Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and environs (Zambia)

June 18, 19, and 20, 2001

Cultural Shock!

It's an American Thing. It generally means some poor American citizen (a North American as in U.S.) finds themselves in a location that does not have a Safeway, K-Mart, Starbucks, does not accept a credit card, does not have cable TV/Internet or flushing toilets and they don't know how to wipe their butts without.......?

Victoria Falls was reversed cultural shock for this "americano!" In less time than it takes to drive from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles we suddenly found ourselves in a Disneyland, Estes Park, Busch Gardens twilight zone. Shops, hustlers, hawkers and the like; and we were still in the buses. We walked off our buses and received the keys to our rooms at The Kingdom.

It was a very nice top-notch destination. Except my mind-set was still flowing with the Chobe River and the Okavango Delta. As I once remember, when in Germany do as the germanians, when in Rome, do as the romanians. So. That's what we did.

We were to be in Victoria Falls for two days. Remember, this place is famous for, "Dr. Livingstone I presume?"

Doesn't ring a bell? Okay, on with the show.

Victoria Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world. That means it's an incredible sight and people journey many miles to see it. Almost like a religious pilgrimage. So, here we are after a short bus ride from Botswana where we just saw a lioness having breakfast on a young buffalo calf and this place looks like a strip mall!

From the railroad bridge crossing the gorge. Cecil Rhode's dream of a railroad from Cairo to Cape Town would have been spectacular!

What's in a Name?

Dr. David Livingstone was not the first white person to see the falls. But he was probably the first white person of fame to describe to the western world. So it was on November 16, 1855, that Dr. Livingstone name the fall Victoria Falls in honor of his queen. However, the falls has and does go by many names.

First known as Shonbwe by the Tokaleya people it was eventually known as Amanza Thunquayo, or Water Rising as Smoke by the Ndebele. Later invaders to the area, the Maklolo referred to it as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or Smoke that Thunders. That's the name is used today, including the wildlife refuge on the Zambian side of the Zambezi River.

The Zambezi River from the Zambian side. That's a long drop. Now you see why they talk of the smoking mist.

There are many ways to see and experience the falls. Some ride the train over the gorge, others take a helicopter, hot-air balloon or ultra-light to see the falls. And, there are some who see it upside down as they plunge to the river below attached to a bungee cord. Whichever way suits you it is a magnificent creation of nature paling Niagra Falls and in there for the running with Angel Falls in Venezuela.

Eagles scoping out the tourist in the hot air balloon. The Safari Express resting on the gorge.

So, what's there to do at Victoria Falls besides the usual "gringo" tourist stuff you can do in Acapulco, Cancun or Cannes?

The Walking Safari

Well, Wilbur (ala Mr. Ed). How about a Safari? That means you walk, not ride through the bush. So it was we took a walking safari through part of the Zimbabwe National Park. And what a trip it was.

The rules? No more than five persons per party.

Walk single file.

If the guide tells you to jump to the left you jump left. If he tells you to stand still you stand still! Get the picture? Oh, before I foget, he's also carrying a .450 magnum rifle to help you survive the walk.

Our afternoon walk through the Zimbabwe National Park at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe was not a typical afternoon "stroll," and we're glad it wasn't. This experience changed our entire perception of Africa and what Africa is to all of us!

The Walk - Take a look.

After the Safari Walk what was there to do? Well, shopping, bungee jumping, steam train ride and a safari to Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park on the Zambian side of the falls.

The train ride was different. The Safari Express. Having traveled through Copper Canyon in Mexico and the Durango-Silverton route in Colorado I like to try different train trips. This one was great too.

We boarded the train early in the morning. A steam locomotive complete with the "choo-choo-choo."

Our first stop was Livingstone, Zambia, on the Zambian side of the border. Our crossing across the gorge was spectacular. Can you image crossing this gorge everyday to go shopping? Some people do it every day.

Our short trip took us through Livingstone to the edge of Mosi-oa-Tunya Zoological Park and then back to Victoria Falls. It gave us a chance to see the countryside and wave at the locals. The kids like to race along the tracks as the train goes by and someone is always waving back.

Of course your intrepid travelers liked the fresh-air ventilation system in the cars.

We had one last morning in Victoria Falls to do whatever. Yup, you guessed it! Another game drive. It was an early wake up call to get over to the Zambian side and get a close hand look at Mosi-oa-Tunya Park. The last five remaining White Rhinos in Zambia live here. We were hoping we would see them, one or all five.

Crossing the border, again, was becoming a habit. Of course, once we got to park's entrance we realized we had not left that wild Africa after all.

Join us as we take our last game drive of the trip to Mosi-oa-Tunya Park. You'll be glad you did.

Leaving Victoria Falls

Well, the time had come to say adieu to Victoria Falls and make tracks for Karibe, our eclipse observing site. However, the most direct route would be to drive through the southern portion of Zambia and re-enter Zimbabwe at one of its northwestern ports of entry.

We leave The Kingdom. Off on another adventure. It's 07:15 hours.

Ah, the wide open spaces of Zambia.Nice flat straight roads. Ladies on the left, gentlemen on the right. Keep an eye out for critters!

I begin to keep a log of the towns along the way. We leave Livingstonee at 10:00, Kalomo at 11:30, Choma at 13:00, Mazabuke at 15:00. At this rate this 293 mile trip is going to take us all day. And it does.

By 17:00 the magenta and crimson hues of sunset are beginning to paint the countryside. We're tired, we're thirsty and we want to get off the bus, but we can't. So, enjoy the ride. After all, this is an eclipse expedition. Expeditions are suppose to be uncomfortable

Sunset approaches as we slowly make our way back to Zimbabwe. We finally crossed back into Zimbabwe after 7:00 pm that evening. Our lodgings for the night were houseboats on Lake Karibe. But that's a story for another time.

Back to home.

© 2001 Anthony Galván III

Any use without written permission is prohibited.

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© 2006 Anthony Galván III

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