Day 7 and 8: Livingstone I presume?

1 Sep

We made record time from Kasane to cross from Botswana to Zambia – 65 minutes after leaving the campsite we were on board the car ferry! It can take up to five hours in a queue as usually only one of the two ferries are operating.

Border crossings are fascinating but most times cameras are forbidden. I took a chance and asked the armed guard if I could use my camera got the OK. The canoes you see crossing in the opposite direction are used to smuggle dutiable goods. I was impressed with the mobile money changer, a young guy with a thick wad of Kwacha and Pula and no calculator who has approval to work the ferry passengers.

Outside immigration control is great spot to barter with mobile vendors – I traded a USB flash drive for two solid carvings, a hippo and buffalo. The seller wanted my stainless steel water bottle too but my need for it was greater.

We stopped in Livingstone to get some electrical part replacements for the truck at the open market. Find me a market and I’m instantly happy. The life and colour always lift my spirits.

Home for the next two nights, the last under canvas, was the Zambezi Waterfront hotel and camp site, perfectly situated beside a five star resort, The Livingstone, on the bank of the river. A Zimbabwean owns both so the gate between is left open and I availed myself of the luxury of excellent table service in the restaurant and a spa treatment to ease the kinks from bumpy roads and hard ground. Budget is good but luxury is better!

GP made good on his bet with Genevieve on evening two that she could not go without shoes for the remainder of the trip. They breed them tough in Chicago and he lost most of his beard to Katie’s scissors.

The last hurrah for the group was the evening ‘booze cruise’ on the Zambezi – all you can drink for USD30. Several people were leaving next day so it was a rowdy night of drinking and dancing. No one went overboard but a small child came close. I’d saved a fat Partagas for just such an occasion. Sadly no Mojitos, but it went very well with Gin and Tonic.

I loved hearing GP’s stories of previous overland trips. Apparently ‘There’s always one’, but our group had distinguished itself by NOT having that one. No bitch slapping or cold shoulders, everyone was polite and respectful, did our appointed duties without being asked and were on time or early for all departures. I felt like Barry and GP should be doling out gold stars! Instead we organised our ‘tour shirts’ to commemorate our journey with catch phrases and symbols and our names. Nicely done, as Canadian Mark would say.

I had an early start as I’d booked a swag of things for my last day: a walk with lions, Victoria Falls Tour and a 30-minute helicopter flight over the falls, the river and down the gorge.

The lion walk sounds naff but it was awesome and I have high hopes for the success of their four-stage lion conservation program. What would Africa be without the symbolism of the lion?

Twice I was moved to tears, once when nine-month-old cub Dendy let me stroll beside her with my hand on her back and the second time when our helicopter pilot Brian (aka ‘Lock up your daughters’) pointed out a lone elephant swimming across a wide part of the river.

Brian was a very cool operator, he really pulled some Gs swooping down so low over the rapids I felt I could have reached out and touched them. The Falls are unlike any formation I have seen before, it’s like someone just gouged out a 1.7 kilometre straight line from one end to the other. The obligatory Testosterone fuelled jack asses were present, two young guys in swimsuits were clambering around the very lip of the falls. An overland guide died there last year and two weeks ago a Zambian was washed over.

I like to keep the odds down when I can, no bungee, zip line or microlites for me!

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