Much of the day was taken up by travel to Livingstone, Zambia, home of Victoria Falls. Our driver to the airport was quite informative and we learned that the thriving orchards did not do much for the local economy. They were owned by affluent white South Africans and the workers were from Zimbabwe where unemployment is extremely high and people are willing to do backbreaking work for next to nothing.
Our flight was delayed and we spent about 4 hrs in Kruger national airport, a small airport tastefully designed in a safari lodge motif. We were picked up by Cedric our driver from Waterberry Lodge. At each place we have been to every driver, guide and all staff introduce themselves by name and usually make a point of remembering yours.
We got our first taste of Zambia on our drive through Livingstone town and on to our lodge which was out a ways. Livingstone is named after the medical missionary David Livingstone who was the first white man to see Victoria Falls. He promptly replaced the local name, Mosi-oa-Tunya, which meant “smoke that thunders” and named it after the Queen. Despite that bit of eurocentrism he was beloved by the people. He did quite a bit of exploring, attempted to confront the slave trade and brought a lot of good to the area. Livingstone is one of four cities in Zambia and the center of tourism. In Zambia you can work for the government ( the best job because it has benefits) , tourism, the copper mines or factories. Zambia looks and feels very different then South Africa, more what I had expected. It is very flat, more uniformly poor, little evidence of colonial influence, many people still live in traditional villages, and there are very few white people. The town is primarily made up of one story brick buildings in various stages of disrepair, restaurants, shops with their wares displayed in front, a large Shoprite and 7 Eleven. There is a very active street life. People walk or bicycle everywhere. Women carry their babies tied to their back with colorful print cloths and the most surprising items balanced on top of their heads: sacs of vegetables, large boxes, television sets.
Waterberry lodge is large, beautifully, planted and manicured, and has a prime spot on the bank of the Zambezi River. The accommodations and open dining area are tan stucco and wood with thatched roofs. We opened the doors to see the most beautiful bed (see pictures). We arrived in time to take the sunset cruise with the 6 other guests ( we have no idea how this place and Chupunga can stay in business with such small number of guests since the employ so many staff and different people to attend to the guest’s every need)
The river was quiet and peaceful. We saw many birds and small crocodiles that lie perfectly still on their perfectly matched branches. The most interesting thing was the weaver’s nests; a community of small round balls made of twigs and hanging off the branches like Christmas decorations. The sunset was beautiful. The sky's here are an amazing and varied array of cloud shapes with dramatic backlighting.
Our dinner was waiting for us on the beautifully lit deck. Service was gracious and the food was good