A Travellerspoint blog

July 2007

Victoria Falls

The Smoke that Thunders

sunny 20 °C
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For some crazy reason we seem to be getting up early. Like, Army days early. Almost every day. We decided to set out and see the Victoria Falls at sunrise. Of course we hadn’t checked when that actually was, so we set out at 0600 to the park, which we reached a mere 10 minutes later. The park should open at 0600, but as our driver (same great guy for 2 days – Chris was his name) told us – Zambians love to make money, but they just don’t like to show up on time to earn it!

Which was a lucky stroke, as Chris decided to give us a quick private tour to the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Needless to say, it’s not the most secure crossings I’ve ever seen. The first sign was the fence (which a customs official, ironically, unlocked and “opened” for us) as it sagged on supports held up by strands of what was once fence, but were now strands through which cars could drive! The next sign of low security, and high tolerance for “cross-border incursions” were the smugglers making their way along the train tracks, which sat just below the online of site in a 6 foot trench road-side. The situation in Zimbabwe being as poor as it is, the people smuggle beer, goods and other junk to Zambia to make a living. No weapons in sight, I felt fine making our way onto the bridge for our first breathtaking view of Victoria Falls just before sunrise. We also added Zimbabwe to our itinerary, but just for a few minutes, as we crossed the border mid-bridge, and then made our way back.


After our incursion into Zimbabwe, we found the park open and set out find a photographic spot or two. Unluckily, I lost our point and shoot canon that has a waterproof housing, as some of the most dramatic scenes to be shot were literally underwater! In any event, we found a couple nice places for some pics, but they can scant do justice to the majesty of the view. Definitely something to be seen (and heard!) in person.


Posted by lloydthyen 18:24 Archived in Zambia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Livingstone, I presume . . .

sunny 22 °C
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Livingstone has turned out to be a nice respite from crazy large cities like Nairobi and Cairo (not that we spent time there, but on the roads at least!). We had an interesting dinner at a local place in Livingstone that serves ethnic African – so basic meats and veggies with a very un-appealing maise-starch-cornmeal stand-in that doubles as either glue or mortar depending on the consistency or application!
In any event, the meal sufficed, but the best part was the interaction with the local staff who were amazingly friendly and wonderful to talk to. I’ll eat anything as long as I can meet the locals and have a nice time! And beer and fatigue usually help. That and a wonderful sunset, seem to be the end to a perfect day!

Posted by lloydthyen 18:14 Archived in Zambia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Leaving Nairobi

On again, off again, almost on the way. . .

sunny 21 °C
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Ok – Lloyd’s turn to do a bit of writing. Jacquie is much better and more polished than I am, so I should probably keep it “short and sweet”.

After lions, leopards, cheetah, rhino and water buffaloes the most dangerous part of leaving Kenya was Nairobi. Whether it was the “Death Race 2000” style driving (not quite as bad as Cairo, which shall be covered in a separate blog!) or the general disorder of the city itself, our short time there (a single overnight in an exceptionally safe hotel – see TripAdvisor posting by Jacqiue here-) came to an exciting conclusion with a passenger mutiny on our flight out of Nairobi (luckily on the GROUND!).

To be fair, a bit of concern was in order when we were delayed leaving due to “navigational systems problems” that left us waiting on the plane for an hour or so, prior to pushback. Upon pushback (by a large tractor with the Boeing 767 on external air-conditioning – which means, all the doors open!!) the pilot attempted to go from the external power unit to the plane’s own, which resulted in a difficult to describe crunchy-churning sound. Kind of like my 1983 Ford Escort (that I got from my brother Roger in 1993 when I went to college) when it was near death. Not so good comparing a 1983 Ford to a late model Boeing 767. In any event, the real fun then started with numerous passengers standing, shouting and refusing to allow the plane to taxi, take off or move. It was like nervous Zebra on the plains of the Masai Mara – no sense, no reason, just scared. I’ll admit my concerns, however, I suppose the recent crash of an Kenya Airways flight probably played a role.

After a 10 or 15 minute standoff (during which the crew disappeared for fear of lynching) the pilot announced he needed all aboard to be seated and buckled in to move back to the gate. Again, nobody moved, as they figured it was a trick by the pilot to take-off. Not being such a cunning sort, the pilot did take us back, whereupon, we all disembarked, only to listed to the shortest and quietest ground crew member announce that the plane was serviceable, the flight would go, and anyone not wishing to be on board could stay and take the flight the following day. Of course, a number jumped up, yelled, and demanded an “independent government inspector” to check the plane. The rest of us jumped up, boarding pass in hand and moved to re-board. Which we did, and the fact I am writing this means, well, we landed safely and without catastrophic event.


So . . . 6 hour delay behind us, we had only one piece of the itinerary (tightly scheduled by Jacquie!) that was uncertain – getting from Lusaka, Zambia to Livingstone, Zambia. The only thing we really had was the chance to catch a bus locally, which had long since left before our departure from Nairobi. As luck would have it, we found a very reasonable flight wit Air Zambia on a puddle jumper. The 45 minute flight (better than 6 hours on a bus!) even afforded us a quick view of the falls as we approached Livingstone.

Posted by lloydthyen 17:20 Archived in Kenya Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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