Published: April 21st 2009April 21st 2009
high water=more mist=falls partially obscured
Well, I've made it home, and am currently seriously jet-lagged, but let me fill you in on the last week.
Chobe, part 2
The last afternoon in Chobe, we went for a sunset cruise on the Chobe River. What a fabulous ride that was! Along the shore we saw herds upon herds of elephants, some with whole families (the youngest elephant we saw was estimated to be 5 days old.) And, in the water, hordes of hippos played around, babies climbing on their mother's back, etc. I have some photos with both elephant and hippo families in the same photo!
But both nights in Chobe, our tents were infested with ants, so we were happy to leave there the next morning.
Because of the high water levels, there was concern about crossing the Zambezi River with our large truck (10-ton frame). We'd already had trouble crossing the Okavango River on that ferry when we went to the Delta. So, it was determined that we would go through Zimbabwe, and see Victoria Falls from that side. It meant buying an extra visa (which cost everyone else either $30 or $55, but only Canadians $75, apparently because we charge
"rapeling" in our jargon - yup, that's me!
them that much--I'll have to take this up with Stephen Harper), but also getting that extra stamp into our passports, seeing the Falls from the side with the much better view, and adding another country to the sleeve of our customized trip T-shirts.
The impressiveness of Victoria Falls was enhanced by the fact that it had the highest flow of water in 50 yrs. The result was, so much mist that at some of the viewpoints we could see only mist, no water behind it; nevertheless, it was still an amazing site. While most of us were admiring the Falls from the many vantage points, a few in our group were either bungee jumping or bridge swinging from the bridge (or both). This is the third highest bungee in the world, and the swing has a very long freefall before the Tarzan rope takes over. Those who did both thought the swing was scarier.
We also spent time buying souvenirs from the Zimbabweans (incl. $100 trillion dollar bills [for $1US]), more to help out the people than because of the souvenirs. Zimbabwe is a desperate place right now. They'd beg for anything to trade for their
Our last night on the trip
We had sunsets like this almost every night
hand-crafts, and seemed especially interested in our water bottles. But we'd prepared for this and had bought rice, beans and other essentials with our leftover Botswana pula, to trade for their goods.
Before dark, we crossed over into Zambia, found our resort (but again we were tenting), and purchased our tickets for tomorrow's activities. Because of the high water, the famous rafting option was closed. Some went horseback riding, some went on a "walking with lions" trip, and I and six others chose an abseil/flying fox/gorge swing combo. Abseil is rapelling (which I enjoy), flying fox is a variation of zip-lining, where you fly spread-eagled, facing downward, across the gorge, and the gorge swing (or tarzan swing) turned out to be only a slightly smaller version of the bridge swing, something none of us were anticipating--53 m. freefall before the swing takes over. But we all survived our adrenalin rushes, and were up for our final dinner cruise and wrap-up party that night (Wed., Apr. 15).
Thursday morning, we all said our good-byes. We were still a really close group, with everyone so kind and considerate. Our leader, Jon, considered it the best trip he'd
the most southerly point of Africa
done (because of the cohesive group), despite numerous problems along the way, most of which I haven't even alluded to on this blog. Ten of us flew out of Livingstone to Johannesburg, while 2 stayed in Livingstone an extra few days, and eight were continuing on the next leg of the trip to Nairobi. Nine of the 10 flew back to Europe directly from Jo-burg, but I had scheduled a few more days in Capetown.
So, affter arriving in Cape town, I rented a car for 2 days, driving on the left for the first time in my life, and headed out into the countryside. I saw a lot of great scenery, and stopped at a few places, including a tour of wine country, a stop at the southernmost tip of Adrica (Cape Agulhas), at Mossel Bay, a resort town, and several other small towns. Altogether, I put on over 1100 km. over the 2 days, but saw a good portion of the Western Cape province.
Then, Sunday afternoon, I headed back to the airport , for the long trip home: Cape Town to Jo'burg, Jo'burg to London, London to Vancouver--22-1/2 hrs. of flying, plus 7 hrs. of
layovers in the 2 airports.
I'm home, safe and sound, completely healed from my injuries, full of great memories and loads of photos, and friends with a few more people from around the world.
Would I recommend this trip to others? Absolutely! But be prepared for tough conditions, long days on the road, hot weather, and unimagined contingencies that can only be chalked up to "This is Africa."
Photos will have to wait for another time.
There are more photos below