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Lots of White Water

Wow, Victoria Falls, in a national park on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, is a spectacular vision of beauty and power.  The first time you see it, it takes your breath away.  While it’s not quite the tallest or widest waterfall, it has the largest sheet of falling water in the world!  The falls, which are fed by the Zambezi River, are more than a mile wide and 354 feet tall.

 

Our hotel, in the town of Livingstone, on the Zambian side, bordered the falls so we were able to explore at our leisure. To do so, though, we had to go thru immigration because the paths were in Zimbabwe!  Several hiking paths along the rim provided breathtaking and damp views.  We’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Our hotel, also located in the park, had plenty of animal life . . . and not just the bird variety.  There were 2 different groups of zebras, 5 giraffes, and too many vervet monkeys and baboons to count wandering the grounds. The zebras that tended to hang out near our room in the morning put a smile on my face every time I saw them.  Mark had to give way to giraffes when he ran in the morning.  Definitely unique!

Upon arrival at the hotel, we were greeted by a band of native Zambians who welcomed us singing and dancing in one of the 72 official languages of Zambia.  Later in the evening, we went to a traditional dinner with cultural experiences along the way.  In a traditional village, you might live in a round mud hut with a thatched roof.  It seems that snakes like corners.  In a round building, the snake would go around the edge looking for a corner and would go out after circling.  Who knew!  While eating, which included worm salad, there  was a really traditional singing and dancing demonstration – very colorful and energetic.  Mark even got up on stage to join the dance.  All in all, an enjoyable evening.

There are a few experiences at the falls highlighting the views.  During our sunset safari on the river, we found hippos, elephants, a water monitor lizard and loads of birds.  We also joined a guided group that walked/swam right to the edge of the falls ‘the Devil’s Pool’ . . . a little scary but thrilling! 

 

The most spectacular though was white water rafting (Mark only) in the Zambezi rapids, class 3 to class 6, below the river.  Rafting started in the gorge just below the falls and at the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe - 21 rapids with white water over 3 meters crashing into the boat.  Lots of water and lots for exhilarating fun!  The gorge itself is beautiful with high walls of black volcanic basalt. 

 

A steep climb followed after the rafting to get back to the top.  On our way back to the hotel, we visited the guide’s village filled with goats, chickens, lots of kids, and mostly mud round huts – a humbling experience.

We took a taxi over to the Zimbabwe side through a few immigration checkpoints to the town of Victoria Falls.  The contrast is stark.  Several street people offered 5 Billion Z notes as a memento trying to get a few dollars.  The country doesn’t have its own currency but uses US dollars instead.  Zimbabwe is markedly poorer than Zambia with little industry and a lot of corruption. (Zambia has rich copper & coal mines in the North and tourism).  At a local craft market, we saw dozens of vendors with beautiful hand carved elephants, rhinos, chess sets and malachite jewelry. We felt compelled to buy something so Betsey got a few new bracelets.  Not needed for sure but we supported the local craftsmen and didn’t add weight to our luggage. 

 

Lunch was at the historic Victoria Falls Hotel, a splurge but still cheap by SD standards.  The hotel with all of its trappings and a view of the falls was a throwback to a bygone colonial era.  

After 4 interesting days, we took a taxi from Livingstone Zambia along the border of 4 countries – Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, & Botswana – to get to our next stop – the Chobe River in Botswana. 

 

Enjoy the pictures!