Livingstone/ Vic Falls

Trip Start Jul 27, 2008
Trip End Sep 09, 2008

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Flag of Zambia  ,
Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Due to the current political climate in Zimbabwe, our tour changed and we went to Zambia instead.  So from the houseboats we had a 6 hour drive down to Livingstone in Zambia.

When we arrived we were shown a video of all the activities that could be done in Vic Falls.  I went from the sensible 'need to think about how much this is costing' to 'they look amazing!'.  We signed up for the Lion Walk, White Water Rafting down the Zambesi, a booze cruise, and a trip to Livingstone Island.

So, on the first morning we were off to the Lion Walk.  There were 7 of us from our truck doing the walk, and after a briefing we were taken down to meet the cubs.  They call them cubs, but they are 18 months old and are almost waist height!  We were told that they stop walking with them once they reach 18 months as they get too big to be controlled - what an intro!  There was a male and a female, we were allowed to pat the female but not the male.  There were 3 specialist handlers with them who spend most of the day with them.  We were also given sticks so we could play with them.  While they were resting in the shade we had them licking our hands and got to have photos taken.  It is really amazing just how close they will let you get, and just how much they are massive cats!  Their tongue feels just like a normal cat, perhaps just a bit closer to sandpaper.  We walked with them for a bit, and then got an added bonus of being able to go and meet some Cheetahs.  The Cheetahs are just new to the place, so they are not charging additional for them yet.  There were 3 Cheetahs, 2 males who were resting in one part of the shade and an 11month old who was in different shade.  The Cheetahs were really relaxed about us being there, we got to approach them, wait for them to start purring (which apparently means they are comfortable), and then they would start licking your hand too.  They weren't really interested in Bruces hand, but couldn't get enough of mine.  They purred the whole time we were with them, absolutely amazing!

From there, we went and watched a load of crazy people off our truck do the Bungy.  Absolutely crazy!  I wasn't even keen on the bridge which wobbled whenever trucks and trains went past!  The next stop was Vic Falls Park.  We walked along the path on one side, stopping at all the view points and then wandered round to have a look from the other side.  A local guy took us on a trip out through the rivers and rocks leading up to the falls to see a totally different side of the falls.  Very scary, but good fun!

The next day was rafting day!  We have 13 people from our truck going, so made up 2 boats - theoretically one boat that wanted to tip over all the time, and one that didn't (ours!).  After a quick briefing it was time to get on the river, the first rapid was a grade 5 which we had to paddle across.  I'm not even sure we made it to half way before we tipped.  I am pretty sure that is the closest to drowning that I have ever come, or intend on coming!  I finally came up beside the boat, only to find that the boat was upside down and there was nothing to hold onto.  Luckily Bruce grabbed me at that point.  The safety boat picked us up, and managed to convince us all to get back into our raft, which was no easy job!  We managed to do the rest of the rapids without falling in at all, I think we were too scared to go in again!  By the end we were trying to stand in the boat, or swimming through some of the smaller rapids.  It was a hell of  a day, I came out with a number of bruises but having had a laugh.
Day 3 was a quiet day, a chance to go into town, go to the markets and chill out for a bit.  We were doing the booze cruise in the evening which was an all you can drink cruise along the Zambesi.  Most of the truck were there, and it was a really good way to end some people trip.  Not much to say about this, not sure that I remember too much!
And our last day brought the trip to Livingstone Island.  Livingstone Island is an island right at the edge of the falls, named as that is where the falls were first spotted.  We got taken to a very posh hotel to get on the speedboat over.  The highlight of Livingstone Island is that it is the only way to get to the Devils Pool.  This is a swimming spot right on the edge of the falls.  To get there we walked to the other end of Livingstone Island, and then swam across the top.  It sounds really scary (and was a little bit) but there are loads of workers around providing support etc.  To get into the Devils Pool, you walk across the rocks and then have to jump in.  It is totally surreal standing at the top of the falls, looking at the falls and being told to jump out as far as you can!  I totally impressed myself by actually jumping!  All was fine though, we sat around on the edge and had loads of photos and then swam back to the island where we were treated to afternoon tea and Pimms!  It was particuarly civilised after being on the truck for 4 weeks!
Livingstone was also a point that a number of people were getting off the truck, so we had a number of particularly sad goodbyes as people we have spent the last 4 weeks with left.  We also had a number of new people join the truck, nothing like a huge change!
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