Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Crossing ze Zambezi

A new week, and a new country. Today we set out to travel to Livingston, Zambia, and twin home to the Victoria Falls, together with the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. We've heard that once you cross the Zambezi you are really in Africa, and today is that day.
Shortly after 9am we are waiting hopefully on the road outside the campsite for a ride - sure enough yet another government vehicle does the trick, with Richard who seems to buy and sell vehicles in the region for the various government departments and agencies. He has a jacket on with BGP on it - just like the one the camp cleaner was wearing this morning. I thought it must stand for Botswana Game Parks, but no, Richard proudly tells me it means Botswana Government Property. There you go!

Richard turns out to be a good bloke, and able to swing things with emigration and customs to drive us virtually onto the Kazungula car ferry, saving us about a 700m walk so all good. We dash on as it's about to go, with its load of one semi-trailer, a few local pedestrians (who travel for free), and ourselves. A rather dodgy looking character corners us on the short crossing, teeing us up for money changing and also a taxi. We change a small amount of Pula (getting a mere 55,000 Zambian kwacha - these zeroes will prove a challenge to me I know), enough for the taxi fare to Livingston, and soon are squished into yet another nameless Japanese import with far too many other people, for the couple of hour drive to town. The border area is absolutely littered with insurance sellers, semi-trailers and their drivers, who must have to wait days at times, and the usual array of air-time sellers, produce stalls and trinkets. It's much more like it than the Botswana border we arrived at.

The next day we head to Vic Falls, one of Africa's great sights. We are here a few months after the really heavy rains (which fell Jan/Feb), but the Zambezi is higher than it's been for 20 years, so the views are a bit compromised by all the spray. However, we have the best day wandering around the various paths, getting drenched, drying off, and then doing a short hike down a gully to view the Falls from river level, and walking round close to the Zim border.

“Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”, apparently said Dr Livingstone. The Falls are known as Mosi Oa Tunya in the local language, which translates as smoke that thunders.

Probably the best view we have though is early the following morning, from a microlight. I'd never been on one before, and it was a fantastic experience. Great to see the Falls from above, to appreciate the geology of the region and how the river is slowly changing the face of the Falls, and also to see elephants and hippos on the small islands in the middle of the Zambezi.

Max preparing for his microlight flight.
We have noticed in Zambia a more visible Indian population than we've seen since Cape Town, and also more Moslem influence - not sure what Dr Livingstone would think of this!

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