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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Africa Blog 6 - Welcome To Zambia, Here Are Our Hippos And Giant Waterfall


The following is a 2-week long blogging event, where I recount the events of my trip to South Africa and Zambia, while still on the trip.  Movie stuff will return soon, but for now enjoy what I have to say about Africa:

The end of this adventure is quickly approaching, as the trip to Zambia means there are only a couple days remaining in this trip to Africa.  Fortunately, that does not mean the fun and excitement has to stop in any way, as entering a new country only led to more unique experiences.  The time of game drives has ended at this point (despite the presence of various exotic wildlife), but a full day at Victoria Falls was definitely a great way to fill in what kind of wild activity we could be living through next.  Add to that the new danger - hippos, and the Zambezi River seemed to have plenty of excitement waiting for us. (Check out the previous Africa Blog posts HERE).

Following a relatively short plane ride from South Africa to Zambia, compared to the upcoming trip back to America, which will be quite the time suck, my dad and I eventually reached our new residence for the weekend (our trip to Zambia would last from the 29th of November to the 1st of December, for those keeping track).  I should note that upon arrival in Zambia, we had to go through customs of course, which ended up costing us $50 each, along with the prise of a visa, in order to actually enter the country.  It was a long process and somewhat unexpected, but mattered little, once we reached Tongabezi Lodge, where we would be staying.



I rather enjoyed the setting of Tangabezi, which was located right along the Zambezi River.  Our living quarters were these interesting hut-like rooms, with a great view of the river outside of every window, along with a nice deck.  Given that this would be the last place I would be living at for a few days, it was certainly not bad living at all at Tangabezi.  After settling in, the time came to embark upon our first big activity in Zambia, a sunset boat ride along the river...or at least that was the plan.

This happened once before, back at Camp Jabulani - thunder and lightening.  Apparently my dad and I brought a thunder storm with us to Zambia, as it was the first and strongest in a while.  This obviously meant the boat trip would be canceled, but that did not stop us from sitting in one of the main lodges and watching the constant lightening strikes and listening to the sound of rolling thunder for a good hour.  It may not have been the preferred activity, given the small amount of time we would have in Zambia and the many different activity choices available, but it had been a long day of travel anyway and this was not much of a setback, given the full day we would have on Saturday.

 
I have to stop for a second to mention the hippos.  While I will get to the hippos we did get to see in the Zambezi River at another time, I will say that the employees at Tongabezi made it quite clear that hippos are a big thing to watch out for at night, as they come up to the lodge area and eat the grass.  Given that hippos are one of the biggest killers of humans in Africa, it certainly felt like a big deal, especially when compared to the main subjects of my first Africa Blog - sharks and baboons.  Right now you may be thinking, "Oh boy, I wonder what kind of crazy encounter with hippos Aaron or his father may have had," but sadly that will not get you anywhere, as we did not end up seeing any hippos outside of the water.  Still, when you are at a point in your life when the presence of hippos is something that you need to concern yourself with, as a matter of safety, it is most definitely worth mentioning in some capacity.

Moving on, Saturday would be our big day in Zambia, as it would involve a visit to Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.  Larger than Niagara Falls (almost double the size), this would prove to be a very impressive sight to behold and easily one of my favorite activities of the whole trip.  After a morning drive to the falls that was not very far away from where we were staying, our driver/guide Godfrey was happy to lead us on a hike around Victoria Falls and provide us with some history about the area, including information about Dr. Livingston and some basic geography facts.  We started out walking along the dry portions of the Eastern Cataracts, giving us a chance to get close to the edge of the waterfall and get a great view, only to make our way to the other side of a gorge, where we would get even more great views of this enormous waterfall.  I should also note that baboons were everywhere, around Victoria Falls.  They really are like the squirrels of Africa, just a lot more temperamental, were you to bother them in some way.




Once on the other side of a gorge, we were also able to check out the Victoria Falls Bridge, which connects Zambia to Zimbabwe.  The middle of this rather large bridge is known for being the spot where many people go bungee jumping a good 110 meters down.  Sounds like fun for a lot of people, but I was not one of them.  Along with bungee jumping, the other activities around Victoria Falls included helicopter rides, river rafting at the bottom, and visiting Livingston Island, located near the main section of the falls.  The great thing about Livingston Island, is that you not only get great views of the falls, but you also get to swim right at the top of them, which is what we did next.

After hiking around Victoria Falls from a distance, getting great sights of various parts of this enormous waterfall, we then made our way to another spot, where we would then take a small boat over to Livingston Island.  Once arriving on the island, we would walk to the edge of the falls, where we could get even more cool pictures of our surroundings.  During this portion of the journey, our guide, Alpha Omega (seriously!), was happy to take pictures, but also very cautious of our activities on the island; especially me, as I seemed to keep venturing a little bit too far for comfort, when it came to concerns of safety.  Basically, Alpha Omega seemed much less confident than I was, in terms of how close to the edge I could get.






Following a look around the falls, it was finally time to get into the water and swim over to Devil's Pool.  This was pretty great.  We entered the water, which was very warm and made our way over to a section of the falls, where it is basically a pool that is right on the edge of Victoria Falls.  Once in the Devil's Pool, as it is referred to as, we would all take pictures together and strike some pretty fantastic poses.


 
And this is where the penultimate Africa Blog post must be left with a bit of a cliffhanger as it is in this location where my camera decided to break.  Some kind of issue prevented my camera from functioning properly, but thanks to one of the couples with us, we were able to get some great pics of what went on at Devil's Pool.  That said, this unfortunate occurrence is enough to leave me with a way to end this blog post here and leave room for one final post, complete with an exciting opening to reveal how crazy I had to be to do the things I did at Devil's Pool.  I will leave it there, but I will say one thing:  it fortunately did not involve dodging hippo attacks.

Next Time:  What's going on in this picture below and a farewell to Africa




Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.

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