Sunday, 3 March 2013

Mosi-oa-Tunya and the start of the next adventure

10th - 14th September - Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke that Thunders)

After spending on day and night in Bulawayo we leave early this morning for Victoria Falls which is located on the Zambezi river between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe! It is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is claimed to be the largest. This claim is based on a width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft)[3] and height of 108 metres (354 ft), forming the largest sheet of falling water in the world. Arriving in the town we can see the mist rising from the falls. We arrive at Shoestrings backpackers and get settled in.
We are shown all the activites on offer for the next 4 days and although every activity sounds amazing, we decide on 3 main activites to do.
Day 1 in the Falls - we are up early, as we are going to be doing a full day’s worth of white water rafting, some of the rapids being graded 5, the highest commercially to raft on. We arrive at the top of the gorge and look at the water below before our safety breifing. Once we had geared up with helmets and life jackets we are set to make our way down to the gorge where our rafts are waiting. Some of the way down was via step stairs and unlukcy for one person who managed to loose their grip of their oar half way down and had to go back to the top of the gorge to get another oar. Once we were all put in our rafts we paddled around with our raft guide who gave us basic intrustions and what we needed to do. Our guide was called Hippo! He has been rafting the great Zambezi river for the last 20 years.We decended on our first rapid and although looking quite big we got through the rapid without loosing anyone from the raft. Thinking the first rapid was big, we soon realised it was nothing compared to the grade 4 rapid at No 3! Holy moly. We all held on for dear life when Hippo told us to stop paddling and get down low. As soon as we came through the rapid, two of our team had fallen into the river. Luckily they were still holding on to the rope on the outside of the raft. We helped them back in. Dave had told one of the Ozzie girls before rafting that there were crocodiles on the river and you need to be careful. She thought he was bluffing with her as Dave and I had bluffed with alot of the people on the truck with us. Sure enough we were on a stretch of calmer river when we saw the massive croc sitting on the side bank. The Ozzie girl’s eyes were wide as ever. Dave and I just laughed. After a long day of rafting the Zambezi I asked Hippo our guide if there is any discount offered for anyone wanting to do another full day rafting. He said of course. We left our rafts and started our climb back up the gorge in the peak heat of the day which was between 35 degrees to 40 degrees! One of the Italian girls had to be carried up the gorge by one of the guide as she was so exhausted and dehydrated. By the time I got to the top I was completely finished. Hippo was waiting at the top for me and asked when I wanted to book another raft. All I said to Hippo was unless I am going to be airlifted out of the gorge at the end there is no way that I would do it again! He just laughed at me. We had a lovely lunch at the top of the gorge and discussed how we enjoyed the day. A guy on our raft was nicknamed ”teaspoon” as he was not paddling properly and may as well have had a teaspoon instead of an oar! One boat flipped at a rapid and everyone including the guide were thrown out the raft. Overall rafting the mighty Zambezi was a great experience with totally awesome people! I would love to do it again!
Day 2 - we crossed the Zimbabwe border into Zambia to meet Dave’s aunt and uncle that have a lodge on the Zambian side of the Zambezi river. We had lunch and they showed us around Livingstone!. We managed to check out Victoria Falls from the Zambian side, which was a first for me but not for Dave. We argued which side had a better view of the falls. As Dave had not been to view the falls from the Zimbabwe side, which is hands down the better side to view the falls, we decided that until he had seen the falls from the Zim side that no one had won the arguement.
Day 3 - today we are going to the devils pool for a swim at the top of the falls and will be held over the edge of the falls! Scary stuff and quite nervous about it all. After the devils pool swim we will be taking a microlight flight over the falls in the afternoon. I am not feeling that great and had been up all night with major diarrhea. So due to the lack of toilet facilties on route from the Zimbabwe side to the Zambia side on foot I didn’t find it would be appropriate ”mooning” the locals in the state I was in. I could barely go 30 mins without running for the toilet. So I took it upon myself to take an immodium tablet to block up everything knowing full well it I would end up vomitting instead. To me this would not be as degrading and humiliating than with diarrhea. And that is exactly what happened. We arrived at the hotel where we will be picked up for our devil’s pool swim and found that another girl from our truck already there had the same illness as me. She had said another 4 girls back at the backpackers had all come down with the same thing during the night. Strange that it was all the girls that had gone rafting were ill, none of the boys that went rafting were sick at all.
We were eventually picked up for our Devil’s pool swim. Devil’s Pool is a naturally formed pool near the edge of the falls. When the river flow is at a certain level, usually during the months of September to December, a rock barrier forms a pool with little current. Once we had swam across a part of the river at the top of the falls, bearing in mind it was not a strong current and the water levels were low, we climbed onto a rock where Devil’s pool awaited us. I was a little scared, and all that kept going through my mind was what if I fall over the edge, then what! My fears eventually disappeared as it was now my turn to jump into the pool. It was exactly how Dave had described like a small jacuzzi that had been naturally formed. There was a rock ledge that we could sit on and then one of the guides who was walking along the rock ledge behind us was helping us onto our tummies, holding onto our legs and pushing us gently till our head and shoulders were over the falls and you could look down to see all the water rushing past you. I did not want to look down, but instead I looked at the rainbow that had formed from all the spray rising. After photos had been taken we crossed back through the river and had a lovely eggs benedict breakfast on Livingstone Island on the top of the Zambezi. By that time the adrenalin was still pumping and I had quite a healthy appetite. That is until there was no more adrenaline and I started to feel ill. After waiting 4 hours lounging by the pool side at a luxury 5 star hotel, I was no where near feeling any better. Nothing I ate or drank stayed in my system for longer than 30 mins. I was dehydrated and exhausted. Dave and I postponed the microlight flight till the next day hoping I would be better by then. I managed to drink some rehydration sachets during the rest of the day and night which suprisingly I managed to keep in my system. By morning I was feeling heaps better and looking forward to the microlight flight.
Today was the day we were saying goodbye to everyone on the truck continuing their trip through Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Quite a few tears shed as we had spent the last 37 days with truly amazing people! There are 6 of us leaving the group in Vic Falls. Once the goodbyes had been said and waved the rest of the truck off on their next adventure we went to viw the falls from the Zim side. Lets just say Dave lost the agrument and agreed with me that the falls were far better to view from the Zim side. We had a great time in the rain forest cooling off with the spray from the falls. Afterwards we crossed the border back into Zambia for our mircolight flight. We managed to both get in the air at the same time. The flight was spectacular as we flew over the falls. The pilot interacted with us both showing us game below. Dave and I flew side by side at one point waving at each other. When it came down to landing, we ended up flying in a circle as a massive herd of elephants were on the runway. We counted at least 20 on the runway and there were more in the bush too! Biggest herd of elephants I had ever seen before.
After our flight we headed back to the backpackers where we had some dinner and realised that our trip was over. Tomorrow we are flying to Johannesburg, where we are suprising Ryan, the Groom-to-be for his bachelor party on the 15th in Cape Town. He has no idea we are arriving and his lovely fiancee Brigitte is in on the surprise. Although sad that our African overland adventure hs come to an end, we experienced some amazing things, witnessed some spectacular sights and met awesome people along the way. We are looking forward to a nice comfy bed, no more dish flapping to dry the dishes, hot showers and a great 6 weeks in Cape Town with Dave, his family and all his mates. And lets not forget Ryan and Brigitte’s wedding in Hogsback. Africa has never failed to amaze both Dave and I and we are both proud to call ourselves African! We will miss the African bush when we move to Australia on 22nd October!
To everyone that made our trip a truly memorable one - Barbs, Bridget, Julia,Jill,Ryan,Mark,Erin,Mike, Rhiannon,Jess,Kanyo, Temba, Priscilla,Liam, Ben,Hannah,Debbie, Danielle, Ivana, Darjana, Ozzie Matt, Alida,Tegan, the kiwi boys - Matt, Tom, Callum, Ariel and Lara.
Hakuna Matata!

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