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I was not prepared for my arrival in Zambia. I was there to visit the magnificent Victoria Falls, but I knew that the country was landlocked and I was prepared for a typical dusty, hot African town. Nothing could have been further from the truth. When we landed, I felt like we had arrived on a small Caribbean island. I could have been in St. Kitts, St. Vincent or Grenada. The air was fresh and clean and I relished this, taking in several large gulps of air.
From the airport, through the formalities, to the taxi, to the hotel, we were greeted with the hospitality of a place that knows that it depends on tourism for its livelihood. Everyone we spoke to seemed to be knowledgeable about their area of expertise and was also able to answer the myriad of other questions that we had. Where do we get a taxi? Where do we get money changed? How far is this hotel? Tourism was their business and they were happy to help, in an engaging way, an exchange between equals.
The town of Livingstone seemed to be laid out in an organized manner. The roads were great and the water was drinkable! You have no idea what a luxury that is until you have experienced the other side of that coin. In the serene calm of the town, it was easy to forget that just a mile or two away wild animals roamed, elephants, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles and baboons galore.
The quiet town hides a very well developed tourist product. There is no shortage of things to do, safaris by vehicle, foot and elephant back; bungie jumping; white-water rafting; helicopter rides; microlite rides; crocodile encounters; lion encounters; and more.
Our visit to the Victoria Falls was the sort of experience that confirms the existence of God to a believer and brings doubt to the mind of a non-believer. The beauty and absolute power of this perfectly natural phenomenon was overwhelming and we could only stop and stare. There was a couple with us who live just outside Niagra Falls and they were equally mesmerized. I can totally understand why David Livingstone, the first European to see these Falls, tried to claim it as his “discovery” although he was led there by the locals.
Victoria Falls – 5,604 ft wide – exist where the Zambezi River, which separates Zambia and Zimbabwe, falls over into a gorge 354 ft. deep. The Falls are partly in Zimbabwe and partly in Zambia. We were not able to cross over into Zimbabwe to see the falls from that side, but I am told that each country has its advantage. Most of the Falls are in Zambia and so from Zimbabwe you get a better view of the entire drop. However, from Zambia, you get closer to the Falls.
We visited in April at the end of the rainy season when the Falls were at their fullest. We could see the spray of the falls from our hotel although we were a few miles away from the falls. Between that view plus the sound of the water falling into the gorge, we could completely understand why the indigenous people gave it the name Mosi-oa-Tunya which means the Cloud that Thunders. Our guide provided us with raincoats and they were greatly appreciated because without them we would have been completely drenched from the spray of the water that was flowing over the Falls. It was a real pleasure to see that many local children enjoyed the beauty of their country, There were many of them, in their bathing suits, running back and forth on the bridge that crossed over the river.
I will let the photos tell the rest of the story.