19th October 2010
We've booked a morning visit to Livingstone Island, the place from which Livingstone saw the falls for the very first time. He considered them so beautiful that he thought the angels would fly there.
To get to the island, we had to take a cab to the Royal Livingstone, a platinum standard hotel with its own helicopter pad, collection of giraffes and zebras (instead of the cheeky vervets that go about their monkey business at the Waterfront) and classical music in bathrooms clad in white and black marble (the Waterfront bathrooms offer ant parades instead).
Rooms cost US§ 600 per night – more than we had to pay into the kittie for our 3 week overlanding trip...
We walk across the well-manicured lawn to the Royal Deck. I feel a bit like a trespasser in my casual gear. Guests here do casual too, but only chic designer casual. They would never be seen in a wrinkled or stained shirt.
To our left we see steam rising, with a rainbow arching overhead, indicating that we are very close to the falls.
A motorboat takes us to the island. It's a short, but bumpy ride, and we have to wear life jackets, an indicator that the Zambezi shouldn't be messed with.
There is no time for a leisurely stroll if we want to go swimming in the most adventurous infinity pool in the world which ends just before the edge of the falls.
I've seen people relaxing in the quiet waters above the falls, so decide to give it a go.
I get changed in the „loo with a view“ (a toilet cubicle where the front wall is missing, so there is never any need for air freshener).
The path down to the water's edge is rocky. I am glad I bought my swim shoes, as I gingerly climb from rock to rock.
We are given instructions of how to cross the Zambezi. We first have to walk to our right and then swim to a rope.
The water has just the right temperature, refreshing, without being cold.
I don't get to enjoy it for very long, as I notice that I've been caught by a current and am not strong enough to reach my destination. Before I can panic, our guide is by my side and offers me a lift.
I cling to his shoulders as he swims the last few metres.
Part of me wants to turn back when I see the next challenge ahead. The ads have lied. The pool is anything but calm and there are currents that can sweep you to your death. To get to the edge, you either have to climb down yet more rocks before swimming across or jump out as far as possible.
Being submerged by the river is AH's preferred option. A big leap and splash, and he is almost at the edge of the pool.
I prefer to play it safe and climb down the rocks before accepting another lift.
There is a rock bench to sit on and the ledge is pretty wide, but I still don't want to look behind. I am happy to admire the view later on photographs.
Why do I always forget that I do not like heights? I keep having the sensation of falling over the edge and will the photographer to hurry up with producing evidence of my folly, I mean bravery.
„Another water taxi?“ I am more than happy to swim piggyback again.
This would be my tip for the anxious: By all means visit the pool if you are in Livingstone during the low season (during the high season the pool disappears), but ask for a „water taxi“ both ways.
The guides are used to offer lifts. Sometimes they have to swim back and forth 5 or 6 times per group...
We eat breakfast under a gazebo. We get spoiled with homemade muffins and scones, and a scone, bacon, poached egg „tower“.
However, all too soon we are asked to move on, as the table has to be set for the next group of explorers.
I wish they had given us more time to look around, but we were lucky to be able to book a place. The trip is often booked days in advance, as visitor numbers are limited to about 7 per boat trip. I would guess that no more than 30 people are visiting the island on any given day.