The Victoria Falls: Livingstone, Zambia

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Peggy at the entrance of Victoria Falls

Livingstone, Zambia is a gateway to Africa’s greatest wonders and adventures. The Victoria Falls, locally known as Mosi-oa-Tunya (meaning “the smoke that thunders”), is a world heritage site in the area.  From a great distance, one can see smoke-like mist from the Victoria Falls, blowing up in the air.  The falls are 360 feet long and 5,604 feet wide.  It flows 3,000 cubic meters of water per second during high season (December ~ April) and 300 cubic meters per second during low season (September ~ November).  During high season, more water flows down, making the falls appear like a curtain of running water.  And during low season, people wade in the pools of water across the falls. The water that falls is from the Zambezi River, which extends from the upper gores and falls to the lower gores. Tourist from all over the world come to view its spectacular scenery or play in it.  Excursions at Victoria Falls include abseiling down the walls of the gores, bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge, hiking, kayaking, microlight flying, white water rafting on the lower river, taking helicopter rides between the gores, and plunging into the Devil’s Pool, which is on top of the Victoria Falls.

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Baboon at the lower gores of Victoria Falls

I visited Livingstone with two other friends, Lisa, a classmate friend from Gallaudet University, and Sarath from Sri Lanka.  We hiked the upper and lower gores to view the Victoria Falls from different angles.  On one hike down to the lower gores, I encountered a tug of war with a male baboon.  He grabbed my bag and tried to pull it away from my shoulder.  I slowly took it off while still holding my bag and had been thinking what all I might have lost if he had took off with it.  Lisa scrambled to find a stick, but instead found a twig and hit it.  The baboon let go of my bag and ran away.  Thanks to Lisa who saved my bag with a twig.  I’m glad that I did not lose my passport, wallet containing a few hundred Kawacha (Zambia money), glasses and my iPhone.

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Sitting on the pool edge next to the falls

At the Victoria Falls, we also joined a licensed guide for a hike around the Livingstone Island, which is on the upper falls on the Zambezi River.  There, we jumped into the Devil’s Pool, which is right on top of the Victoria Falls.  Adrenaline shot through my head after the plunge.  I could feel the gravity of the waterfall, pulling me towards the edge of the gore, and I could see, with my own eyes, the water rushing down the gores from the pool we were in.  I felt I could have gone over the gores, but the water in Devil’s Pool was somehow still.  It was amazing that I didn’t go over with the rushing water.  We got photos of ourselves in the pool.  Afterwards, we swam across the rapids that were heading for the falls over the gores to the shore for our next tour.  We were taken to a fascinating site with a canopy, folding tables and chairs.  The sight was a safari appearance. There we had a Livingstone style breakfast of Eggs Benedict with spinach and hollandaise sauce, scones, jam, fruit juice, tea or coffee set under a canopy viewing parts of the falls.  And on our way back, we stopped by a smaller canopy that was under a tree, facing the water rapids.  Our guide pointed to the sign that said “loo with a view”.  We laughed.  The tour was great.  I felt as if I had followed the footsteps of David Livingstone.

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“Loo With A View” Sign

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Sarath, Lisa, and Peggy on the Sunset Cruise boat

Safari adventures such as game drives, canoe and walking safaris are popular on the upper and lower Zambezi River.  Professional safari guides are ready to introduce you to the river or take you into the jungle.  The jungle is filled with wild animals of Zambia that dwell near the Zambezi River.  The upper falls of the Zambezi River is wider and is the home to animals such as crocodiles, hippopotamus, elephants, giant lizards, zebras, giraffes and antelopes.  They can be spotted roaming around the Mosi-Oa-Tunya Park, on Islands on the Zambezi River, and on the property of luxury hotel resorts.  The lower falls of the Zambezi River is denser and jungle like.  Baboons and other monkeys, interesting floras, reptiles and insects are more often spotted near the lower falls of the Zambezi River.  Fishing on the upper Zambezi River is a common sight.  Sunset cruises with dinners and all you can drink booze also regularly navigate the river.  We joined the Sunset cruise, drank Mosi (Zambian lager beer), and searched for animals through my new binoculars on islands on the Zambezi River.  We encountered a group of hippopotamus and a couple of crocodiles, a lizard and many birds against the backdrop of a lovely sunset. I enjoyed the cruise and would come back for a second time.

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Community Lounge at JollyBoys

Accommodations for travelers vary from luxury resort hotel to hostelling and even camping.  Some really fancy hotels, such as the David Livingstone Safari Lodge and Spa or the Zambezi Sun Hotel, offer guests riverfront rooms or chalets on the riverfront.  We saw some animals walking around the property of the two hotels.  And what are even more exciting are those safari tour types of accommodations where travelers can camp out for three or more days in the jungle under canopies and tents.  These safari tour camps must be booked in advance for campsite preparation. Most other regular or budget accommodations can be found in the town of Livingstone.  We stayed at JollyBoys, a popular international hostel offering various kinds of sleeping units and bungalows. We got a private room with four bunks and a private shower.  JollyBoys hostel had a swimming pool, community kitchen, pool and ping-pong table, and a large lounge with pillows.  A restaurant with a bar is open daily until after midnight.  Many other nice hostels and guesthouses can be found in the Livingstone area.

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Curio Market

Entertainment, eating out, sipping coffee or tea with Wi-Fi, and shopping at the Curio Market for African arts and crafts are available in the town of Livingstone.  Restaurants in Livingstone cater local and international foods.  Night clubs with African dance and performances are scheduled at various lounges at hotels and hostels too.  The Livingstone Museum stands in the middle of the town, and is open to visitors who want to learn about the history of the town and about the Scottish missionary and explorer, David Livingstone.  David Livingstone is believed to have been the first European to view the falls in 1855.  He discovered the falls from what is now known as the Livingstone Island and the area where the Devil’s Pool is located.

On Sunday before walking out of JollyBoys, I saw Ernest Hemingway’s quote on the archway, “There’s never been a morning in Africa where I woke up not happy.”  I’ve found his message to parallel my experience in Livingstone, Zambia.

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