Monday, August 30, 2010

Victoria Falls

Livingston, Zambia 28 August 2010

Since we got in so late last night we weren't able to check out the resort so immediately after eating at the super breakfast buffet we set off exploring. The Zambezi Sun is set up like a family resort with African drummers and dancers in reception, lots of sculptures of animals (giraffes, crocodiles, hippos) and many of the real animals roaming the area. The large semicircular pool is the center of the resort and surrounded by apartment style buildings. Our room looked out over the Zambezi river above Victoria Falls and occasionally baboons or other small monkeys would climb up and jump from balcony to balcony. There were signs everywhere to remind you to be careful with the wildlife- close your windows so the baboons don't get in your car, or watch your kids so the crocodiles don't eat them.

The resort also has an adventure center so visitors can book a walking or segway safari, go white water rafting below the falls, fly fishing, or bungee jumping from the Victoria Falls bridge. Most of the trips cost about $120 per person and my friend tried to schedule a fishing trip but the adventure center couldn't find a guide for the same day. I ended up walking out onto the victoria falls bridge to watch the bungee jumpers and continued on to Zimbabwe.

After clearing immigration I walked another two kilometers to the small resort town of Victoria Falls but along the road at regular intervals I would run into a street vendor. Each street vendor had a specific territory about 200 meters long and as i walked into each area the guy would walk up to me and try to sell me 100,000,000,000 (100 trillion) dollar notes. As I reached the end of his territory he would stop and another guy would greet me and begin again to try to sell me the same hyper-inflated currency notes. I couldn't tell if they were real or not as they had not seals or special markings like those of the neighboring currencies so i didn't buy any, despite the efforts of dozens of the vendors.

When I finally made it to my destination, a huge hotel at the edge of town, i registered for the Victoria Falls Half Marathon for the next morning. They were also running the full marathon and each event only cost $35 USD. The people running the event and most of the patrons were white, but there were several thin and fast looking africans trying to register as well. The races only cost $10 for the locals.

After i walked back across the frontier to Zambia i found my friend still trying to find a fishing guide and we ate some lunch at the poolside restraunt. Then we went on a short hike to Victoria Falls, an amazing waterfall where the wide Zambezi river plunges over 300 feet into a narrow canyon creating a huge column of mist that can be seen from miles away in the early morning light (its harder to see at midday). I was much more impressed by Victoria Falls than Niagra Falls which i visited three months ago. There were some local Africans fishing in waist-deep water just yards from the edge and others that would guide you across the river just a hundred yards from the edge to Livingston Island- both seemed too risky for me. There would be no way to survive a trip over the falls and apparently dozens of people go over every year.
My favorite view of the falls was from the knife's edge trail and bridge just below the falls to a huge ridge that is perpetually slick from the mist. There was a chain and a sparse railing to help you negotiate the slick surface, but there were plenty of areas where if you slipped there was nothing to stop you from enjoying a quick free fall to the rocks below.

The Knife's Edge is also home to many baboon families who live out of the garbage cans. I quickly discovered that they don't like a camera flash when i took a picture of a baby clinging upside down to her mother's belly and the daddy came after me and chased me up the trail.

After exploring we hung out at the pool and had a couple drinks before heading to dinner at a restraunt and watched the Manchester United game on a enormous nine square meter screen. The best meal i had at the resort was the grilled crocodile- it didn't taste like chicken, but is hard to describe.

1 comment:

  1. Great entry, the pictures will be wonderful to see. You better watch out for the Baboons.... seems they are out to get you. Good judgment on the slippery falls trail, too dangerous. Stay safe, we love reading about your adventures. Love, Mom