Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mosi oa Tunya

Because of the flight times we left Friday morning for Livingstone, Zambia to see Victoria Falls. One of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World the falls are located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The latter used to be the preferred country for viewing but due to the political/economic climate we chose to go to the Zambia side.

We touched down at a very small airport and were immediately assaulted with the smell of a country that has yet to adopt deodorant in its personal hygiene regimen. We had arranged transportation through our hotel and were met by two drivers that led us to their very small and quite pitiful excuses for taxis. No longer in the shopping center laden suburb of Rosebank, it was the first time since reaching the continent in Egypt that I felt like I was in “Africa”. With the windows rolled down I took a deep breath and took in the meager sights as we rode through the small town of Livingstone to our hotel.

Surprisingly enough staying and doing things in Zambia is pretty expensive. My guess is that they have this one thing to really draw in tourists so they are going to make the most of and out of it. I say good for them. The hotels in Livingstone are either fairly basic or exorbitantly expensive. We went for the basic and stayed at the Nglolide Lodge just a short distance from the falls. It was quaint, clean, had a great little outside area and an awesome Indian Restaurant. We had a very late lunch and then headed out to the Zambezi River for a sunset cruise.

More of a “booze cruise” than anything else we enjoyed the lazy ride down the river, met some girls from Long Island and took in our first Zambian sunset.

When we got back we broke out a deck of cards, a few bottles of duty free wine and played some good old fashion Brazilian “Burro”…a pretty fun game that I’ll be sure to teach you guys when we get home. Mainly because Julie doesn’t kick my butt at it :)

We slept in a little on Saturday and then the majority of us went to see the falls via helicopter. The falls are located in a narrow valley and over a mile long so it is the best way to really understand how incredibly beautiful and majestic they really are…

After the helicopter we went to see the falls up close and personal. A nice lady from Seattle had told us we would be soaked so we dressed accordingly and headed out. The falls were roaring thanks to the wettest rainy season they’ve had in 60 years. David Livingstone was the first white man to see the falls in 1855 and named them after the then queen, Victoria. The local name for the falls is Mosi oa Tunya which means “the smoke that thunders”. The spray from the falls, which can reach 1000 feet tall can literally be seen from 30 miles away. On the Zambia side you get to walk along the front of the falls and literally walk through the spray as you go.

It was an awesome sight and even more incredible feeling being enveloped by the falls.

Our experience in Zambia was really nice. If we’re talking nature, the falls were one of the most impressive things we’ve seen thus far. The people of Zambia were all extremely welcoming and seemed to always have a smile to share. It is obvious they have much less than their counterparts in South Africa but the crime is very low and we were told we could walk around the town at any hour without fear. This is a luxory not found in any part of Jo’burg. Although they had little to offer in ways of extreme comfort outside of the resorts, I enjoyed my time in their country very much and am most grateful for their hospitality and warmth. It was the African welcome I had been waiting for all along.

Next weekend we go to Kruger National Park for our next safari experience.

1 comment:

Mark Benson said...

There are loads of ways to get amused around and by the Victoria Falls; you just have to go for a cheap flight to Zimbabwe and then it is totally up to you as to view the amazing falls from down there or by taking a wonderful helicopter tour or by sitting in the running water and feeling the push it brings forward. Everything around the falls is simply spectacular.