Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mosi-oa-Tunya...the Smoke that Thunders [Part 2 of the Rovos Rail trip]

  The Victoria Falls
received its World Heritage Site status in 1989.

The mighty Victoria Falls, so named by the English explorer, David Livingstone, is generally regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  This majestic waterfall, one of the world's largest, is situated on the Zambezi River, which serves as the natural boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Its African name, Mosi-oa-Tunya (literally translated as the Smoke that Thunders) originates from the Kololo people who inhabited the area long before the first White man saw it.

Of these falls, Dr. David Livingstone wrote, "No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight." (1855)

It was to this very place that we were headed, trundling through the night in the snug comfort of our beds on Rovos Rail's Pride of Africa, lulled into contented sleepiness by the clickety-clack-clickety-clack of the wheels traversing the railway lines.  Such a romantic way to much awaiting us ahead!
The Smoke that Thunders...
Please click the read more button below to continue ;)
We were booked into the Victoria Falls Hotel, popularly known as "the grand old lady of the Falls."

As a young child, I had spent a night there with my parents and I wanted to recapture those memories of long ago and share them with my own family who, prior to this trip, had never been there before.

Front facade of the Victoria Falls Hotel...
The view from the front verandah of the hotel looking towards the bridge...

A path leads directly from the hotel to this spot - the bridge spanning the gorge links Zimbabwe to Zambia.
Looking down into the gorge below.  
The hotel and grounds are expansive!  Come and join me on a leisurely stroll...
Here we are at the far end of where we were in the picture above.

This is one of the inner courtyards...

Same courtyard, but seen here from the opposite end.  Main hotel on your left, administrative block to your right.
This is the enclosed garden area adjacent to the huge swimming pool.  We enjoyed most of our lunches out here.

This is one of the other wings of the hotel, with beautiful courtyard gardens punctuating each wing of the building.
Looking from the grounds of the hotel towards the exterior facade of the newer wing we were viewing in the picture above.  The pathway is dotted with vervet monkeys.  They had babies and were very active in this part of the garden when my husband took this picture.

Same area, just standing further away.
This is a close-up of one of the courtyard gardens in this wing.
If you arrive by car, this is the entrance to the hotel.  We arrived by train.  The station is immediately to your right, so a very short stroll into the hotel grounds ;)

The entrance to the hotel.  This building houses the administrative functions of the hotel and it is here that guests are checked in.
Looking back from the inner courtyard towards the hotel check-in area. Behind us, is the main hotel.

Evening softly casts her rosy hue and beckons all to enjoy cocktails out on the wide verandahs out front.

I think we should take a walk inside the main area of the hotel now, as there is lots to see there, too!

Just look at that view through the open doorway ahead!  This is what you see when you first step into the hotel, after you've been checked through at the administrative block.
This is the main lounge in the original section of the hotel - we stayed here, with our upstairs rooms overlooking the view through the doors, ahead.
One of two formal dining rooms.  There are a number of options elsewhere throughout the hotel.  We enjoyed a wonderful evening here!

The lounge with the Stanley Room leading off, ahead (this is the hotel's bar).  Directly behind us, is the Bulawayo Room, where Champagne cocktails are served each evening.
The Bulawayo Room.

Our rooms were in this section, with views of the Victoria Falls.

 The hotel has many staircases. 
There are many modern hotels from which to choose, but we specifically wanted to experience the original hotel that was built in Colonial times to imbibe the history and grandeur of that era.  Coupled with the Rovos Rail trip, it felt in many ways as though we had been transported into the past.  

Now, I hear you exclaiming..."But the title of this post is the Smoke that Thunders!!!  When are you going to show us more of the falls?"

Right at this moment, as it so happens...I'd merely wanted to set the scene, in the context in which we'd experienced everything. I will, however, need to do a couple of extra posts to fit in everything I'd planned to show you. For now, I'll leave you to enjoy a few of the hundreds of pictures my husband and son took of our visits to the falls...

This is a place that, once it's touched your soul, you'll always yearn to return to...the experience cannot be adequately captured in words or on truly is something each one must experience personally! 

All pictures are the property of my husband, each one his own work.
  I am grateful to him for allowing me to use them on this blog.


  1. The old hotel is marvelous, with monkeys scampering the grounds! But the Falls, wow! The pictures are impressive, especially that last one, but I'm sure it's still hard to capture the thrill of actually being there to see this natural wonder!

  2. Oh to see such sights in person! How wonderful that must be! Probably makes Niagara Falls seem like a dripping faucet! :) I'm kidding...(just in case someone from there see's this comment!)

    Did you know..that they can actually turn off Niagara Falls now? That NEVER fails to amaze me. They had to do it to do some repairs from erosion.
    What wonderful posts! Visiting you is like going on vacation. I love it!!

  3. Incredible! The man made grandeur of the hotel is surpassed only by the natural grandeur of the falls. I wish I could hear and feel them through the photos. Wonderful!

  4. When i am old and rice......i come to visit your beautiful country !!!...hahhahahhah!! what i see here verry much !!!

  5. What a brilliant name for the falls - so descriptive. I think it should go back to being known like that - old Victoria has enough claims to fame (as evidenced in my blog!)

  6. What a gorgeous hotel! The grounds are just amazing. I've mostly only seen long shots of Victoria falls taken at the bottom looking up so it was interesting to see some different pictures of it.


    I woke up to all six of your delightful comments today and am feeling so chuffed that you're all enjoying this trip down memory lane with me. Sharing it with you is giving me a chance to relive it all over again.

    I'll be working on Part 3 today - it should be uploaded by tomorrow.

    Thanks again for visiting!

    Hugs to you all,

    Des xoxo

  8. Wow! I am soooo jealous, but happy for you!!

  9. It must be breathtaking to be able to see and hear the falls thundering. The hotel is magic and as you say it is like a place out of the past.
    Great pictures and description. I would love to do that day, if I don't run out of them or money.

  10. After reading about your German shepherds (and their love of travelling in cars) at Jo's site I just had to stop by for a visit! We have been blessed to have had two fabulous German Shepherds but sadly the second one passed on last summer (the first one 9 years ago). We miss him (them) so very much. Someday... we hope to get another one. But for now we have a little kitty cat and I love reading about other's German Shepherds! Scrolling down I saw your Toby... he's gorgeous (so like my Harry!). Give him a big hug for me! (And please put lots of pictures in your blog for me to enjoy!)
    PS This photo and history is fabulous!

  11. Thank you for taking us on a most wonderful blog trip! I went to the Falls in my gap year before college and it is unforgettable. We were students and couldn't afford The Victoria Falls Hotel, but I remember going in to have a quick look and thought then I must stay here one day.

    The photos are fabulous, but nothing beats standing there, getting drenched by water flying upwards!

    Such a tragedy the country is reduced to such miseries now.

  12. Wow , very romantic time and an experience I'll never have, but can look thru your eyes and see it. thanks much, Gina

  13. Oh my, Desiree, what a wonderful post again! Tugged at my heartstrings from when I was a child living in Southern Rhodesia. We never got as far as the Vic Falls and my hubby and I almost made it on our motorbike in 2009 (only our fuel tank didn't have a long enough range) Thanks for this divine posts and congratulations to your hubby for the beautiful photos of the "smoke that thunders" Blessings Jo


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