Victoria Falls – “The Smoke that Thunders”
Coming back to Livingstone for the second time was only a slight detour that provided a beautiful setting for my birthday, a cheap place to research 4×4’s for our South West Africa adventure and a chance for Sarah to see some antique water feature down the road.. We were staying at the bizarrely named “Fawlty Towers” guesthouse for a week which had free Wi-Fi, swimming pool, nice bar and was self catering. No Basil or Manuel to be seen though. The self catering provided us with ample time to prime our cooking skills before we set of to Botswana, Namibia and South Africa with our 4×4, gas stove and tent. We spent a couple of days relaxing and catching up with the world before embarking on a mission to find a cheap but reliable 4×4 rental company. Not easy to do as the World Cup was around the corner and most companies had full bookings, but in the end after a lot of searching and emails we found not only the cheapest around but one that was free for the time we wanted. For my Birthday we had a very relaxed time, cocktails for breakfast followed by watching DVD’s and then with a slap up steak dinner in a local restaurant. A great day relaxing and now my second birthday on the road, this time last year I was in Laos.
The following day we ventured down to Mosi-oa-Tunya – “the Smoke that Thunders” aka Victoria Falls. Located on the Zambezi River that separates Zambia from Zimbabwe the 1.6km long and 61m – 120m high waterfall is one of the biggest in the world. The falls were first discovered by legendary explorer and missionary Livingston in 1855. The falls gush out an amazing 55 million liters of water per second and the force and power of the falls as you stand in front of them is immense. We were there at the end of the rainy season so the falls were at their most powerful and as we walked by the falls the downpour from the mist was breathtaking. We were sodden within the first few minutes and crossing the narrow bridge to see more of the falls on the Zambian side became treacherous. After half an hour we were soaked through but the experience of being so close to this thundering giant was awe inspiring. No better way to dry out than to walk to the Botoka Gorge and to watch Sarah jump 111m off the bridge on a bungee cord. With an ear piercing scream she completed the same bungee I had done around a month ago! Even watching Sarah do the jump my made my heart race and pump the same way it had done when I had done it. Adrenaline still pumping we enjoyed a few beers that night in celebration of her feat of nerves of steel.
Livingstone is a pleasant town if not a little shabby but around you it is easy to see that the people here enjoy a much better standard of living than in neighbouring countries. One thing that makes this apparent is the better roads, shops, cafes and restaurants as well as the number of women wearing fashionable wigs (of all things!!). You still have the dry air and dust to remind you that you are still in Africa though! However, with all Africa one thing remains constant – women breastfeed their children everywhere and at any time. Children strapped to the backs of their Mum’s are quickly whisked to the front to enjoy a spot of refreshment. One thing about African kids (and there are millions of them everywhere) is that they are well behaved, all grow up very fast and whenever you travel your eardrums aren’t pounded to death by these hordes of screaming children. In fact during our travels we only once came ac ross an unruley little child!
We enjoyed or last remaining days in Livingstone reading, eating, relaxing and getting things in order before we headed back to Jo-burg to pick up the 4×4. We had one last overnight and most of the following day bus through Zimbabwe back to Jo-burg which was pleasant only due to the lack of people on board where we were able to spread out and enjoy a good night’s sleep as we ventured through the dark countryside. We spent one more week in Jo-burg waiting for our 4×4 to be ready whilst stocking up on supplies for our long journey ahead where we would be in our 4×4 for 2 months and take us through Botswana, Namibia and back into South Africa for the World Cup.