Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Doctor Livingstone, I Presume

Statue of David Livingstone overlooking Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

I went to Victoria Falls over the long weekend with Wenli and Nicole (two of the many fellows, interns, and other volunteer type people I work with). It was, to say the least, an incredible experience. We stayed in Livingstone, Zambia, and crossed over for one day to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, so that we could see both sides. Here's what ensued...

We stayed at Jollyboys Backpackers--highly recommended for the good accommodation, ready access to lots of Mosi beer, funky setup, and incredibly nice, helpful, and informative staff. Zambians definitely give the Senegalese a run for their money on being the nicest people in Africa...

We took a river cruise on the Zambezi at sunset on the Lady Livingstone, complete with an open bar, magnificent views, and wildlife, such as...

...bee eaters, which nest in the bank of the river, and other cool birds, like a kingfisher and a fish eagle (I, at least, was excited about this since my greatest ambition in life is to become a crazy bird lady)...

...and a (small) crocodile.

The sunset over the Zambezi was amazing.

The next morning, we rode elephants.

Mine was named Bop. He wouldn't go near the mounting platform, so I had to climb up to get on as he kneeled, then had to hold on tight while he stood up. I ended up covered in dust and elephant saliva and mucus.

Then we saw Vic Falls from the Zambia side, which was amazing. Behind me is the Eastern Cataract.

I crossed this bridge--the Knife's Edge--while being soaked by a torrential downpour coming off the Falls (the big white cloud behind).

There were lots of baboons by the entrance to the park, which is also right next to the Zim/Zam borders. They spent most of their time trying to break into cars, trucks, and buses.

This is the Victoria Bridge, which connects Zambia and Zimbabwe. It was built as part of Cecil Rhodes' vision for a Cape to Cairo railway.

I jumped off it.

It's the third-highest jump in the world, at 111 meters (that's 364 feet in American), with four seconds of free fall. Those four seconds felt like hours and also like no time at all.

The next day, we crossed into Zimbabwe on foot to see what we could see.

There was so much spray coming off the falls, it was like being in a monsoon, shower, and under an upturned bucket of water all at the same time. I'm wearing a raincoat and a poncho (and put on running shorts, knowing it was futile), and Nicole and Wenli rented slickers. PS the guy taking this picture was unclear on the concept, so Dr. Livingstone's head was cut off.

The cataracts on the Zim side were unbelievable, even if we couldn't see them for the spray most of the time.

A rare clear moment at the falls.

Then we decided to walk through part of the national park. Several signs about the danger and unpredictability of wild animals did not comfort me.

Neither did all the fresh elephant poop on the ground.

Neither did the fresh tracks of elephants and unidentifiable feline-like creatures.

Neither did the trees whose bark was ripped off by elephants.

We found some warthogs, and that was the extent of the wildlife. As a co-worker who used to work in a game reserve in Botswana pointed out, it was probably best that our walk was uneventful, since she knows the area and said it's crawling with hippos and crocs. Oops.

We also saw a baobab, appropriately named The Big Tree, where what are now Zambians and Zimbabweans used to trade--those on the Zam side would cross the Zambezi in boats. The trunk's circumference is over 20m (65 ft).

All in all, a great trip.


  1. LOVELY! Looks like a blast. I am soooo jealous. I cooped up reading contracts and property, barf! Finals are next week. But then I go to Chiapas, Mexico for three weeks! woot woot!

    miss you.


  2. attractions and activites

    • Table Mountain (5 minutes)
    • The Cape Winelands (45 minutes)
    • Cape Point (45 minutes)
    • Cape Town International Convention Centre (5 minutes)
    • Robben Island Tour (5 minutes)
    • V&A Waterfront (5 minutes)
    • Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (20 minutes)
    • Hout Bay (20 minutes)
    • Camps Bay (10 minutes)
    • Airport (20 minutes)

    cape town hotels

  3. I like the way you say "I jumped off it." That is such a great shot, Julia. You look fearless with your arms outspread like that.
    It makes me weak in the knees to imagine leaping from such a great height. Better than falling though, eh?
    You're certainly alive, my fine young friend!