28 July 2013, Sunday
Karen is again taking over the blog writing…
Having arrived in Livingstone after dark on Friday, the first order of business on Saturday morning was to go to the ATM and withdraw Zambian currency. We made a list of our expected expenses while in Zambia, including the 70 Kwacha each that we would be paying a taxi to take us back to Namibia on Sunday, somewhat less than the 100 Kwacha each that Sam charged us on Friday. The staff at the desk at Jollyboys is amazing; they told us what it would cost for each of our taxis. Jollyboys provides a free bus to the falls in the morning, about 10 km, but we would need to pay for a taxi to get back in the afternoon. We also bought apples for lunch, which we forgot to take with us, and needed money for park entrance fees. After breakfast at the hostel we caught the bus to the falls.
There is truly no way to describe Victoria Falls. One end of the canyon is in Zambia and the other in Zimbabwe. Water falls the entire length of the canyon. At no time can you begin to see the whole falls from any point on the ground. It is as though the whole length of a lake ends in a cliff and the water from the lake falls over the edge into a canyon. There are no words to describe this majesty, but the pictures will give you an idea of the beauty. Sun shining through the mist produced by the water hitting the bottom of the canyon resulted in glorious rainbow after rainbow.
We started by entering the Zambia park and walking a short path to the first view of falls, then following the path to the view of the water above the falls. Water stretches away from you and the only indication that there is a major falls nearby is the mist rising out of the canyon. The path leads back around the end of the canyon and along the edge of the canyon that is opposite the falls, allowing visitors to see falls after falls. We crossed the Knife Edge bridge to continue on our side of the canyon, putting on the light ponchos we brought to keep from being soaked by the mist produced by the falls.
Before leaving the park, I told Marsha we should check out the Boiling Pot trail. She pointed out that it goes to the bottom of the canyon and we would have to climb back out, but she was willing to do it. As we started down this path, there were many baboons, large and small, climbing around the hills on either side. They were so cute! I took a number of pictures, including one of a large baboon sitting close to a bench. A moment later, we found why the local people don’t think they are so cute. The large baboon approached Marsha and reached for the bag she carried across her shoulder. We had been warned that the baboons would try to take bags and cameras, especially if the bag had fruit in it, but no-one mentioned how you get the baboon to go away and leave your bag alone! I know I wasn’t much help. Marsha tried to turn away and walk away, but at one point the baboon had a hand on the strap of her bag and she had to hit it away. She took every opportunity afterwards to wash her hand to ‘get rid of the baboon.’ I felt bad for not helping in some way, but I also really wish I had a video, or at least a picture, of her baboon encounter, considering that we know she came out on top!
The rest of the walk to the Boiling Pot included crossing a couple streams on small stone bridges. We kept thinking “Disney got it right,” because it was so picture perfect and looked like something you would see in Disney World. We came out on a large rock shore of the river, with a view up to the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe. This was the best view of the bridge and we were glad we made the trek down, even though we did have to climb back up. Fortunately, we did not encounter the large baboon again, but Marsha carried a couple sticks (useless, really) and a decent sized rock (a throwing stance with a rock in your hand seemed to scared them a bit) and we made it back to the top without any more baboon encounters.
The falls stretch much farther down the canyon than you can see from the park on the Zambian end of the canyon, so we decided to leave the Zambia park and walk to Zimbabwe.
Crossing the border is done by having your passport stamped to leave Zambia, then walking across the huge bridge that is “no-man’s land”, since it is not in either country. This is the bridge that the bungee jumping and canyon swing takes place on, so we stopped and watched several bungee jumpers. I enjoyed watching, knowing that Marsha already had that out of her system! We then went through the Zimbabwe border, filling out entry forms, paying for our visas ($30 USD), and getting our passports stamped. After paying the entrance fee to go into the Zimbabwe park, in USD, and walking a short distance to the end of the canyon we were treated to more wondrous views of the falls. I think the most impressive views were from this end of the canyon. We could only see Livingstone Island when the mists were at their lightest. Rainbow falls, the only place Marsha saw rainbows last December, was the least impressive of the rainbows, but still beautiful.
By about 3:30 we were ready to head back to the hostel, since we had walked a number of kilometers, still had to walk back to where we would get a taxi into Livingstone, and crossing two borders in the process. Knowing that it would be dark and cold by about 6, we headed out. We did have to take some time to watch some more bungee jumpers and to buy me a t-shirt between the two borders. Back in Zambia we got into a taxi and only had to wait a few minutes for the taxi to fill up, becoming a ‘shared taxi’ and reducing the price to less than half of a non-shared taxi. We were too tired to walk into town looking for dinner, so we again ate at the grill in the hostel, bought internet time to let the US know we had made it safely to Zambia, and went to bed, ready for another travel experience the next day.