The last few days have been insane. I’ve actually had wifi to send emails, but what I didn’t have was time to write. Our days have had early starts (5:30) and because I knew I only had so little time left with the group I felt like I had to maximize the time left by staying up as late as I could. So here I sit in the plane in Livingstone, Zambia writing my last email.
After leaving Elephant Sands we made our way to a town near the Chobe River. This whole trip we’ve been traveling through towns and villages but places to stop to use the washroom have been few and far between. If you can picture a bus load of tourists getting off in the blistering heat and told to watch for snakes and scorpions while we pee you can only imagine how funny we looked. In Namibia it was so desolate that we were all basically just squatting in the open. So the other day I found a tree/bush and popped a squat but I somehow lost my balance and with my shorts around my ankles I fell over into spikes. With my bare bum in potential snake territory, I was stuck and one of the ladies had to pull me out like a turtle on its back. Again, this is an example of becoming extremely close with someone that only weeks ago was just a stranger. When I got out of the bush I had thorns stuck into my shoulder that we had to pull out one by one. Only in Africa!
Chobe is this beautiful National Park with jungle like trees that slopes down to the river. And where there’s water there’s definitely animals!!!! That evening we got our own boat for a river cruise. We had a cooler full of drinks and we were set. There was so much wildlife that you didn’t know which way to turn. On one side of the boat there were loads of hippos and crocs and the other were everything else. And I mean everything! Dumbass (me) forgot to switch her camera battery so about 15 minutes in I was cameraless. Thankfully we were so close to the animals that my iPhone got quite a few good pictures. By the end of the cruise I was so tipsy from brandy that I couldn’t tell you what I was taking pictures of!
The next morning it was another early start as we set off on our last game drive of the trip. I think this was probably the best safari so far because we got so unbelievably close to the animals. At one point we followed a pride of lions. There were 8 of them and they came right up to our vehicle. Elephants were everywhere and many had babies with them. Of course we saw all the other African wildlife, but what stood out the most for me was when we found one massive lone male lion. He was literally maybe 2 meters away at times. He looked like Scar from the Lion King as we was completely disheveled and had a squinty eye. He didn’t look happy and when he growled at us this looked even more true!
Later that day was more travel. This time we crossed the river by ferry to the border of Zambia. Once in Zambia we drove to the town Livingstone. This is where one of the wonders of the world is – Victoria Falls. Basically Victoria Falls straddles two countries. On one side Zambia and the other Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe side is said to have better views so I decided I’d pay the big bucks to get a Visa and go into Mugabe territory.
I don’t know what Canada did to piss other countries off in the past, but buying a Zimbabwe Visa cost more than double any other country. I remember this was the same when I traveled to Laos a few years back. And to make matters worse the Zim currency doesn’t exist any more so they have to use American Dollars. My trip to see the falls ended up costing me $185 US!!!!!! I have to say that the views were absolutely spectacular and definitely worth every penny. Before we got to see the falls we had to do another death march to cross the border. Between the Zimbabwe and Zambia border you have to walk for about 40 minutes in zero shade. This would be fine on a cool day but Africa is not cool…it’s hot! With the sun beating down and it being mid day, by the time we reached the gate entry we were completely soaked in sweat. Thankfully we were there to see waterfalls and soon it was like we were standing under a mist shower. Victoria Falls is massive. Based on its width of 1708 metres and height of 108 metres, it measures as the world’s largest sheet of falling water. The view is like nothing I’ve ever seen, and the icing on the cake is the massive rainbow that stretches from one side to the other. I can see how it became one of the wonders of the world!
My passport pages were in full use yesterday as we traveled to three different countries. Imagine Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe all in one day!
And that brings us to today. Again, so much to do and such little time. I was up again at the crack of dawn to squish in my last adventure before heading to the airport. This adventure was swimming in pools that were literally on the edge of Victoria Falls! So we got on a boat that was part of the Zambezi River on the Zambia side and drove towards the cliff of the falls. Right before the drop there was this little island. We docked and walked across the island. From there it became rocky and BAM, there were the falls. I don’t know what idiot first tried swimming there first to test if you wouldn’t get sucked over but stupid tourists just play along. We jumped in the water that had mini rock pools, and once you are in them the current pushes you to the edge but you are stopped by a wall of rocks. So basically you get bashed into the rocks high above a death drop. It was so cool! You could peer over the edge of the falls and see the water crashing down below. On the way back to the dock I got to see one last hippo. So surreal.
So as you can probably tell the last three and a half weeks have been a life changing adventure. Traveling through five countries and experiencing the different cultures has been fascinating. Seeing all the wildlife up close has been unbelievable and never gets old. But what stands out the most are the friendships I’ve made. I haven’t laughed this much in a very long time and leaving today has literally been heartbreaking. I’ve cried enough to fill the Zambezi River! One of the closest friends I made here is from South Africa and it is so difficult to leave someone that lives on the exact opposite side of the world. You just never know if you’ll see each other again. But we’ve promised to skype and keep in touch so thank goodness for technology.
I urge all of you that if you ever have the opportunity to travel to this part of the world, do it! I’ve enjoyed every second and to sum it up, Africa always steals a piece of your heart!