Living life on the edge at the falls

Trip Start Aug 31, 2005
Trip End Aug 25, 2006

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Flag of Zambia  ,
Monday, January 9, 2006

We had a brief stopover in Lusaka - a HUGE bustling modern metropolis (and I had never even heard of it until a few weeks ago....) We stayed with Natalie and got the rundown on her HIV/AIDS projects. Nat is here with VSO working with a drama group and she showed us some of the questionnaires the group have been carrying out - even after so much publicity and social education, the sad fact is that vast population of Africa still have a lot of confusion about HIV/AIDS, and that some have still never even heard of it! The reality was truly shocking and reading the questionnaires sobered us all.

Early the next morning, we girls went in search of the shops. Nat showed us the local market where we bought more material, and then the tailors, where we all put in our orders. We came back after 2 hours to...disaster. Nothing fitted, and some of the work was terrible to say the least. Poor wee Kirsty's clothes fitted her like a maternity smock. With trembling hands the tailors set about rectifiying their mistakes until we were (nearly) happy.

Way behind schedule, we set off, Victoria Falls in our sights. 6 hours later, after dodging suicidal cyclists and crazy storms, we arrived in at Livingstone, adventure sport capital of the world. Jollyboys Backpackers was a pleasant surprise - perhaps the best big backpackers we have stayed in through Africa. The place is run by two Aussies (?or perhaps English) chicks and is clean, friendly, has plenty of toilet paper and a pool, and is reasonably priced. Just goes to show what two women can do! (Needless to say, it got both Kirsty and I thinking!). The next day we lounged about, writing our diaries, reading trashy novels and eating for Africa. The next day was also... surprisingly more of the same. As was the next!

We finally got off our bums and out of the backpackers to explore the streets of Livingtone. Not too much to see but plenty of cool restaurants to hang out in. We also got the low down on all the adventure activities around and decided to check out 'HIGH TEA AT LIVINGSTONE ISLAND'. We thought it sounded nice and posh and just what we needed!

At 2pm we hitched down to the 5-star Royal Livingstone Hotel on the edge of the falls. We hung out at the hotel for an hour and managed to convince the staff to let us use their pool - they were most accomodating!

At the appointed hour of 3.30 we went down to the river edge to await our pick-up by boat. After being forgotton (! are we that unforgetable?!) and having to call them to ask them to come back for us, we finally made it to the island 45 minutes after everyone else. It was a blessing in disguise as we now had the pool to ourselves. Our guides, Felix the cat and the Crab helped us pick our way over the slippery rocks, swam with us through the currant wanting to drag us over the edge of the falls, to the small rock pool perched right on the edge of the falls. We were well and truly on top of the world.

The current was strong but we held on with all our might to stop us tipping over the side. No-one has unintentionally gone over the edge, we were told time and time again. If they haven't, its only through pure luck! We were living life on the edge and it felt exhilerating and wonderful. I asked to have a look over the side and I crept out over the ledge as the guides held onto my legs.

It was very reluctantly that we got out of the pool to have our Pimms and high tea. The food and drink were fantastic and we were on a high. Another great African highlight - thanks mum and dad for the Christmas present!

A couple of days later I was sick of sitting around and doing not much, so booked myself in for a 15 min microlight flight over the falls - another part to my self-diagnosed Christmas present from mum and dad! We went down to the airfield bright and early on a rather miserable day (it is the middle of rainy season), slung myself into the rather unattractive Michelin-man outfit required for the flight, and then minutes later was set flying into space with my German pilot. We headed to the falls, rounded them several times in search of that ever-elusive great shot, then headed back down the river, spotting crocs and baby hippos from the air, before heading back to base. It was a completely exhilerating experience and one never to be forgotton!
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