Saturday, November 26, 2005. Lusaka to Livingstone, Zambia. I caught the 10:00 a.m. CR bus to Livingstone (ZK 65,000). The bus essentially left on time (10:15 a.m.). We arrived in Livingstone at about 4:45 p.m. As usual, I was the only non-African on the bus for most of the journey. The ride was uneventful and the scenery quite boring—mostly farmland and villages. From the CR bus station in Livingstone, I walked to my selected accommodation, Jolly Boys Backpackers (Chalet ZK 90,000; US$20). This is one of the nicest backpacker places I have been to. They have a restaurant, bar, swimming pool, Internet, pool table, and lots of space to lounge about. They also have an office that can book any one of the many activities offered in and around Livingstone including white-water rafting, canoeing, river cruises, safaris, helicopter flights, and wildlife viewing. I planned to do either white-water rafting or river boarding (called body boarding in Hawaii), and an ultralight flight over Victoria Falls.
Sunday, November 27, 2005. Victoria Falls, Livingstone, Zambia. I caught the free morning Jolly Boys' shuttle to the Victoria Falls section of Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, about 11 km south of Livingstone. (ZK 49,000). Unfortunately, I didn't bring enough money with me, but Josh, a fellow American studying in Cape Town, was kind enough to loan me the entrance fee. Victoria Falls was named after Queen Victoria by Scottish missionary and physician David Livingstone, the first European to set eyes on the falls in 1855. The Zambesi river, which Victoria Falls is part of, forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. With the ongoing political and economic turmoil in Zimbabwe, many tourists elect to stay in and visit the falls from Livingston. A path from the park entrance leads to edge of gorge, called the Eastern Cataract. During the wet season (Dec. - Apr.), a little over half of the falls are on the Zambia side of the border with Zimbabwe. As November is considered the end of the "hot and dry" season, the falls were only flowing on the Zimbabwe side. I decided against walking into Zimbabwe as it would require a visa costing US$55 (for Americans) and a US$20 park entrance fee. Unlike Zambia, Zimbabwe does not offer a lower cost day visa. Still, it was quite dramatic to actually see the falls from the Zambia side—the bare sheer black walls of the Batoka gorge in the foreground with the falls and mist in the background (During the wet season, it's difficult to see any of the falls due to all the mist). The falls span 1200 meters at a height of 111 meters. 1200 meters of the falls are on the Zambian side and 500 meters on the Zimbabwe side. 900 million liters of water flow over the falls at its peak during end of March.
After viewing the falls, I crossed over to the dry portion of the Eastern Cataract and walked to Livingstone Island, which straddles the middle of the falls during the wet season. It took about twenty minutes of hopping over river rocks interspersed with water to get to Livingstone Island. The water level was so low that it wasn't clear exactly where Livingstone Island was until someone approached me and informed me that I could not go any further. As Victoria Falls flowed, I peered into the depths of the Batoka gorge and the Zambesi river a hundred meters below—quite a spectacular sight.