Mosi-oa-tunya: The Smoke that Thunders

By Ashley Simango

Adorned as one of the world’s natural seven wonders, it is no secret that a visit to the mighty Victoria Falls is exciting. Nowhere in the world will you see a sunrise as beautiful as one shadowed by tiny droplets from the mighty rapids of the Zambezi river. Whether the falls lie more in Zambia or Zimbabwe is a question that we may never find an answer to. This Zimbabwean writer will focus more on their native side and a bit on the Zambian side.

Of particular interest to any traveler on a budget would definitely be the cheap side of the expensive resort, which is free from prices set for international tourists. Anyone curious enough knows that spending a single night in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe would mean spending an average of $150 for accommodation, $50 for entrance and the Lunar tour, which is an expedition of Victoria Falls during a full moon. But I am here to tell you that you can travel to and from Victoria Falls on a budget of $100 USD!

The $100 journey starts in the sleepless city of Harare, the capital city of a certain Zimbabwe. To set the scene for those not familiar with the teapot-shaped country, there exists a bus terminal affectionately known as ‘Show-ground’. Here are two bus companies, Stallion Cruise and Extra City. These two buses have an overnight trip to our wonder destination, Victoria Falls. The $35 trip is from 4 pm to around 6 am meaning that you can leave on a Friday after work and be back with the whole of Sunday to prepare for the Monday rush!

Any traveler on these buses is likely to find their sustenance in sadza. Sadza is a staple food on the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls. Sadza is a mixture of water and mealie meal that is cooked into a thick porridge. More mealie meal is added into the mixture until it is a dough-like consistency. Then relish of any choice will serve as a side. One meal of sadza can last you for a good day. This meal is readily found in Victoria Falls for only $3. Yes, the plate includes meat, a lot of it. This will bring the total so far to $38 USD. For locals, entry fee into the actual falls is $7 USD for the whole day (and yes, you are not a local if you didn’t eat the plate of sadza). Summatively, we stand on $45 USD for bus, a night of sleeping on that bus, and food. You are already fed and enjoying the aesthetics that the falls l have ironically never been to have to offer.

Devil’s Pool and White Water are some of the terms to be familiar with during the $100 trip. Devil’s Pool is a pool of calm water at the very edge of the beginning of the falls. Once in the pool, rigorous currents push you to the edge. White Water is where the water falls at the edge of the rock at Devil’s Pool. Its great velocity makes it look white. All this adventure is included in the $7 USD for entry. (Reminder: you will still be full from the plate of sadza and the excitement will probably outweigh the hunger for a couple more hours.)

On both sides of the waterfall are two national parks: Victoria Falls and Mosi-oa-Tunya national parks. From the Zimbabwean side, the footpaths in the Victoria Falls National Park provide quite the view of the falls, even for a person who couldn’t afford to take the helicopter ride to see the full view. From these footpaths, you will be able to see the Devil’s Cataract, Main Falls, Rainbow Falls and Horseshoe Falls. Wait, it doesn’t end there. Through the same footpaths, you can journey to the bridge that crosses over to the Zambian side, the Knife Edge bridge. On the Victoria Falls Bridge, you can even get harnessed and take a walk under the bridge and no one would ever suspect that your budget is as tight as they come.

A crossover to the Zambian side of the mighty Mosi-oa-Tunya offers not only fluvial sites but also an abundance of fauna. The Zambezi River walk seems to be the epitome of the fauna in Mosi-oa-Tunya. As rocky as the gorge may be, the walk is quite gentle. You will be sure to see troops of baboons swaying in the trees of the lush forest. If lucky, you will see warthogs, the slim hippopotamuses, and the small elephants and buffaloes. None of these views will add any amount to the $45 currently listed in our tiny little budget.

The tour guides that reside all over Victoria Falls are well versed in the history of the town and of the place. The history of the Victoria Falls Bridge and the town of Livingstone is readily available. Livingstone town offers local history through the local museum and the town itself has stored its ancient architecture which is somehow African in a calm sense. Don’t worry because all the while no one will give you, a traveler on a cheapskate budget, any golly eyes. They will never know your secrets.

At this point it will be around 5 pm and it still will be a Saturday. After a long exciting day like this, you will have loads and loads of pictures to post. So many that if you change costumes during the day, you might even post for ongoing weeks without anyone catching up on what you did. If you feel that even after so many thrills you are hungry, then l guess at this point you already know the order of the day. Sadza. The $3 USD plate of sadza that is life itself to a fellow local.

Sunday, 8 am, you will surely will be back in the noisy city of Harare at the Show-grounds terminal. Another $35 USD would have been used for the bus back to total $83 USD. With $17 USD to spare, you will hopefully live long enough to tell your grandchildren all about your trip to one of the 7 natural world wonders. And of course, do make a mental note to take me with if this piece motivates you to go.



14 June, 2023