Africa/Middle East 2014:
Day 7 - Livingstone, Zambia


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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]

Friday, November 21, 2014: Our taxi driver, Joseph, picked us up at 6:45 AM to head off for our next adventure.
We had a 7:15 AM tour of Livingstone Island that departed from the Royal Livingstone Hotel. Immediately upon entering the grounds, we saw a pair of giraffes grazing on the trees. Our initial excitement faded a bit upon realizing that they are essentially hotel pets.
We walked through the luxurious grounds ...
... to the expansive deck overlooking the Zambezi River. The spray in the distance indicates where Victoria Falls is located. Our destination this morning was the green island just to the left of the spray.
We boarded the boat with three other passengers.
By now, we were getting quite good at spotting hippos in rivers. Here are two of them.
It was a short, pleasant boat ride to the island.
Pretty!
We disembarked on Livingstone Island ...
... and were welcomed with a traditional Maheu drink, which tastes like a thin version of Cream of Wheat.
We followed our guide ...
... to the edge of the Falls and got a beautiful view. That's Zimbabwe on the right (the park where we had been two days earlier) and Zambia on the left and in the distance.
Next to this lookout point is a plaque for David Livingstone, the European explorer for whom the island is named.
Next, we walked closer to the falls. We were right on the edge of the cliff and we couldn't believe how close we were to the water. Our guide took photos of each of us while we marveled at how amazing it all was.
He also took this beautiful photo while he was at it. After everyone was photographed, we got ready to get in the water. Our other guide helped us swim against the current, then get carried back down by the current to a small, rocky island. Then he guided us down some rocks into ...
... famous Devil's Pool. Your eyes do not deceive you -- we truly were in the river right on the edge of the falls.
Devil's Pool has a ledge that is about two feet wide. In the dry season between September and December, the water is low enough that it still flows over the edge, but there isn't a danger of being carried over. It's still a little terrifying.
This photo gives a better idea of how thick the rocky ledge is. While we were in the water, tiny fish nibbled on our legs so we kept moving them to avoid being bitten. The fish were tiny but their bite was a little more painful than your basic fish-based pedicure. We stayed in the water while the other guests got their photos taken, then we climbed out, swam back, and got dressed.
Next, it was time for a fancy English breakfast.
It consisted of hot tea, scones and muffins, and an absolutely delicious plate of Eggs Benedict.
After breakfast, we headed back to the boat ...
... and passed more fireballs (scadoxus multiflorus).
We didn't have time to use it, but we did get a photo of the "Loo with a View." Sure enough, it faces the river and the falls, so it must be a lovely place to spend some private time.
Our boat was waiting for us and we enjoyed another five minute cruise on the river, this time going upstream. Check out this handsome guy.
When we returned to the Royal Livingstone, the next tour group was waiting and there were probably 10 - 12 people in the group. We felt really fortunate to have booked the first tour of the day so we had plenty of time to enjoy Devil's Pool by ourselves.
We were thrilled to see this herd of zebras enjoying the lawn at the Royal Livingstone, but like the giraffes, they live on the property. We got to see plenty of wild ones the very next day in Tanzania.
Taxi driver Joseph was waiting for us outside the hotel and drove us back to Green Tree Lodge through town again. We got pretty familiar with this particular stretch of downtown. Flags were at half mast throughout town due to the death of Zambia's president three weeks earlier but we didn't get a photo of any.
We had enough time to get showered and packed before saying goodbye to Green Tree Lodge. Andrew drove us back to the airport.
We had several hours to kill at the airport and we very much enjoyed the air conditioning and free wi-fi. We bought some meat pies and Coca-Cola Lights for lunch even though we knew we'd get fed on all three flights we'd be on later in the day.
We were originally surprised to see a box of free condoms in the restrooms but saw this more than once on our trip. On a related note, we are pleased to report that every bathroom we encountered in Africa scored at least six points on the Bundlings Restroom Scale, which was a very pleasant surprise indeed.
Our next two flights were on Kenya Airways.
This was the only photo we got of Orchy in Zambia. We were idiots for not bringing him with us to Devil's Pool. Idiots.
Why do we have a photo of Tom's watch? Because we were starting to taxi at 2:56 PM even though the flight wasn't scheduled to leave until 3:20 PM. Since this was the travel day with the tightest connections, we were delighted to be leaving early.
So check this out: USB connections in every seat! This was the first time we'd see this and were very happy to have unlimited power for our phones. We had brought an excellent portable battery that was good for almost four full phone charges, but it was nice to not have to rely on that. Yes, this will be commonplace soon on all flights, but for now, it was a novelty that we enjoyed on the next two flights.
Our airplane did a nice circle over the area after take off. Here is the Zambezi River with Livingstone Island in the middle of it just before it drops into the abyss.
Here is a closeup of the edge of the falls, with the Zimbabwe border post visible on the road, and Victoria Falls National Park covering all the area between the road and the gorge.
Finally, here is Victoria Falls in all her glory. In a 180 degree turn from the previous photo, Zimbabwe is now at the bottom of the photo, Zambia on top, and Livingstone Island to the far right.
Our first stop was Harare, Zimbabwe, where we didn't get off the plane. After swapping out some passengers and spraying the cabin with sanitizer, we departed early once again.
We landed in Nairobi, Kenya a little early, which boded well for us and our luggage making a very tight, very important connection. However, our last flight was delayed by several hours so we needn't have worried. It was the only delayed flight of the trip and it didn't harm our plans in any way.
Shortly before midnight, we boarded our Precision Air flight to ...
... Kilimanjaro International Airport in Arusha, Tanzania. We filled out our Ebola health questionnaires as we had in the previous countries we had visited, then we purchased our visas and found our hotel shuttle driver.
We were staying at KIA Lodge (named for the airport's initials), just five minutes away from the airport. Each room is a standalone chalet. Fresh flowers decorated the room and the bed linens on our arrival.
The closet had plenty of room to lay out two large suitcases, which we appreciated.

The bathroom occasionally featured a tiny lizard.

Day 8 >


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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