Well, if you made it through those last two entries and you're still with us, you're probably in he mood for something a little more interesting, at least in terms of travel! Either that, or you're family, and you're sort of obliged to follow along regardless ;)
As hard as it was at the time, we did have a few days in Livingstone to see the sights before leaving once again for Australia. And being smack dab in the middle of south central Africa, that means the "Smoke That Thunders" - AKA Victoria Falls.
I have to admit, I was wondering a bit about Australia, and even though there was about to be a new baby in the house, Cathy and Kelvin were probably starting to wonder if we would ever stop coming back! In the last 2 years, we've pretty much been there every 6 months with the exception of the August they came to us for our wedding in Vancouver.
Anyway, on the evening we arrived in Livingstone (which is just a stone's throw north of the falls); we took a sunset cruise out on the Zambezi River just above the falls. Above the falls, the river is a broad meandering behemoth teeming with wildlife including hippos, crocodile, and countless types of birds. The cruise is a bit of a booze fest, but it was fun to relax a bit finally after the arduous journey across the Zambian hinterland. The cruise lasted for a couple of hours, and in the distance, you can see the mist from the falls rising high into the air. At times, the mist reaches a height of over 500 m from the top of the falls.
The reason is that the physical geography of the falls is quite unique. The river basically falls into a crack in the earth about 2 km wide, just like a line drawn on the map. There is only one tiny exit point from the crack, just about in the middle of the line, through which the entire river has to squeeze through, far below. From here, the river zig zags back and forth into each of the older cracks into which the falls used to fall. Similar to Niagara Falls in Canada, Victoria Falls are receding over time, having been further downstream thousands of years ago. Because of this, the river below the falls is now a series of very deep interconnected canyons. It is here that some of the most dangerous rapids in the world are river rafted by a number of operators. That particular activity did not interest us after recent events, especially since it is VERY common on this river for the raft to flip; these are rapids of the highest danger classification.
The falls themselves are quite amazing, not for height or anything like that, but for width, and the fact that you essentially stand opposite them on the other side of the crack. The crack is less than 100 metres wide, so you are quite close, and the pressure wave created by the tiny space into which all that water is falling creates the tremendously strong updraft that carries the mist far into the air. You can feel this as you walk along the crevasse and over the aptly named "knife's edge bridge" that crosses one of the gullies. In the near distance, one also sees the bridge that forms the only crossing in the area between Zambia and Zimbabwe, with a bungee jump centre smack dab in the centre of the bridge. It's probably the only place in the world where you can throw half your body off a bridge in one country, and half in the other. Another "not on the list" activity for me! There's also a fairly neat statue of Dr. David Livingstone in the park near the falls showing him making the discovery as the first European to see them.
Back at our camp, we were staying in a neat little permanent tent, complete with electric light and a fan. We had to be careful with things because the local monkeys were everywhere and had no fear whatsoever. After a couple of nights there, we left the overland group we were with, and headed to town for the "Fawlty Towers" hostel. This turned out to be a great little place to crash for a few days before our flight, so we spent time swimming in the pool and just watching a couple of movies. There were also some Egyptian postcards that went out with Zambian stamps!
And there was even a soft ice cream machine at the bakery in town. Yum!