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Published: June 18th 2013
We spent the second night of our journey at the Nata Lodge in central-eastern Botswana. Before we set out on our days drive to Victoria Falls, we got up early and went for a game drive out into the Nata Bird Sanctuary which is part of the Sua Pan. The Pan is a large topographical depression that fills up with water during the rainy season (winter). Like the Great Salt Lake in Utah, the water in the Pan is salty, but the Flamingos don't seem to mind it, they feed on a small brine shrimp that live in this water. As compared to other game drives we have done in Southern Africa, there was not much wildlife to be seen in the Pan. The beauty of this place is in the vastness of it all. About the only wildlife we did see was the flamingos, some pelicans, a few herds of blue wildebeest, and thanks to the keen eyes of Sophia we got a glimps of a Black Spitting Cobra.
After the game drive, we sat down for breakfast, then packed up and hit the road to Vic Falls. The drive North to the Kasane area took a
Nata to Vic Falls - 06
The Terryberry's in Zimbabwe!
few hours, along the way we seen free roaming elephants, zebra and sable antelope. This part of Botswana does have some farm land, but it is mostly open bush with wildlife still roaming freely. The excitement of the day started when we were going through the immigration post on the Botswana side. The Terryberry's went through with no problems, and we were actually complete with this process before the Joiners even entered the post. When we went outside, we found Wray and Judy were tearing their pick-up appart, come to find out Wray was missing his wallet. After an exhaustive search, the wallet was not to be found, and Wray had the realization that he had left it in the bath house at the camping area at Nata Lodge. So we called the Lodge to see if the staff had found it, but no one had turned it in....it was gone for good. Luckily he was not keeping much of their money in it so all was not lost. Once we got through Botswana's Immigration Post, we crossed the border into Zimbabwe and proceded to go through their customs and immigration process. Had we done some proper research, we would
have been better prepared for this ordeal. So for my experiences with crossing the borders in southern Africa have been pretty much painless, until now. Each of us had to purchase a $30 entry visa, that was no big deal, but the fact that we were bringing vehicles into Zimbabwe, caused us to have to fill out a bunch of paper work and pay about $130 to customs, this was an expense we had not been prepared for. This whole process took about two hours, and we were about the only ones at the post during this time, welcome to Africa. Once we finally had all of our paper work complete, we headed to the gate. The "gate keeper" looked like Snoop-Dog's long lost twin brother, and he had a bit of an attitude. We rolled up to him and asked how he was doing, he responded, "Not so well". He then proceeded to look over our vehicle and came back to the driver's window and he looked me staight in the eye and said "What have you brought me today." Having never been "shaken down" before, I was a little taken-a-back. I offered him a soda, he said no
thanks, I offered him some gum, he said "no, I have some already". So I then asked what he would like. He again looked me straight in the eyes and said with out hesitation, "Dollars, Rand, Pula, whatever you got." At this point I was a little worried (and pissed off). We had just spent around $250 to get into this country, and the first "official" we come across is demanding a bribe. I reached for my wallet and luckily the only bill that came out was a 10 Rand note (worth about $1.20), quite nervous that he would be insulted by such a small amout, I handed him the note, thank god he accepted it and let us go on our way.
Once past the gate-keeper we pulled over to document our official arrival into Zimbabwe, see the pics below. The drive from the border post to Vic Falls was beautiful, a nice paved road cutting right through the bush. It was about a 45 minute drive to Vic Falls, along the way we spotted many Giraffe. Arriving in Vic Falls we headed straight to our hotel. That evening we had dinner in our rooms and
worked on cancelling all of Wray's credit cards that were lost with his wallet. We also recieved some distessing news view email, Rita's father had suffered a heart attack two days prior (the very day we left Pretoria) and was getting ready for surgery that very minute. Good news is, is that Rita's father is now doing quit well, but at the time, we were struggling with the idea of canceling this incredible vacation and finding a flight out of the bush to Kansas City for Rita the next day. Over the next several days we stayed in constant contact with Rita's mom and brother to monitor his condition, all the while bouncing around Africa in our 4x4's.
Anyway, the next day we toured one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls. (If anyone is counting, that is five out of seven for me.) We first viewed the Falls via an amazing ride in a Helicopter. See the pictures below, words will do it no justice. A couple of the passengers were very apprehensive about flying in a helicopter, but once Olivia set her mind to doing it, Sophia and Mom had to swallow
their fears and come along for the ride.
Once we landed back safely on the ground we headed down to the Falls for an up-close and personal view. Along the way we stopped at the "Big Tree", which was a giant Baobab tree.
As you can see from the pictures, the Zambezi River is very wide as it enters the falls (1.7 kilometer, just over a mile). The water falls into a narrow gorge and then proceeds to zig zag through a very steep and rocky canyon for several miles making for some very serious white water. The view of the falls, from the oposite cliff of the gorge makes for some amazing photos, that is if you can keep your camera dry. The mist created from the falls is incredible, without proper rain gear, one will get soaked to the bone. As you can see from the pictures, the mist has created a rain forest like ecosystem in the middle of a fairly arid part of Africa. As you can see we had an amazing day at Victoria Falls.
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