Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Zambia - Victoria Falls

I quickly got the impression that Livingstone and surrounding attractions are a sort of African Disneyland.

From the hostel that would arrange for someone to wipe your behind should you feel the inclination (well... maybe that is a little harsh, but you certainly would not have to do anything of your own volition) - everything was very very easy.

BUT, over four days Livingstone gave us everything we could have asked for.

Some of the best white water rapids on earth. Hurtling down the Zambezi through 25 rapids including at least 4 grade “5's”all with bone crunching names – an awesome day hurtling from Zim into Zam and back again in the frothing green torrade.

Jumping off a bridge over the ravine cut by the rolling flows of the river only to be whipped up after 117m or so by a slightly frayed bungee cord. A stunning view only added to by inversion and the sudden rush of blood that comes to the head when one jumps and....bounces.
Zam, Zim, the bridge and the jump....
An evening cruise on the wide Zambezi above the falls. Getting way way excited by a giraffe, crocs and ribbeting hippos. The sun a deepening ball of red falling into the Zambezi with a blaze as flocks of birds fly across the panorama. A beer in hand and cohiba in the lips. We felt we had landed and done well!
My first African wildlife

I have to admit a slight sense of “if only” with regards to the falls themselves. A massive escarpment littered with separate waterfalls. Some small ones, 3 or 4 large ones and then a huge one falling in the distance (the better viewing from Zim we avoided for obvious reasons) and pounding into a fine mist the emanates upwards. Stunning. But something like a tenth of the falls in full flow. I shall have to return.

Taking advantage of the low water we were able (with a bit of help from a local guy) to scramble over the top of the falls and peer over the edge into rainbows in the mist.

The highlight for me was undoubtedly taking a microlight over the falls. Climbing off a grass airstrip you are exposed to the air as you reach 1500ft, saw over the Zambezi and then circle the falls, peering into churn and mist. Viewing over the zig-zag landscape cut by the mighty river. We then saw back over the river. Towards the sunset and over a large bull elephant crossing the river and a scrum of hippos. Simply awesome!

This was supplemented by a few drinks in town with some locals and a bit of orientation. The subject of Zimbabwe inevitably crept up being a stone's throw away. The Zim side (Victoria) used to be the place to see the falls. From all accounts it is pretty quiet nowadays. On the border crossings there are plenty of Zimbabweans selling Zim dollars and what not – the currency has got so ridiculously inflated that the value is rising, a tourist is happy top pay a US dollar for however many billion Zim dollars out of pure novelty.

We had found friendly people and an easy life in Livingstone. We were ready to move on.....
Sunset over the Zambezi
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