Up early again to catch the ferry across the Zambesi River to Zambia. We were entertained before breakfast by some vervet monkeys playing outside our room. Later we learnt they caused havoc in the open restaurant – stealing jams etc from the breakfast tables - until a fellow with a slingshot got to work anyway. First stop on the way to the ferry was a giant baobab tree. These trees actually belong to the succulent family. This one was about 700-1,000 years old. Quickly passed through Botswana immigration then headed for the ferry. There were massive queues of vehicles, mainly trucks. Only one ferry was working – ridiculous considering the amount of traffic. We were shunted forward to the front of the queue – foreigners get preferential treatment. A group of fellows loaded chcases of wine onto the ferry – it takes pedestrian traffic as well as vehicles. As soon as the ferry left, a group of mokorros (canoes) arrived on the scene and men worked feverishly to then load the wine into the mokorros - quite risky in the choppy water. A Zambian lady told me they were trying to avoid paying customs duty but at a great risk which showed how desperate they were to earn money. The river is dangerous because of hippo and the Zambian police could also catch them. They land their mokorros down the river from the ferry to evade police. The immigration area in Zambia was chaotic – people and vehicles everywhere. Some trucks have to wait a week before they can cross. One near us had his washing hanging on the windscreen wipers – obviously in for the long haul! People come from Botswana with bales of goods to sell in the black market in Livingstone – cooking oil, petrol, clothing and shoes – whatever. Our wait was nearly one and a half hours before we were through. On the outskirts of Livingstone is the cemetery. It is full with rows and rows of new graves – all victims of AIDS, a huge problem here, with funerals every day. In the town are several billboards exhorting people to get checked and to take precautions.
Visited the Victoria Falls in the afternoon – massive amount of water, and noise! No wonder the locals call it Smoke that Thunders! - can see the plume rising into the sky from some distance away. Unexpectedly we added another country to our itinerary when we walked across the bridge over the Zambesi to stand on Zimbabwe soil! People were bungy jumping from the centre of the bridge – crazy! The Zambia side of the falls faces mainly the Eastern Cataract. The afternoon sun obscured a lot of the view of the Zimbabwe end. Lots of rainbows created by the spray and we got a bit wet! Walked down to the Boiling Pot, the eddy away from the bottom of the falls where the bodies wash up. Was a tough climb down a steep rock path (spotted some rock dassies) but worth the effort. When the sun had set, checked out the market stalls for souvenirs.
July 30 Saturday
Living it up in Livingstone
The Top Gun crew took off on a 15 minute helicopter flight over “mosi-o-tunya” – the Victoria Falls. It is amazing to see from the air – can’t grasp the whole scale of it from the ground. I sat next to the pilot and Bernie behind with 2 others from our group. Was fantastic.
After lunch things slowed down a bit and we visited the museum – quite good displays. Of particular interest is the section dedicated to David Livingstone, with lots of information about his explorations plus personal possessions. Headed up the main drag to the craft market – the last one for us in Africa but they all stock exactly the same things! Tried a latte at a coffee shop recommended by Misheck – a better result than a previous one which was basically hot milk. Africa hasn’t caught up on coffee culture yet! Currency is a mixed bag in Africa. All through we have been able to use the South African rand and in Zambia they also accept US dollars in shops. So you pay in one, get change in another etc – quite a mix!
Dinner tonight at the hotel then tomorrow morning to the Livingstone airport for our flight to Johannesburg, then on to Australia.
Over and out from AFRICA!