Venturing to Victoria Falls

March 28-29, 2012

Wake up early so we can figure out which bus we need to take to Livingstone. Grab breakfast at the hotel and walk away from the hotel trying to find a cab. Now, this would be a time where wifey #1 gets frustrated with husband. Because before we left the hotel, I asked him to get the hotel to call us a cab. But, he decided walking would be easier. Well, we walked down the street about a block/block and a half to have some random guy pull over and offer to guy us a ride in his “taxi.” Yep. Sure. We will take it. Then, we drive back the way we walked, turn a few corners and land in bus station chaos.

Our “taxi” driver delivers us to the best bus leaving for Livingstone. I appreciate him doing that for us! It was leaving at 0900. We had about an hour to kill. We were told the bus would take 6 hours from Lusaka to Livingstone. Liam went to the counter to obtain our tickets. He somehow managed to get bus tickets without paying because he told them we wouldn’t pay if the bus took longer than 6 hours. And they agreed to let us pay when we got there.

Zambian buses are nice.

Decided to run to the restroom before we jumped on the bus. The bathroom was for a fee, so Emily and I had to go back and find Liam and get money. (He was the only one with any kwacha at this point). You know, I don’t mind paying to use a bathroom if it’s clean, working, and has soap and toilet paper. Keep in mind, working in my book includes a bucket with water that you dump down the toilet to flush it. That is a working toilet. If the flusher works, it’s like Christmas.

Jump on the bus. We sat three across. Poor Emily. She was squished into the window seat. Liam was half-a-cheek on and half-a-cheek off of his seat. I sat in the middle trying not to move because I didn’t want to take any of their seat space.  It was a cozy fit. The window was wide open because even though the bus had aircon, it wasn’t turned on. The fancier bus that we missed earlier this morning had the aircon. We are going to be a stinky threesome when we arrive in Livingstone. There was a little baby girl across the aisle who kept playing with us. She came and stood on my lap for a little while checking us out and watching everyone else. She was super cute.

Once we were on the road, the three of us konked out for about an hour to an hour and a half. There is something about public transportation that puts me to sleep. I think it’s the rocking. Regardless, it was a great little nap! Wake up feeling famished. We stop at a rest stop. (GASP. A rest stop. In Africa. Dude. Zambia is civilized). There is another fee bathroom that was immaculate. There was a “fast food” restaurant that was pretty legit and a store to buy drinks and other snack food items. Pretty impressive and a first since we moved to the continent.

Emily and I jump back on the bus and we eat our lunch. I ordered a flaky pastry with a warm chicken and veggie curry filling and three orders of French fries (chipsies). Besides being a little too salty, it was delicious.

The bus was stopping a lot more than we thought it was going to. Apparently, we are on the local bus that stops every three feet. At one of the stops, Emily looked outside and saw a guy selling popcorn. She bought a bag and it looked so good, I decided I wanted one too! I love the fact that I can stick my head out the window of the bus and buy snacks, music, DVDs, a phone charger, a broom, cold drink, and pretty much anything else I need. It’s fantastic!

Several hours later, we pull into Livingstone, Zambia. It’s about 3pm. Way beyond the 6 hours they told us it would take. So, our tickets were free. Kind of felt bad about not paying, but they agreed to the terms. Now, we need to find the bank that we passed a bit ago. Gather our bags and walk past all of the cabs to the strip mall. All of the backs are closed so we cannot exchange money. Liam pulls some money out of our account and away we go to Jolly boys.

Since we aren’t 100% sure where it was, we have a cab take us. We were literally around the corner but with all of our bags, it made it so much easier to take a cab. Get to Jolly Boys Backpackers and check-in. Since we were 24+ hours late for our first night, we lost our reservation but they had not sold our room yet. Thankfully. We added another day because we were still debating whether we were going to stay a few days longer since the train took forever to get here.

Walk into the 4 bunk dorm we rented. It was pretty nice. 2 sets of twin bunk beds. With mosquito netting, or own bathroom, and aircon. Total score.  Put our stuff down and try to figure out what we are going to do for the day. Took showers to get the bus funk off of us. Played around online to check school stuff, Facebook, emails. You know. The usual.

Figure out where we want to go eat dinner. Decide on Hippos. Well, we got to Hippos and it’s an Irish bar. I think they are in the process of changing the name. There were a few hippos out of wrought iron as the window screen. Probably should have taken a picture of it, but I was too hungry to think straight!

Enjoy a nice leisurely dinner with Liam and Emily. She took a minute to call her parents and let them know she was safe and we weren’t scary! Dinner was really tasty and it was nice to relax after days of rocking back and forth on public transportation.

Headed back to Jolly Boys and curled up into our respective bunks. What a wonderful night’s sleep!!!

Woke up on the morning of March 29th and decided today was the day we were going to head to Victoria Falls. We enjoy a nice breakfast at the Jolly Boys bar. There we also meet Jason and another guy Mitch. Mitch is heading back to Namibia today. Jason is American who is traveling the world with his wife, Erin. They have been in Southern Africa for a month or so and are camping out here and volunteering at a local school. He’s such a nice guy! I can’t wait to meet Erin later!  But, we need to head to the falls.

Hail a cab and off to the falls we go. We are going to view them from the Zambian side because we don’t want to worry about crossing into Zimbabwe because the customs agent sold Emily a single entry Visa for Zambia. Therefore, she would have to spend $50 every time she crossed the border to get back in. Not worth it to see the rest of the waterfalls.

We pull up into the parking lot. Pay our fees and begin walking towards the falls. There are several trails and a fair amount of people. We were warned that we were going to get wet so we came prepared. Sort of. All of my rain gear is back in the States in storage because I was pregnant and was not going to stretch out my outdoor gear. So, I’m going to get wet. Liam had his rain jacket and he had to wear the backpack with the good camera. Emily had her rain jacket and put everything on the inside. We stop at one viewpoint and take a few pictures in front of the falls. It’s pretty impressive. This is high water season so they were overflowing. The spray created a giant mist that would whirl up and spray you. And we were still pretty far away.

Everyone walking up from the falls is in their bathing suits and soaking wet. Why didn’t we think of that. Emily and I were shaking our heads because it never occurred to us to just throw on our suits and walk through the water.

Although we look superimposed, we are really standing at the top of the falls.

Rolling rapids

Continue down the trail and we come to the Zambezi River at the top of the falls. The river is moving pretty quickly and the clouds of mist loom omnipotently over the top of the falls. They are also quite loud. I’m not going to lie, it’s really impressive. Just the sheer magnitude of the falls is pretty mind-blowing. But, then again. I’m easily entertained by geology. I love rocks, water, and the way the Earth works. I wonder what is on the back side of the falls. I really want to come back when it’s low water season and look at the rock structures behind the falls. I have to see the small trickle of water that occurs during dry season. Another thing to put on my bucket list. At this rate I’m never going to die.

Back track a little on the trail and start walking down into the falls. Followed the curvy pathway to a footbridge. Emily and Liam were ahead of me and down at the edge of the falls getting soaked. I paused a moment to take their picture!

Wandering in the mist of Vic Falls

Here goes. Francis in the Mist. What a sensational feeling. The mist surged when the water poured over the edge of the falls. It was this powerful gust from below. It was enjoyable. I don’t know if that even explains it. There is a moment when you first feel the drops hit your skin and you catch your breath. Maybe it is from the power of the falls. Maybe it is from the coolness of the water. Or, maybe it is because you are standing so close to one of the Natural Wonders of the World. Regardless, I liked it. A LOT.

We crossed the footbridge and found ourselves completely soaked. For the record, what was I thinking wearing light khaki capris with purple undies. Clearly, not thinking about the wet bottom contest I was about to enter.

The footbridge over the falls.

Continued on the trail. I still can’t believe this is our life.  We get to spend as much time as we can stuck on this fantastic continent. I’m so excited to see what the next 10-15-20 years hold for us. It’s going to be such a ride.

Continue walking down the trail.  A few people follow us down the trail and ask us if we are going to bungee. Now, I’ll admit it. My sanity is questionable on most good days. But, I would still NEVER consider jumping off a perfectly good bridge into the gorge below the falls. Not my cup of tea. Especially after we have all watched the woman plunge into the river, because oops the line broke (check on youtube it’s everywhere). Yep. Not so much. Even though, two guys following us tried for a brief second to convince Emily and I it was safe. Still NOT happening.  Oh yes. This would also be one of the few times in my marriage that I have told Liam he was not allowed to do something. Because, the idea of him plunging into croc filled waters did not sit well. Luckily, he’s a good listener and decided he wasn’t that interested!

Self portrait at the top of the Falls.

Came to the end of the trail on the Zambia side of the falls, turned around, and began walking back. About a 1/3rd of the way back, the skies decided to pour more liquid on us, because obviously, we weren’t already wet enough. That’s when it started to become a little chilly. It was grey, cold, and rainy. Ick.

Make it back to the main gate and exit. Walk around the curio shops right outside the falls. It was a place to get out of the rain and see what type of wares were available in Zambia. We knew we needed a mask. But, it’s always fun to see what other Africrap stuff you can find. And Lord knows Liam and I love our Africrap. A little over half-way through, Liam found a long mask he really liked. It was about 3 feet long with a fish and a bird at the top. It’s mostly black (thanks to Kiwi shoe polish) with a little red and green. It was beautiful. We also found a wonderful hand carved chess set. Asked the price and it was 1.5 million kwacha (almost $300). Um. I don’t think so. I told him I would need to think about it! It’s probably worth the price he asked me to pay, but I live one country away and know these things don’t cost that.  Price out some Zimbabwean money. We need a bill and a coin for the Africa map. It’s not that expensive but since we want to look at the other shops in town, we will wait for the best deal. Oh how cheap we have become!

Headed back to Jolly boys to shower and clean up after becoming SOAKED. Relaxed for a while around the camp and decided what we wanted to do for dinner. Emily and I also decided we were going to go on a safari tomorrow at Choebe National Park in Botswana. Liam was going to have an adventure day and get some work done. My husband kicks arse. He lets me wander all over the globe so I can take pictures of all of the animals I love. Not only that, but he’s pretty cute too. That’s why I’ll let him have a second wife for this trip!  Hehehe.

Decided on the Mexican restaurant for dinner. There is a serious lack of decent Mexican food in Africa. It’s a reality that I have not quite accepted. But, at some point I’m going to have to. We had a nice dinner and headed back to Jolly Boys because it’s going to be such an early morning.

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Categories: Africa, Trip 5 | Leave a comment

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