A Travellerspoint blog

Where angels fly

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.

Posted by TTraveller 06:17 Archived in Zambia Comments (0)

O what a night!

18th October 2010

One of the overlanding groups who cater for a younger clientele put on a disco. Unfortunately, their musical repertoir was rather limited. I heard „Oh, baby, do you wanna be my girl?“ at least twi e.

As soon as I remarked that I remembered that song from my youth, it hit me that once upon a time my parents and aunt would have said exactly the same thing to me when I was bobbing up and down excitedly to the remake of an old song.

Looks like I am officially part of the older generation, regardless of how hard I may try to preserve a childlike spirit...

The music stopped at around 10, only to be replaced by the sound of someone vomittingf near our tent.

For the first time I put my earplugs in. I had so far avoided those, so that I would be warned of an impending moscito attack...

I could not sleep and finsihed the German novel by the light of a windup torch. The light was almost too bright for the first page or two, only to dim very quickly afterwards. So time for another windup. And so it went on for an hour or two. Read a few pages – windup torch for 1-2 minutes – read a few pages – wind up torch... Reading had suddenly become a longwinded business.

I reached the end of the novel (totally crazy story and too crazy to happen on our trip!), but not the end of my insomnia.

A walk to the loo always breaks the outine of staring into space. So I search for the windup torch, briefly switch the light on to find the zip to unzip the tent flap, switch the light off, slip throigh the opening, quickly zip up behind me and walk up to the ablution blcok on the lookout for obstacles (I don't want to fall into the swimming pool!) and listening out for the sprinklers. Where have they been placed tonight?

There are plenty of bugs that have been attracted by the light in the bathroom. Like in a video game, it's important to simply focus on enemy number 1 – like that big mosquito over there by the toilet door.

Oh, no, it has spotted my green toiletry bag. I shold have remmebered that greeen is not only easy to find for me in the semi-dark of a tent, but is also a prime target for my enemy...

Ok, it's buzzing off again. Let's make a quick dash for the exit...

I confess that my cowardice probably cost a harmless insect its life. I had been watching it during my last 2 lavatory visits, lying on its back and desperately trying to turn back on its feet. I had just been contemplating how I could rescue it when the mosquito drew my attention. Any thought of bug saving went out of the window...

The tent is stuffy when I finally return, and I hunt in vain for the citronella room freshner I have created out of citronella oil and water. (I should be used by now to the fact that I shall never find what I am looking for when I am looking for it!)

What I do find is the pure citronella oil, which I sprinkle generously. Too generously. The smell bites in my nose and makes me cough. Now I am even wider awake.

Counting sheep has never worked for me, so I try to figure out instead how you are supposed to fit 4 people into our tent. I can see that there is room for 3, but only without the luggage that currently hems us in on every side. So where would we stick the 4th person? Maybe we could create a bunk bed, as the ceiling is pretty high....

As soon as my silly (I mean creative) thoughts help me drift off to sleep, it's already time to get up for another eary morning activity.

Posted by TTraveller 06:17 Archived in Zambia Comments (0)

Sunset cruise on the Zambezi river

18th October 2010

I had not been keen at first. I had been told it was known as the „booze cruise“ as free snacks and drinks were included.

However, I changed my mind when our cab driver mentioned that we would see hippos and crocs from the boat.

Our tour guide managed to get us places on a small boat, and I spent most of the time on the upper deck, animal hunting with my camera.

We saw quite a few hippos. Their heads looked a bit like dinosaurs, so maybe the monster of Loch Ness is nothing more than a hippo that got lost? After all, hippos can easily disappear from sight, as they can stay under water for 6-7 mins.

What I found hardest to spot were the crocs. We only saw small ones, and they blended in perfectly with their environment. They looked like branches and stayed so still that they might as well have been dead.

We also got a glimpse of our first elephants and saw baboons, impalas and lots of different birds whose names I have already forgotten. The only one I remember is the fish eagle, and I think I may recognize it again with its distinctive white head and breast.

On the boat I also bumped into a pretty rare species: Two people from my hometown. They were definitely the „real thing“, as they were proudly telling me how the local football team was doing

Posted by TTraveller 06:17 Archived in Zambia Comments (0)

Victoria Falls

18th October 2010

I am not well in the morning, but dismiss AH's suggestion to stay under the umbrella by the pool. I mean, how can I travel all the way to the Victoria Falls and then miss my chance to see them?

We are warned that there will not be much water as we are in low season. In the high season, there is so much water that the rising steam makes it extremely difficult to take a good photograph, whereas in the low season the rock formation below the waterfall is clearly visible.

This is apparently the 7th (or 8th?) fall that the Zambezi has carved out. The falls are working their way back through the canyon and are currently 1.7 km wide.

Most of the falls are on the Zimbabwean side where the waterflow is also heavier, but I find the falls on the Zambian side already pretty impressive.

It does not look like one waterfall, but like a collection of hundreds of miniature falls of varying strength. Some run down independently all the way to the bottom. Others merge halfway and create a fall of double impact.

In the distance I can see steam rising on the Zimbabwean side. It does look like smoke. The indigenous people were far more imaginative and descriptive when they named the falls „The smoke that thunders.“

AH is not content to walk along the designated main path – not much adventure there, after all. No, he wants to climb to the bottom of the fall to the boiling point.

„Honey, we only have 15 mins left“, I reminded him – to no avail: „That's PLENTY of time. I'll be very quick.“ And off he went.

When our tour leader asks me whether AH is time conscious, I tell him that I don't know. AH got well accustomed to time keeping back in the UK, but now he is back on his home continent, will he revert back to African time?

I hope not. When we first met, his lack of time-keeping drove me mad. Sometimes he was 3 hours late for a date.

In this case, we only had to wait for 5 minutes before AH appeared, his T-shirt soaked in sweat. He had tried his best, but realised he would not make it all the way down and back.

While we were waiting, I did my first round of „window shopping“ at the local market. I kept saying: „I haven't brought money. I have come here for the photographs“, but this didn't deter the vendors: „I know you have no money, but let me just show you what I/my grandfather has made in the local village.“

Many items were only 1 Dollar, but I wasn't in shopping mood. It was getting hot, and I was ready for a long rest.

Posted by TTraveller 06:17 Archived in Zambia Comments (0)

Malawi tales

23rd October 2010

Today we have entered Malawi, and I have been looking forward to update my travel blog.

I faithfully wrote about all of our adventures on my Netbook, downloaded the entries onto an USB stick - and am no sitting in front of an old computer that still works with CDs... (There is a more modern computer here, but that is not connected to the internet...)

So sadly you will have to wait a bit longer to hear about the rest of our Zambian experiences (like the leopard drama we witnessed yesterday).

I am sure we will have plenty of adventures in Malawi too.

When we arrived at the campsite we found out that they have been without mains water for the last 3 days. I don't think I will have to be on the lookout from water sprinklers here...

Posted by TTraveller 08:50 Archived in Malawi Comments (0)

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