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Livingstone, Zambia

Author: Matthew B.
Date of Trip: January 2001

Today I am writing to you from Livingstone, Zambia named for the famous Scottish explorer who was the first European to set eyes on what he would later call Victoria Falls. Our time here has been quite enjoyable, but before I get to that I need to go back and describe our adventure just getting here.

Last Saturday we left Maun, Botswana for Zambia. What a journey it was. We missed the 6:30 AM combi (small vans used as a major form of transport in this region) but were able to get a seat on the 7:30 AM local bus that left precisely at 8 AM. At the conclusion of our first leg of the journey, nearly three hours after we began, we were dropped off at a gas station in Nata left to wait for a connection to the border town of Kazungla. Luckily not too long later a combi pulled in and the driver shouted, “Kasane” which was in the direction we were heading. We threw our bags in the back and hopped in the front with the driver for the 300 km drive.

When we asked how long it would take the driver was unsure because of the road conditions. The road to Kasane is filled with crater sized potholes so bad that it was often easier to drive in the dirt shoulder than it was the roadway. It was fun watching the big trucks zig zag their way around. Luckily the road is so deserted that you do not have to worry about cars coming from the other direction. Elephants are another story, as we passed several by the side of the road.

Upon reaching Kazungla we were dropped off once again at a gas station. We were able to catch a taxi to the boarder crossing. To get to Zambia you must use a ferry, a term I use loosely. The ferry can hold only one truck at a time. There must have been 50 trucks waiting on either side of the Zambezi River. The crossing is very short maybe 10 minutes. If anyone has crossed a land border in a third world country you will know how crazy it can be. It is always much easier going through immigration at an airport.

While in Zambia we stayed in the town of Livingstone. The town is a bit hard to describe. I hate to use the saying, but it is a bit more Africa like than all of the other places we have been to. Our first full day we spent exploring the city, especially one of the larger craft markets. Most of the goods are made by the local Tonga people. We were very surprised by their desire to trade. They asked us for pens, water bottles, shirts, even socks in exchange for goods. I swapped a T-shirt for a wood carving of a giraffe.

After a while of walking around we took a taxi to Victoria Falls. Once out of the cab you could already hear the thunder of the water crashing down the 108 meter drop to the bottom. Seeing the falls for the first time is indescribable. We walked along the path that ran directly in front of the falls and were surprised just how close we really were. The way the sun plays off the spray of the falling water, creates some magnificent rainbows that can almost always be seen.

The next day we caught the early morning shuttle back to the falls. This time instead of walking in front of them we decided to walk across the top of them. Since it is the dry season there are exposed rocks which make it possible to walk along the edge. So Rebecca and I, with a local guide, literally stood on the top of Victoria Falls! What an amazing view we had. As if that wasn’t enough we decided to cliff dive into a small pool located at the edge of the falls. The jump was a little over 10 feet high. The pool we jumped into had no current and was surrounded by rocks so you had no problem swimming to the side to pull yourself out. Wait until you see the pictures!

Now we are off to Namibia. We are leaving on a 12 noon bus and should arrive at our destination by 5:30 AM. Hope everyone is doing well. We miss you all. Only two weeks left, which is a little sad to say.

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca

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