Saturday, September 10, 2016

A Dry Tour of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Today, we were on our way back to Victoria Falls. We would be doing a walking tour of the Falls before packing our bags to head home tomorrow.

This was the scene at the Zimbabwe border. Manuel said trucks can sometimes wait up to a week to clear immigration. Crazy!

Having experienced a long delay when we arrived and went through immigration, Manuel took things into his hands and took all of our passports and forms and went inside. He was back in no time and we were ready to go. That man is amazing! He and Sue were looking pretty happy with their accomplishment...

We had to make one more stop for elephants. So many babies...

The last elephant we saw...

Here we are arriving at the Falls...


Manuel gave us an explanation of how the Falls were formed...

"During the Jurassic Period (150-200 million years ago), volcanic activity resulted in thick basalt deposit covering large parts of Southern Africa. As the lava cooled and solidified, cracks appeared in the hard crust, which were filled with clay and lime. Erosion and the course of the mighty Zambezi River cut through these softer materials, forming the first of a series of waterfalls.

Over at least 2000 years, the Falls have receded 8 km upstream, as the Zambezi River carved its way through seven gorges. This geological history can be seen in the dark basalt in the series of rocky gorges below the Falls. It is believed that the Devil's Cataract, which is presently the lowest point of Victoria Falls, will eventually become the next gorge as the river continues to cut its way back upstream.

Essentially, the river falls into a gorge directly in front of the Falls, and then flows through a narrow cutting. You can view the Falls straight on from across the gorge."


We were going to walk from No. 1 (Devil's Cataract) to No. 16 (The Bridge)...that's a good walk on a hot day.

David Livingstone was the first person from the Western world to lay eyes on the Falls in 1855. He was taken to an island in the Zambezi River to view the Falls by a Chief of one of the local tribes, and even though the water was low at the time, he supposedly felt a tremor of fear as he approached the wall of spray.

He described what he saw..."No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes; but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight."

He spent over 25 years in Africa and was instrumental in shutting down the slave trade in Eastern Africa. He died in northern Zambia in 1873. His heart was buried there and the rest of his remains were shipped back to Britain and laid to rest in Westminster Abbey. Symbolically, his heart remained in Africa.

A rainbow at the base of the rocks...

Devil's Cataract on the left...

Jim and Kim at Victoria Falls...it was the dry season, so we were going to have a very different experience from the Falls at their peak.

The gang (minus 2)...Sara and Ross had gone on ahead. The Kiwis had already visited the Falls independently before our safari started, so this was Take 2 for them.

And once again, I somehow clicked the volume button on my phone, which can take a photo. Usually it ends up being a photo of the ground, but having just taken a selfie, I caught a photo of moi.

We started our walk through the forest facing the Falls. I believe the walk was 1-1/2 kilometres.

The mist was minimal compared to what it could be. Barb and Ed had toured the Falls several years ago and got completely wet. We were just getting enough of a spray to cool you off. You can see the people (the tiny dots) on the right as they worked their way along the trail.

The African name for the Falls is Mosikalamosikala, meaning "the smoke that thunders."

Looking back at the Devil's Cataract...the height of Victoria Falls varies from 80-108 metres.

A panoramic view of Victoria Falls in the dry season...

You can see how far the trail was from the Falls at this point. At other times, you were very close to the edge. The ferns and moss love the constant mist.


Nature has taken its course...

One of the many lookout points...I was keeping my camera mostly covered and it was the dry season. Can't imagine when it's wet...

Lookout point No. 10 of 16...

See the guy fishing on the other side...that is on the Zambian side at Livingstone. If you google photos of Victoria Falls, you'll see pictures of people on rocks right at the edge of the Falls. There is a pool there with a rock lip that keeps you from going over. Might be OK, but you wouldn't catch me doing it.

Crazy!

The lookout towards Livingstone Island, where David Livingstone first viewed the Falls.

No. 13 coming up...it was very hot. A little spray might have been nice here.

You can see how dry it is. Normally this would be a wall of water. Victoria Falls is more than 1700 metres wide and is approximately twice as wide and deep as Niagara Falls.

This is how close you can get to the edge. See any fences? Nope. In the wet season, these rocks are very slippery and you are given that warning. After that, you're on your own. Robert and Pat getting a closer look...see where I'm standing? Yup, close enough for me.

Manuel contemplating...


The Railway Bridge links Zambia and Zimbabwe. You can also bungee jump from the bridge.

The walk back was a little quicker with no stops. By the time we got to the cafe where some of the group was waiting, we were hot and sweaty. Leaving the Falls, we noticed these wonderful carvings in the fence posts.


Every opportunity for buying souvenirs at the Falls...

On the way to our lodge (a return visit to the A'Zambezi), Manuel took us through Elephant's Way, a mecca for souvenirs. Here you can barter and Manuel told us if they name a price, offer slightly less than half and work up from there. They will take anything in exchange for goods...your shoes, your shirt, your phone, batteries. These sculptures were just beautiful...we really couldn't carry one of these home!

We had time for a quick lunch at the lodge, before being whisked off to take a helicopter tour of the Falls. We were watching a group come in...this was a well-oiled operation. The minute the helicopter landed, the next group was stuffed in and it was go, go, go...every 15 minutes.

We were looking around when this man aggressively told us to go look at this map. OK, buddy...so pushy. Later it became evident why he was so pushy. They are video taping you in the hopes of selling you the recording of your experience later. We were looking pretty grumpy in the video having been forced over to the map. Barb said after later viewing the video "I'd pay them to get rid of the video." That was pretty funny...and true!

We were off...


The Falls from the air, with Devil's Cataract on the bottom left...

And the Railway Bridge...no wonder we were hot and sweaty. That's a long walk.

In the video, you can see the previous site of the Falls, created as the river has worked its way upstream from fault line to fault line.


You got such a great perspective from the air...

A swanky place...

Kids playing football...

The pilot circled back around so people on both sides of the helicopter got great views...a long straight stretch of road with one tiny vehicle.

This looked like a prison, but it probably wasn't.

And then our whirlwind tour was over...

They practically pulled you out of the helicopter. Clearly, Jim was taking a few seconds too long as the other people were waiting to pile in. The experience in the air was wonderful. The experience of being pushed around was not. Once you were back inside they got you to sit down and showed you the video they had taken. There were actually some not-so-bad shots of us, but they wanted $50 US for a flash drive. Robbery! There were no takers in our group.

Back at the hotel, we had a chance to sit, enjoy a drink and reflect on everything. What an amazing experience we've had on this whole trip. These singers and dancers were adding to the ambiance. They appeared to be practising for something. Weddings are often held on the grounds of the hotel.

Our last dinner as a group with some Amarula (which my sister and I might have had an experience with at home) at the table. I would have sworn I didn't have a drink of it...

Until this photo showed otherwise...I think this keychain came from Sue. Another memento from our Kiwi friends...

Loved this group...this guy smiling as he passed by shows they don't miss a thing!


The next morning after breakfast, it was time for one more group photo before we hit the road.

Barb and Ed were only leaving the next day and waved goodbye as we left. Another wonderful adventure, Sister Wife and Ed!

Look how the lady with a basket on her head blends into the surroundings...good camouflage from the animals.

At the airport...we were on the same flight to Johannesburg as our Kiwi friends and then they were going to Cape Town for a few days, while we flew to New York.

Manuel came in with us and wouldn't leave until we had our boarding passes in hand. He somehow managed to wiggle his way to the front of the line and get us all through as one group. Again, that man is amazing!

Having our last coffee with the Kiwis...Lambie is coming home to New Brunswick with us.

Flying into Johannesburg...when we got off the plane, the Kiwis were waiting inside the terminal for us, whistling the  Colonel Bogey March on their sheepdog whistles. We heard that many times over the course of the safari. I wish I had taken a video of them in the airport. Great memories...thank you so much for the wonderful companionship.

The 15 hour flight to New York went amazingly fast. Funny what having glasses will do to make the time pass faster. We arrived in New York at 6:30 a.m.

We didn't sleep too badly on the plane, so we decided to start driving home. We passed this clown van, which seemed cute at the time. I feel bad for all the legitimate clowns trying to make a living with all the creepy clown stuff currently going on.

Lambie was on board and looking quite perky...

We stayed in Westbrook, Maine that night and we were up early the next day to get home. My relationship with Mount Katahdin continues. In the winter, when it is covered in snow, the lookout is closed. In summer, when it's open, it isn't nearly as breathtaking. Still a pretty view though...

Welcome to Canada! Immigration was easy and we were back in New Brunswick.

Welcome to New Brunswick, Lambie. Notice the moose sign...no elephant or hyena signs here.

And we are home. It was a magical trip...everything we hoped for and more. We'd love to go back to Africa and highly recommend a safari to anyone considering it.

Here endeth this blog...



1 comment:

  1. Terri Trottier L'HeureuxOctober 22, 2016 at 12:15 AM

    *Sigh* What a wonderful trip it was. Thank you so much for sharing Kim and Jim.

    ReplyDelete