Where to begin. I feel like I’m pedaling backwards – have you ever tried to do that? It ain’t easy! We’ve been to so many places and seen so many amazing things since we visited the Ahhh-mazing Victoria Falls in Zambia. But I just can’t write out of order. So I’m trying to catch up.
Let’s see. Where was I? Ahh yes. We were leaving Lusaka, Zambia and all the new friends we made there (as well as some old ones), to head to Vic Falls by bus. Not only were we undaunted by the 6 hour bus trip, we were looking forward to it. Because we knew that it could only improve from the busses we are familiar with in Niger. And we were right!
Check out this luxury liner.
It’s not a great picture of the bus, but you can take my word for it. I wasn’t sure what ‘facilities’ might be available on the journey, so I decided it best to take advantage of what was at the bus station. You had to pay to enter – which actually gave me a level of confidence for the condition of the bathroom. Until I entered…This is what was hanging on the wall.
your nose on the floor? Really? And if one was so inclined to do such a thing, were there undercover bathroom police to catch the offender? Fortunately I didn’t slip as I did my thing. But I was left to wonder why washing my face in the sink would cost me a dollar.
Back to the bus. As you can see, there are screens on each seat. But even more entertaining and surprising was the man in the white shirt in front of the bus. He was preaching! From what we could figure, that was pretty standard for bus rides. He preached for about the first 20 minutes of the trip, and then spent a few minutes talking about his needs and then came around and took an offering. On the bus! All I could think is that we are NOT in Niger!
We stopped once for lunch and had about 15 minutes. We couldn’t leave anything in our seats so had to carry our computers with us to the facilities. This time there were no warning signs about blowing your nose on the floor. What a relief that was because I wasn’t sure where I was going to blow otherwise!
Here we are carrying all our stuff back to the bus.
The bus was so big I wasn’t able to see much. But I did manage to snap one picture on our way.
I think I took this picture close to our arrival in Livingstone.
We were able to book a hotel online and were told that any taxi would know where it was upon our arrival in Livingstone. They were right. There were many taxi’s that were more than willing to take us where we wanted to go. Here this man is convincing us that he can fit all our bags (remember, we have all our stuff for 5 months) into his taxi. And he could. Left very little room for Tobi and I in the back seat – but we’re used to traveling like that. And it was a short trip to our hotel.
After checking into our hotel, we employed our same taximan to take us out to see what we could see. We only had a couple of days so we wanted to make a plan. Here we are driving up to where you can take a helicopter ride.
Our taxi driver suggested we visit this place. It was sunset and was beautiful. It was on the Zambezi River and was where you could get a big boat for a river cruise.
We made plans to take a helicopter ride over the Falls the following morning and the anticipation of that made us hungry. Not to mention that we hadn’t eat since lunch on our bus trip. This is where we ate and not only can I not remember where it was, I can’t remember what type of food it was. But I’m sure it was good!
The next morning the helicopter place picked us up at our hotel. Wasn’t that nice of them? I was excited and nervous at the same time. Not nervous because I am afraid of helicopters (though none of us had ever been on one), but nervous because of my stomach…
The helicopter was showing some other people around so we decided to do our own looking around.
Check out this tree!
Looks like we should carve our initials or something into it!
While waiting for our turn, we had this view of Victoria Falls. It’s also called ‘The Smoke That Thunders’. Any guesses why?
Chillin’ – but why are we facing the wrong direction?
Our helicopter is on the way!
This was a really big day. We started out by seeing Victoria Falls from the sky, on both the Zambia and Zimbabwe side. After that, we walked right through the falls, and then we hiked down into a gorge and saw them from below. It was all incredible. I’m posting lots of pictures because even though the pictures can’t capture it all, I figure the more I post, the more the majesty is seen. By the way, Victoria Falls is 1.7 kilometers across and is 2/3 in Zambia and 1/3 in Zimbabwe.
Here’s our chopper!
I got to sit in the front. Sometimes there are benefits to being the designated photographer.
This was a first.
For all of us.
We’re taking off…The smoke that thunders – spray is thrown hundreds of feet into the air and can be seen for miles.
Now I’m just going to post a bunch of pictures I took while viewing the Falls from all different directions. If you think the pictures are amazing, imagine what it looked like in person!
Check out the bridge. You’ll see this from lots of angles.
Now we’re in Zimbabwe. That’s the town of Livingstone in the background.
All is still well!
This is our pilot. He takes people up and down on 15 minute helicopter rides all day. (wonder if HE needs dramamine). I asked him if he ever gets tired of it. He simply said, “No”. Can you figure out why?!
I guess we could consider this a field trip.
Leaving the area.
There’s that bridge again.
Back on the ground.
We decompressed while Tobi tried his hand at this xylophone.
Cool silhouette. Thundering ‘smoke’ in the background.
After our incredible chopper excursion (and I might add 15 minutes up there was quite enough for me), we made our way to the entrance of the park. Here’s Tobi, ready to go.
I got a few pictures with my good camera, but then we had to put it away. Fortunately we were advised NOT to purchase the raincoats for the walk through, as it was not possible to stay dry. I put my camera in a double ziploc in the case, and the case in another bag.
Beautiful, I know.
Now comes the fun part…Thankfully I had my iPhone in a Lifeproof case so I could take pictures. But there was so much ‘thunder’ that I mostly could only guess what I was taking pictures of.
water on the bridge was ankle deep and this is where Tobi just sat down, threw his head back and shouted, “I LOOOOOOOVE THIS!!!” It was priceless.
Here’s a few seconds of video. You can hear the thundering.
I know those look like icicles, but it really wasn’t cold. I don’t like cold and I especially don’t like wet and cold. And I was fine. So it definitely was not cold.
It was hard to even open our eyes! Every once in awhile a breeze would blow the mist and you could see how close you were to the Falls.
We made it to the other side
Soaking wet but so in awe.
What a cutie…
Or not… Oh, and there’s that bridge again.
Very not cute… But what was amazing was how just down the path everything was dry.
We happened upon David Livingstone – a missionary/explorer who was the first European to see Victoria Falls. The town the Falls are in – Livingstone, was named after him.
It’s a huge statue.
Neal is also a missionary / explorer.
The park didn’t have a commercialized feel at all, and there were monkeys everywhere.
Tobi wasn’t too sure what to think of this guy. Frankly, I wasn’t either.
More eye level view of the smoke.
You can see a glimpse of the Falls on the right.
Did I say uncommcercialized? We walked along the river for a bit while seeing no one. And if we wanted to, we could have walked right into it and ‘swum’ down those Falls.
We didn’t want to.
The base of the Falls – or whatever it’s called right before it crashes over the rocks – is right above Neal’s head.
Swimming anyone? That’s living on the edge right there!
More death-defying edge living. Not really, but it sounds impressive. It sure would be easy to walk to that edge though.
So we’ve see the Falls and the bridge from the sky, from eye level so now it’s time to have a look from below. We were hungry and thirsty after seeing such incredibleness and were actually on the search for some food. But instead we came across a path that led, well, down. We may not have noticed it except there were a couple of people walking up. We asked what it was and they said it was a pretty good hike but was worth it. We then noticed a sign that suggest the hike time, including a warning that one should carry water to drink. But we, being the amazing people that we are, said “Hmmph. Who needs water. We live in the desert.”
So off we went. And after seeing that kind of beauty, who can think of their thirst glands? Is there such a thing as thirst glands?
Down we go.
Now we’re looking up at the monkeys.
There’s the bridge again!
We thought it quite nice of them to have put a resting bench on the trail. It was even more useful on the hike up.
“The splendor of the King, clothed in majesty. Let all the earth rejoice”, is what comes to mind. This is a rejoicing earth if ever I saw one.
Wow. Just wow.
I have obviously been walking behind these guys – taking pictures.
We walked through this!
I really was there.
Crossing a stream close to the bottom.
There she is again! We could have bungee jumped off that bridge. But we didn’t.
That spray is from the Falls – even though we can’t see them from here.
Basking in the Zambia sun while being cooled by the spray of the Zambezi River.
It was at this point that we again remembered that it had been a good number of hours without food or drink so we decided we should begin our hike upward, so as to not have to spend the night on the river. I might be a bit intimidated by that.
Remember the thoughtfully placed bench? We made good use of it.
We made it to the top and saw this bridge – it’s a different bridge. It was the one we walked on through the Falls.
There it is a bit closer.
That’s the jungle we just walked out of.
I noticed that the path continued on past the entrance to the gorge hike. There was no food or drink for sale anywhere that we could see close by. I was tired – we were all tired. But I didn’t want to miss out on something. There was uncharted road ahead. I also knew if we went far to find food, after eating we’d be too tired to come back. So with tummy’s grumbling and palets dry, onward we marched. Here’s one of the things we saw.
Zooming in on the bridge we saw there were also train tracks that ran parallel with the road.
We (or so I thought) continued on down the path. I soon found that I was alone. I stopped and waited for a minute or two thinking I must have missed something wonderful. I backtracked. This was the something wonderful I found.
They quit on me. Literally laid down and quit.
They could have been monkey lunch.
Or we could have made the monkeys our lunch. I think Tobi is thinking about it.
This guy (or, umm, lady) wasn’t interested in moving.
Finally got by and they returned to their whatever they were doing.
We had been advised that there was a particular hotel – a very fancy, expensive (to the tune of $700/night expensive) that we should visit. Maybe just have a meal there. We asked around about it and were told it wasn’t too far down the road. So there we were. Three tired, hungry, dehydrated American Nigeriennes marching down the road in the sun. ‘Not far’ was in all actuality not far – less than a mile. But in our condition, it might have been a marathon. And have I mentioned that I had been wearing sandals all day? We finally made it. We decided that no matter what, this is where we would eat. The tables were around the fancy pool and we enjoyed sitting there in such a fun atmosphere, trying our best not to nod off.
We enjoyed some live music – helped keep us awake.
Once we were refueled, we decided to go the other suggested fancy hotel to check it out. We acted like we knew what we were doing and got a shuttle that took us from one hotel to the other. Fancy it was.
Check out that view! Those are the Falls in the background.
And with such beauty all around, who could stay tired?
We thought it wise to get a taxi back to our hotel (me being in sandals and all). What a day it was. One that will be remembered forever. And when I look at these pictures, I can only think of the splendor of God, and how much He must love us to have created such beauty.
The next day we walked around in Livingstone some – bought a few souvenirs in the market, and ate at a local restaurant. For being home of one of the natural wonders of the world, Livingstone is quite a sleepy little town. I didn’t even take pictures – I guess because nothing was really remarkable. Well, except for the Falls that is.
Here’s our hotel room.
And for some reason we decided Tobi needed a haircut before our next trip to Durban, South Africa. Both the haircut and the sunburn were free.