Alicia’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 01 Sep 2010

Location: Livingstone, Zambia

MapWe woke up to the sounds of hippos. It's hard to describe what a hippo sounds like if you've never heard one. It's deep and sounds a bit like grunting and a bit like a cow and it sort of sounds like the hippos are laughing. The hippos sounded close, but we couldn't figure out where exactly they were. A wasp decided to sleep on our bathroom wall last night and was still there when we wanted to shower in the morning. Neither of us were sure what time wasps woke up, but Mike figured it wouldn't be until it warmed up more and it was still pretty chilly. We both showered and the wasp never moved. I kept one eye on the wasp at all times and was fully prepared to go running from the shower soaking wet if it did decide to move.

The first thing on our agenda for the day was Livingstone Island. We had a guy who was going to drive us around all day to the different things we wanted to see. He dropped us off at The Royal Livingstone which is a super fancy hotel on the river right by the top of the falls. We got on a small boat with two guys, a father and son from Kentucky, and made our way to Livingstone Island.

Wow. Just wow. Words will once again fail me when I try to describe Victoria Falls. Huge. Breathtaking. Gorgeous. Those words don't even begin to describe the Falls, and where we were standing was ON the falls, like I could look over the edge and see the water plummeting down into the gorge below. Our guide walked us right to the edge and took pictures of us. There were rainbows, and double rainbows arcing in the gorge from the spray of the waterfall. Our guide told us that this was the perfect time of year to see to falls when the spray didn't completely obscure the view. He said that where we were standing was water flowing over our heads during high water season and the spray made it so you couldn't see anything from the Island. The other big plus about visiting the falls this time of year is that we were given the option to swim in the Devil's Pool. You'll have to check out the pictures of us in the pool to believe it. We actually swam across a section of the river right before it tumbled over the ledge to a rock outcrop, then we jumped into a small pool that was right next to the edge of the waterfall. The only thing stopping you from falling over the edge is a rock wall under the water, it was intense and an amazing experience to be that close to the falls. I can only imagine what the people on the other side of the gorge on the Zimbabwe side thought when they saw people jumping into the river right before the falls. After swimming back we had a break for some food and then headed back to the main shore.

The next stop was the Victoria Falls park which would allow us to view the falls from the opposite gorge. The falls are quite long, so as we walked along the path we stopped at several amazing outcroppings to view different parts of the falls. We also were able to see the bridge that spans the river just after the falls and connects Zambia and Zimbabwe. As we were walking along we saw a guy bungie jumping off the bridge, something that the mother and daughter pair were telling us about the night before. Our next stop was that very bridge for a view of the river and rapids, and after that it was on to a reptile park.

The reptile park looked a little dodgy from the outside, then again, everything here looks a little dodgy from the outside; however it ended up being a really neat experience. We went from pit to pit walking along a wooden plank walkway. At every new enclosure the crocodiles kept getting bigger and older, so just when we thought we saw the biggest crocodile ever, the next pit housed an even bigger one. At some of the pits the guide would hop in right next to the crocs and touch their tail and get them to move a bit. We watched as one opened his huge jaws and hissed with his sharp teeth exposed and waited for something to come near enough for him to chomp down on. The guide took a stick and put it in the mouth of the croc and his mouth came down faster than we could even see. It startled us both and we just stared at the croc with wide eyes. We finally got to the oldest and largest croc which was 4.9 meters (about 14 feet) and the guide hopped into the pit once again. The guide told us that one of us could go in and stand near him, that since he was recently fed and was on land he wouldn't go after us. I was weary at first, like 'are you serious?', but I finally said 'what the heck' and climbed over the fence. The guide showed me how close I could get and I crouched down while Mike took a picture. I was pretty nervous, but I was glad I did it.

At the end of the park was some baby crocs and a long row of snake cages. We both got to hold the baby croc, it was so cute, in a slightly Jurassic Park sort of way. Their eyes just look like raptor eyes and seem to say "I would like to eat you". We admired the snakes one by one and the guide said we could hold one of them if we wanted. We were all over that, so he brought out a little brown snake and put it in my hands and then around my neck for Mike to take a picture. I was a bit freaked out when it was around my neck, but once I was holding it in my hands I really enjoyed it and so did Mike.

After a quick lunch break we went to the African craft market in town. That was the most exhausting market I've ever been too. There were 60 shops and each shopkeeper insists on talking to you, shaking your hand, and then trying to get you to walk in and look at his items insisting he or she will give you a good price. The price they first offer is never a good price, you have to negotiate them down to somewhere reasonable. We were surprised to learn that many of them wanted to trade for random things we may have had or did have. One guy was asking for pens, another wanted my hair tie for his girlfriend, and another wanted the other guy at the lodge's Nike socks. If I had known that I would have brought a whole box of pens and a bag of hair ties. We walked away with two things and were able to get rid of our remaining Rands from South Africa. They will take pretty much any type of cash it seemed. Between having to pay cash for visas to enter the country and other things we are now down to our last $10 cash, here's to hoping we get by on the rest of our trip on our credit card since finding a place to get U.S. dollars might be challenging here.

We got share dinner again with the other guests at the lodge and once again enjoyed a nice chat around the campfire before calling it night to get a good night's rest for whitewater rafting in the morning.