Victoria Falls, a quaint town home to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, was transformed into festival central over the New Year period. The atmosphere hummed with excitement, music from multiple genres filled the air and the streets teamed with brightly dressed party goers. Land Rovers wound across the busy roads, packed with adrenaline seekers as they made their way between the rafting excursions, gorge swings, helicopter rides, and various pool parties dotted around the town.
The 3-day event came to life on the edge of the mighty Zambezi River. Beneath the surface of the glistening ripples live countless fish, crocodile and hippo. Birds dip and dive among the indigenous green trees that proudly overlook this impressive body of water. It is the ideal location to mark the start of the three-day extravaganza. There is no better way to spend an afternoon than lazing by the banks of a slow flowing river, listening to the gentle background music of talented DJ’s, with a refreshing drink at hand. The moon eventually took its place in the sky, and in small groups, people returned to town and pay a visit to the vibey Shoestrings Backpackers Lodge and Mvu bar, where the festivities continued into the early hours of the following morning.
On day two the Jameson Vic Falls Carnival raced on at full steam ahead with the popular party train, which took off on the 30th. Hundreds of people made their way to what can only be described as Grand Celebration Station. Waving their luminous purple wrist bands in the air above their heads, people leapt aboard the ride of a lifetime. Hogwarts Express pales in comparison to the party train, which was equipped with bars, music and hundreds of enthusiastic passengers. The train made its way to Jafuta, where a stage and strobe lights awaited the train. The high-pitched whistle of the train could barely drown the sound of the powerful music pouring from the speakers at the front. The smell of frying burger wafted across the eastern end of the party, while the sound of ice clattering into cooler boxes sounded at the west, where people were served their drinks in the light of the setting sun. Local DJ’s transported the crowd on a musical journey that only ended once the final train was ready to make its final departure home at 1 o’clock in the morning.
It is hard to believe that this was just the warm-up so the main event.
Like children to the Pied Pipers tune, so the carnival troopers danced their way onto the field where the NYE party unfolded. Feet pounded the earth from dusk until dawn as music from Locnville, Sketchy Bongo, GoodLuck and many more artists engulfed the crowd. The various food stalls also got a fair amount of attention as the night wore on and the munchies kicked in. People were lured off the dance floor by the delicious aroma of frying burger patties, and returned revitalised and ready to party on. The lights emanating from the stage gave the carnival an almost surreal feel. The vibrant colours washed over the dancefloor and swirled across the stage, reaching high into the navy blue sky towards the millions of stars that watched the carnival below. During the countdown into the new year, a soft mist drifted down, refreshing the party so that they could carry on dancing into the eagerly anticipated new year.
The Jameson Vic Falls Carnival is as unique and special as the town in which it takes place. The earth’s natural beauty flourishes here and can be seen everywhere, whether you are strolling through the rainforest, hurtling through the rapids or plunging into African air at the edge of a bungee cord. There is a marriage between cultural diversity and musical talent that leaves listeners with new found musical taste. Everyone you meet at the carnival is excited, friendly and ready for an adventure. The elation doesn’t end from the moment you step into Victoria Falls, to the moment you say your wistful goodbyes to her. Wild Horizons are proud to be Co-sponsors of the Jameson Vic Falls Carnival.
So once again the brutal heat of November is upon us! As happens every year; we gasp in shock as the heat presses relentlessly down on us day after day from a painfully blue, cloudless sky. To those of us sweltering here, in Victoria Falls, it will probably not come as any surprise to hear that the Zambezi River water levels are at their lowest levels in 7 years. The river was last recorded at this level at this time of the year in 1997 and in 2000. As we gaze fruitlessly into the cloudless sky, it gives us time to ponder how this actually affects us here on the ground in Victoria Falls.
Sticking with tradition let’s start with the bad news first… it means the middle of the day is probably not a good time to be out and about sightseeing, or doing anything particularly strenuous. It means blowing a fair amount of one’s budget on sunscreen, a very large hat and as many bottles of the coldest water that you can buy. It also means a longer walk out of the gorge at the end of your raft trip!
However, let’s look at the good news that comes with these lower than usual water levels. With the river being 5 centimetres lower than the average over the past 7 years on the same day, it means that the rapids on the white water rafting trip are slightly bigger and the adrenaline rush just that much more intense! It also means that the sandbanks on the edge of the Zambezi are more prominent and therefore more likely to be host to crocodiles basking (or is that baking) in the sunshine. Over the past week, the river has been dropping an average of ½ a centimeter a day which is also an indicator that there is less surface water lying around in the bush adjacent to the river. This forces wildlife, often in large herds, to come down to the river to drink therefore affording guests on cruise boats and on game drives excellent game viewing opportunities. Large herds of animals moving through the dry bush on their way to the river and ‘dust devils’ stirred up by the hot wind cause an extra layer of dust in the atmosphere, thereby creating the most spectacular sunsets! Once the intense heat of the day has abated it is a perfect opportunity to slake your thirst with an ice cold drink and watch the African bush settle down for the night.
So while we wait in eager anticipation for the annual rains to reach us and change these almost unprecedented low water levels, let’s make the most of the opportunities afforded to us now and get out there while it lasts! Written by Libby White