’t fit into our schedule this time around, but if we ever returned, I’d probably break the falls up into two days, visiting each side in the morning, as tackling both sides in one day left us exhausted.
I know some people say that the Zambia side of Victoria Falls is skippable, but I think that the views, baboons, and visiting the Boiling Pot, are worth the time.
If you need information on what visa to get in order to visit both sides of Victoria Falls, you can read my post: Africa Trip-Travel Days
If you’re looking for a great travel community to join, check out WeekendWanderlust