Friday, June 8, 2012

Victoria Falls: Mosi-oa-Tunya

From Capetown we flew up to Livingstone to check out Victoria Falls! We had an evening boat tour on the Zambezi River, during which we saw crocodiles, lots of birds, and hippos. And here my fear of hippos began. One of them actually jumped out of the water menacingly about 10 feet from our boat, prompting our guide to speed up the boat and get us out of its path! Even though hippos are not meat-eaters, they are responsible for A LOT of attacks on humans because they are so territorial. Yikes.
Group shot with our elephant friends!
The next morning was an adventure packed day, the day I was probably looking forward to the most! We started off our morning with Elephant Back Safaris, a company that cares for orphaned elephants from Zimbabwe. We learned about the elephants, and then took a one hour tour around the reserve, each of us on an elephant! Most elephants had one guide and two people on them, but Grace and I both volunteered to go solo with the guides. My elephant’s name was Shikombi, and Grace rode her daughter [conceived when Shikombi left the reserve for 10 months with a bunch of wild bulls] Sheverruka. It was a great morning! After getting off the elephants we all got to feed them treats. My elephant was super hungry, and I had to show her how the bag was completely empty after pouring the remaining crumbs into her mouth!

A safe distance away from our afternoon shower at the falls!

Now visiting Victoria Falls is extremely different if you go during the dry season, in fact if you go at that time there is barely any water at all, just a bit over on the Zimbabwe side [the pictures are crazy!]. Luckily we visited right at the end of the rainy season, so the falls were full force. We had massive ponchos on, and still managed to get very wet. It was like taking a shower. Small children were preventing their parents from heading into the thick of it because they were so scared of how loud it was. The original name of the falls is “Mosi-oa-Tunya” meaning “the smoke that thunders,” and whoah was it loud!
scariest 30 seconds of my life thus far... but pretty incredible
Luckily it was quite warm outside so we dried off pretty fast, and headed to the bridge for our long-awaited adventure: BUNGEE JUMPING. Naturally, being the oldest and the one whose idea it was, I had to go first. We arrived in time to watch a girl, all set to jump, have a freak out and change her mind. The next guy to go was extremely confident. When he stepped up to the jumping point he gave everyone a little salute and soared off the platform [we later found out it was somewhere around his 15th bungee jump]. And this was the person I had to follow. Next time I get good enough internet to load the video, you’ll see that I wasn’t really given much time to think about jumping/to change my mind, in fact it actually kind of felt like I got a bit of a push. Anyway, bungee jumping was INSANE! It was WAY scarier than skydiving! Freefalling through the air, then bouncing way back to a standing position in the middle of the air was terrifying! Oh and in addition to jumping over the falls, there was also a rainbow beneath us. Grace, Mimi, and I survived the jump [though one of us almost had a panic attack on the platform, not naming names] and would recommend this adventure to anyone seeking a serious adrenaline rush! 

hoping that the bush would conceal us from the notoriously bad vision of the rhinos
We took a short-lived break from the madness to have a quiet lunch over the Zambezi, but an hour later it was off to see the rhinos! There were 8 white rhinos in the park, and because of the threat of poaching, they are under a 24-hour surveillance by armed guards who are ready to shoot anyone threatening the animals. These guards took us to see the rhinos up close [luckily not too close, those animals are huge!]. Turns out the white rhino is so named not because it is white, but because people meant ‘wide-mouthed’ and something got lost in translation. Regardless, it was pretty sweet that we got to go out on foot and walk with the guards to see them! After a sundowner on the banks of the Zambezi, our short time in Zambia came to a close, and we were off to Botswana!

No comments:

Post a Comment