Posts tagged Zimbabwe


Feb 28, 2011
@ 10:54 pm
Permalink
2 notes

Living on the Edge

Hello and greetings from Livingstone, Zambia where, sadly, it’s time for me to say goodbye to Maretha and Raymond as well as several of the fantastic people I have traveled with throughout South Africa, Botswana, and now Zambia. It’s amazing how quickly time flies by, but it’s a small world and genuine friendships were made so I am hopeful that our paths will cross again.

In honor of our last night we went out for a fancy dinner, and by fancy I mean we were in an actual restaurant as opposed to sitting in our collapsible chairs and holding our plates around a campfire. I’m not knocking our candlelight dinners by any means, but it was definitely a treat to be in an actual restaurant.

This is my tent mate, Birigt, and she is a great roomie.  Thankfully I don’t have to say goodbye to Birgit yet.  She’s with me until after Zanzibar. 

Unfortunately several people had gotten some kind of a 24 - 48 hour bug over the past few days so not everyone could enjoy the final meal.  Birgit was among the victims, but she got sick a few days earlier while we were still in Botswana, Chobe National Park to be specific. On this particular day, day 18 of my 54 camping extravaganza throughout Africa, it was pouring down rain and Birgit and 4 of our fellow travelers were sick as dogs, alternating between vomiting and the equally as pleasurable experience from the other end. Yeah, kind of a nightmare. Can you imagine being in a tent when your body is that kind of condition or doing your business in the campsite bathrooms? Horrible! We decided to hook it up for poor Birgit and upgraded to a room with actual beds and a private bathroom. Many of the campsites offered the option of upgrades and I am proud to say that this was the only time during my 54 day journey that I upgraded to a room. I’ll just go ahead and say what you are thinking….Tiff, you RULE!

The next morning several of us headed into Zimbabwe for the day because the view of the Falls is supposed to be better from the Zimbabwe side and we were all a bit interested to see how things were faring after all the madness.

It was only $35 for most of us to hop the border for the day, but our Canadian friend had to pay $75!  As an American I have gotten used to paying more for many of my foreign visas, China & Tanzania especially, but we were all kind of surprised that Canada was getting the middle finger from Zimbabwe. Canada…really?

As you probably know Zimbabwe has no currency now so ATMs dispensed USD, which was fabulous since most of the countries I was visiting in Africa required visa fees to be paid in USD. The entire time we were walking through the town we received plenty of offers to purchase their now defunct currency featuring denominations like the 100 trillion dollar bill. Tempting, but I was already a millionaire with the 50 million note supplied by my brother, Rob, after his visit to Zimbabwe.

So are you ready to see Vic Falls or what?

How about a little Vic Falls trivia. I know you like trivia. Which is taller and wider, Vic Falls or Niagara Falls?

If you said Vic Falls you are correct! Vic Falls is 1.7 km wide and 108 m high as compared to Niagara Falls, which is 1 km wide and 58 m high.

Check out Bambi chilling on the park grounds.

If you look closely in the shots below you’ll notice that there are people walking along the edge of the Falls.

Guess who will be doing that very same thing tomorrow? Yep, it’s me. Daredevil Tiff is back in full effect, but more on that later. Let’s keep gushing over the Falls on the Zimbabwe side.

And now a moment for Dr. Livingstone.

As you can see, the Falls were absolutely stunning. The border town appeared to be pretty nice from the short amount of time that I spent there with a handful of cute shops and one super mack daddy hotel, The Vic Falls Hotel.

Some folks decided to shop, but Fabian and I decided to spend a few hours in the lap of luxury and have a delicious lunch.

I went for the ostrich salad stir fry dish, and as a member of the Clean Plate Club, I made sure every single morsel of the meal was gone.

 

How about a little tour around the hotel grounds?

The picture above demonstrates how far behind I am in my blog.  Sorry, peeps, but I didn’t exactly have regular or reliable Internet in the African bush.  I’m working to get caught up. 

Yep, that spray is from Vic Falls. Not too shabby. It was a fabulous way to end the afternoon in Zimbabwe. We returned to Zambia just in time for sunset as well. These Zambia sunsets really are spectacular.

After sunset we meet up with our new tour leader, the super fabulous Janet, who you’ll meet shortly, as well as our new travel buddies. The new crew seemed very energetic and high energy so I was feeling great about Africa, part 2. Maretha, Raymond and Mark, my skydiving buddy, were heading back through South Africa and into Mozambique the next morning so we spent the rest of the evening reminiscing about the insanely awesome adventures we‘d had over the past few weeks. I was certainly sad to say goodbye to everyone, but those of us still in town woke up in time to see them off in the morning and of course get in a last round of hugs. Bye Maretha and Raymond. Thank you for a wonderful trip.

Raymond actually recorded the miles and by the time we reached Livingstone we had traveled a total of 5,370 km/3,336 miles from our starting point in Cape Town. That is some serious driving, folks. Apparently our 2ndtour from Livingstone to Nairobi is even more driving and somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,000+ km/4,970 miles. Wow!!! We were also told that unlike the first leg of the tour where everyday there is a reward, the second leg, while awesome and containing some of the best stuff we will likely see, is frequently several days of driving long hours with no reward, but when we finally get the reward it’s the bomb.  The Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Zanzibar and Maasai warriors were all part of this journey so I have every confidence that it’s gong to be fabulous.

After saying goodbye to Raymond, Maretha, Mark, and our land yacht, Pumba, we threw on our swimsuits and headed off to Devil’s Pool where we were going to literally swim on the edge of Vic Falls. There is only a small window of time where folks are allowed to visit Livingstone Island and swim in Devil’s Pool and it just happened to coincide with my visit to Vic Falls. As my mom would say, hot diggity dog!!! I couldn’t believe my luck. Let’s hope I survive!!!

We started out by riding the boat to Livingstone Island..

When were arrived at Livingstone Island we were given a brief overview of the island and of course had to have a moment for the Dr.

After paying our respects we shot over to the edge of the Falls for a quick photo shoot before plunging ourselves into the water and swimming for our lives.

We stripped down to our bathing suits and then swam along the edge of the Falls to get to the jump off point for Devil’s Pool. There was a rope lining the edge of the Falls, which we were instructed to grab and hold onto for dear life if we started to drift in that direction. Upon hearing this news we were all a bit nervous, and fearing for our lives, swam our little hearts out the second we hit the water.  As it turns out, this Michael Phelps level of swimming wasn’t necessary.  The current wasn’t that strong so one would have to be an incredibly weak swimmer to get swept over to the rope, but it was still a little freaky to be that close to the edge. Once we got to the jump off spot we walked along this little ledge and were given a 2 second explanation of where we needed to jump and the rock where we needed to park our behinds after the jump if we didn’t want to die. Um…

Our guide was the first to go. 

He told us we could either jump in like he did or slink off the rock into the pool. As luck would have it I was tapped to go first so I had to set the example. Bombs away!

One of the guys took all of our cameras so we could have photo memories of the insanity.  He hooked it up big time.   

Here’s a view from the edge.

We were literally sitting on the edge of Vic Falls. Crazy!!!

How about another view from the edge?

Can you believe that we were actually allowed to do this?

Here go Rami and Line, my skydiving buddies! Yippie!!!

After chillin’ on the edge of Vic Falls we swam back to Livingstone Island and were treated to a fabulous brunch. I don’t mind if I do…

What an incredible morning! I cannot believe that I was that close to the edge of Vic Falls. It was truly an unforgettable experience. After gorging ourselves on our gourmet breakfast we headed into the Zambia side of Vic Falls for the more pedestrian view of the Falls. (insert yawn and eye roll)

JUST KIDDING!!!

Any view of Vic Falls is the bomb, but practically dangling off the edge and living to tell about it is something special.

To get to the Falls we walked through the grounds of a very swank hotel. These carolers were singing some classics to get everyone into the holiday spirit.

Oh the weather outside is frightful…yeah, certain songs just don’t quite work in this climate.

Rudolph, African style! I love it. 

 

This hotel even had game walking around. Look how close we got to this zebra. Amazing! Some people even touched it. 

Behold Vic Falls, round 4, Zambia.  I’m nothing if not comprehensive, right? You can count on me, folks.

This is the bridge where the bungee jumpers did their thing. 

So…that’s a pretty big drop.  Scary!  

  

My glider pilot who took me over the Falls was saying that he was supposed to jump with his buddy last year, but his buddy went first and massively jacked up his back so he decided to give it a pass.  Yeah, no kidding.  I think if my friend got injured I’d probably bail too. 

That story kind of reminds me of a childhood incident we like to call the 13th step.  It was one of those games created by bored children with too much time on their hands, which involved jumping from the highest step possible in our basement stairwell.  I was the big winner jumping from the 13th step, but in the process I smashed my head into the low hanging ceiling and then crashed my tailbone on one of the lower steps.  I gimped around the basement clutching my throbbing head and backside much to the amusement of my brothers and Wendy.  Not surprisingly, none of them wanted to attempt the 13th step after my crash and burn.  Wusses…

So now that you’ve seen Vic Falls from almost every angle, which one do you like the best?  They are all pretty sweet, but I think Devil’s Pool was my fave.  I mean it really doesn’t get more insane that sitting on the edge of the Falls. 

After a full day we returned back to the campsite for a final sunset before heading on to our next destination.

Goodbye, Livingstone, I adored every second of my time here and am so glad I lived to tell about it! 

Malawi, here we come.

Get fired up for the holdiays, folks, because next time I see you we’ll be eating our faces off and opening presents at the stunningly gorgeous Lake Malawi.  See you soon!