Africa/Middle East 2014:
Day 5 - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe


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Africa/Middle East 2014: [Day 1 - Virginia] [Day 2 - Senegal] [Day 3 - South Africa] [Day 4 - South Africa] [Day 5 - Zimbabwe] [Day 6 - Botswana] [Day 7 - Zambia] [Day 8 - Tanzania] [Day 9 - Qatar] [Day 10 - Abu Dhabi] [Day 11 - Dubai] [Day 12 - Oman] [Day 13 - Bahrain] [Day 14 - Jordan] [Day 15 - Jordan] [Day 16 - England]

Wednesday, November 19, 2014: Our driver picked us up at 4:30 AM and took us to Cape Town International Airport where we checked in for our South African Airways flights.
Dawn was breaking by the time we made it through security.
We opted for breakfast at Wimpy and enjoyed some tableside service ...
... and this very reasonably-priced and tasty breakfast.
We connected in Johannesburg again and flew into Livingstone, Zambia, where we got a quick look at the Zambezi River that leads to Victoria Falls, hidden just below the engine in this photo.
We landed at Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport and were met by Andrew, the owner of ...
... Green Tree Lodge, our home for the next two nights.
We had Chalet #1: the Guineafowl Chalet.
Our chalet was spacious, ...
... with an air conditioning unit, windows that opened, and a refrigerator.
Here's the bathroom.
Andrew arranged for taxi driver Joseph to come pick us up for our afternoon trip to Zimbabwe.
We drove through Livingstone and passed the Livingstone Express, a dinner train.
Joseph dropped us off at the Zambia border station where we went through immigration and then started walking toward the bridge. Taxi drivers are available to drive you to the Zimbabwe border station, a mile away, but we opted to walk so we could see the view from the bridge.
It took us about 8 minutes to get to the bridge.
The view from here was interesting, but since it was the dry season, none of the falls were visible from here.
We did get this cool photo, though. We'd love to say that it was worth being constantly harassed to buy things, go bungie jumping, or take a ride, but it wasn't. It was miserable. These guys didn't take no for an answer and often stopped only when Debbie stopped dead in her tracks and yelled "No more!" Sadly, we had to use this technique many times when the first five responses of "No, thanks" didn't work.
It was another 12 minutes to the Zimbabwe border station where we paid for our visitor visas.
Not too far beyond that was the entrance to Victoria Falls National Park. Orchy was there.
The park is very nice, with wide, comfortable trails.
There are vervet monkeys throughout the park, and we saw lots of babies with their mothers.
Look closely to see the sleepy baby in this picture.
The misery of the trip was instantly neutralized when we made it to our first vantage point, and arguably, the best one. This beautiful photo was taken from the western-most edge of the cataract.
Orchy was there too, of course.
Nearby is this statue of David Livingstone, the first European to see the falls. Naturally, he immediately renamed it from Mosi-oa-Tunya to Victoria Falls.
Here's the water leading to ...
... wait for it ...
... Devil's Cataract.

Here's a panorama for you.

Here's another view of Devils' Cataract further along the path.
And here's a shot of the wider wall of water. It was getting tougher to take photographs here due to the mist.
We could see Livingstone Island across the way, which marks the start of the Zambia side. Everything else we had photographed in the park so far had been Zimbabwe. We visited Livingstone Island two days later and we spotted some people in this photo on the same tour we'd be on.
We headed back to the visitors center through the lush jungle.
These little flowers (scadoxus multiflorus, nicknamed fireballs) were all over the place. We had planted these in our garden at home but they're a tropical flower so they only lasted one season.
We spotted a pair of bushbucks and stopped to silently watch them for a few minutes.
At the visitors center, we stopped at the Rainforest Cafe.
Like the park itself, we had the whole cafe to ourselves and enjoyed some time in the shade with comfortable temperatures, a light breeze, and good wi-fi.
We had been tipped off that the cappuccino was an especially good deal at 3 USD for a cappuccino, a glass of ice water, and a shot of Amarula, a cream liqueur made from the African marula fruit. It was our first taste of Amarula but not our last.
Wanting to save room for dinner at the lodge, we opted for dessert only. Debbie had the panna cotta while ...
... Tom enjoyed the berry cheese cake. Both were washed down with ice cold Coke Zero, which seems to be slightly more available abroad than Coca-Cola Light, which baffles us. It was a very pleasant way to end our visit to the park.
As we were preparing to leave, we encountered this mother warthog and her piglets. Who knew that baby warthogs could be so cute?
Robin's egg blue was a rather unexpected color to see on a monkey but there it is.
Here's another little monkey meticulously eating a nut of some sort.
This map wasn't quite to scale but did a nice job of showing the layout of the falls relative to the road and border posts.
This photo map shows the different view points and areas of the falls. We made it to point 12 before turning back but we did see some people who walked all the way down to point 16 right next to the bridge.
Gecko!
We began our miserable march back to the other side. We considered hiring a taxi to take us but were immediately turned off by the ridiculously high opening offer and overwhelming sense of being hustled, so we decided to walk it again. Of course, we were constantly approached by people, especially when we got near the bungee jumping location in the middle of the bridge.
Here's someone making a beeline for us now.
But we survived and eventually made it back to ...
... the Zambia border post, where this baboon was holding court amongst the younger baboons. At this point, the story turns ugly again as we had no choice but to hire a taxi driver to get back to the lodge. As soon as we were in the taxi and it was moving at high speeds, he attempted to make us pay more after we had already agreed to a price before getting in. Eventually, we ended up paying what we had originally agreed but there was quite a lot of yelling prior to that point. Even though we had been warned that this would happen and took every precaution to avoid it, it still happened.
Fortunately, we made it back to the locked, fenced, fixed-price sanctuary of Green Tree Lodge. It consists of five or six separate chalets surrounding a cute little garden.
In addition to fruit trees all around, we found this little pineapple plant in the garden.
Here's the pool area and the steps leading to the back patio where the restaurant and bar are located.
At dinnertime, we were the only patrons since the restaurant is only available to overnight guests and on our first night, we were the only guests. We started with Coca-Cola Light and glasses of Amarula, normally reserved for an after-dinner drink. Cheers!
The lodge's resident pair of guinea fowl joined us for each meal, curiously coming up the stairs to see what was happening, but always being careful to not come too close.
We watched the sun set in the distance both nights during our dinners.
The wi-fi was very weak, so we took advantage of the signal in the restaurant when we could.
Debbie's entree was beef stroganoff served with rice.

Tom ordered nshima and beef stew. Nshima is the white food on the side and is a traditional Zambian dish made from maize.

Day 6 >


Africa/Middle East 2014: [Day 1 - Virginia] [Day 2 - Senegal] [Day 3 - South Africa] [Day 4 - South Africa] [Day 5 - Zimbabwe] [Day 6 - Botswana] [Day 7 - Zambia] [Day 8 - Tanzania] [Day 9 - Qatar] [Day 10 - Abu Dhabi] [Day 11 - Dubai] [Day 12 - Oman] [Day 13 - Bahrain] [Day 14 - Jordan] [Day 15 - Jordan] [Day 16 - England]

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