Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Leopard in a tree, goat on a roof, zebra in a hotel

This day can really be broken into 3 distinct chunks: our last game drive, the most interesting border crossing ever, and discovering Livingstone.

Trip notes 10 Jun:  Up at 5am for game drive. Freaking COLD and windy!!  Nice guide, good drive. Boring at first since animals were all asleep. Saw two leopards toward the end of the trek so it was a good drive overall. 

The game drive through Chobe was a far cry better than the one we had at Makgadikgadi a few days prior, even though we were in an open air vehicle.  The downside to traveling to Africa in the off-season (winter) is that our early morning game drive started out very cold and very dark.  There were the three of us plus one German lady and one Aussie guy.  (I swear, Aussies were everywhere this trip!!)  The Aussie guy is a musician, so we had some common ground as far as small talk goes.

On the game drive we saw the usual suspects: hippos, elephants, crocodiles, giraffes, impalas, kudu but this time we were joined by baboons, jackals and even a leopard!  The baboons were definitely the highlight for me because there was a very playful baby in the group.  We would get much closer to baboons the next day during our 2nd most interesting border crossing ever.  Enjoy some pictures from the game drive.

Boop!  Igotyounose!
Hi, I'm a giraffe
Jackals and a kudu

What are you looking at?
Me & C trying to stay warm!

Left for Zambia at 10.30. Took an open air safari car abt 20 minutes to the river. Transferred to a dinky boat for a few minutes' ride to Zambia. In the middle of the river, the boat driver stops so we can take pictures of no man's land. (Bot/Nam/Zim/Zam) 

I am very thankful for the planning that SAM & C put into this trip.  Otherwise, we would probably still be waiting to cross the Zambian border!  Upon leaving the lodge, we got in the same open air vehicle we had just used for our safari.  The driver informed us it would be a 15-20 minute ride to the Zambian border and after we crossed the river, 'someone' would be there to pick us up.  Yeah, I'm full of confidence!

Our hosts in Maun told us that semi trucks can spend upwards of two weeks in line to cross into Zambia.  We were about to find out why.  Turns out that there is no bridge over the Kazungula river and the ferry can only hold one semi at a time.  On our way to the banks of the Kazungula river, we passed dozens of trucks waiting in line.  To get around this time constraint, a few enterprising businessmen have taken some 'fishing boats' and turned them into passenger ferries.  I use the term 'fishing boat' lightly.  Our boat had 9 plastic chairs (like the kind found in any middle school band hall or church rec room) bolted to the deck.  The three of us were joined by a lady traveling solo and with the 4 of us and all our bags, that's all that would fit on the dodgy boat of certain doom.  So we started to cross the river, which is bigger than I anticipated.

A new country: Botnamzimzam!
The river crossing skirts four countries.  We had already been processed out of Botswana but had not checked into Zambia yet.  We were in the middle of no man's land between Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia yet in none of those countries.  We were like Schroedinger's travelers; it's not until we reach land again would we know what country we were in.  Our captain stopped in the middle of the river so we could take pictures.  We stepped off the dodgy boat of certain doom, went through immigration and were then officially in Zambia.  We met up with Steve, the taxi driver our next host had arranged to bring us into Livingstone.  An hour, $120 and one goat sighting later, we were in Livingstone.
Yes, the goat is strapped down.
Headed to the Royal Livingstone Hotel for drinks. AMAZING place!  Very high end, colonial, manicured. Drinks were nice and cheaper than we anticipated. Booked in dinner for Mon night.

C was traveling with a Lonely Planet guide book that recommended a great place for drinks.  We pulled up to the Royal Livingstone Hotel and were astonished by the luxury digs.  Now we know why we couldn't afford to stay there.  Thankfully, there was no dress code and we were able to enjoy a happy hour at the top of Victoria Falls.  SAM had something blue to drink while C and I opted for a drink called, "I Presume".  Bonus points if you get the reference!  During our conversation with the bar staff, we learned that the Royal Livingstone Hotel is home to four giraffes and eleven zebras.  They have their very own zebras!? Why yes, indeed.

Mmm...hotel grass.

Doorman for RLH took us to the Zam-side park entrance to Vic Falls. Paid $10pp to enter: doorman saved us 50%.  Walked around Vic Falls until 5p.  Taxi back to town, ate dinner at Zambezi Cafe. Good pizza, beef stew and peri peri chicken + garlic bread. Bill was $32.  Back to hotel by 7, tucked in for the night at 8.30. Long day again but are sleeping in tomorrow!

Me and SAM at the top of Victoria Falls, Zambia

Victoria Falls is best experienced from both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides.  We had just enough time before sunset to enjoy the Zambian side.  We also managed to make a friend in our cab driver, a nice kid by the name of Collings.  Before he dropped us at the B&B for the night, we arranged for him to be our driver the next day.  He was thankful for the work.  After our experience at happy hour, it was a reminder that we were in a developing nation.

Tomorrow brings a day trip to Zimbabwe, walking with lions, the world's best mojito, and a magnificent walk alongside Victoria Falls.

No comments:

Post a Comment