Day 17 – Vic Falls

28 Sep

This is more like it. A sunset cruise on the Zambezi. Barman making sure my Martini doesn’t run dry, comfy arm chair, “Signature Deck” at the top, away from the plebs, elephants, crocodiles, and hippos in the water, and a waitress bringing me delicious canapés (such as crocodile on a stick), with dinner still to come.

Bush camping is awesome, but a little peaceful luxury with undertones of colonialism is also very nice, from time to time.

Spot the elephants in the centre of this pic. There were plenty of cross and hippos in the water too, but they’re mostly under the water so don’t make a good photo.

Carpaccio of beef and ostrich. Prime fillet of Zimbabwean beef. A sensational tiramisu flavoured Amarula. Nom nom nom. Honestly, if you ever visit vic falls, take the signature deck sunset cruise on the Zambezi Explorer. You will love it.

Maybe I should be taking National Geographic-style photos of ethnic people in colourful traditional dress and mud huts, but instead here’s a photo of my Mojito on the top deck of the Zambezi Explorer after dark.

Update: Those elephants again

Day 17 – Zambia

28 Sep

A too-long walk in 38 degree heat across the Victoria Falls Bridge for a quick visit to the Zambian side of the falls, a purchase in the gift shop, and a tick in the Zambia box. Based on what I saw, I’m not missing much by not exploring further, and I earned that tick with the bloody walk, pestered every step of the way by the hawkers.

The view from Zambian side of the falls is even more laughably pathetic thanks to the recent drought.

Day 17 – The Smoke That (Sometimes) Thunders

28 Sep

In Zimbabwe, even getting a ticket to enter the falls requires waiting for someone to complete a form by hand, in triplicate, using carbon paper.

Then you make your way to the falls. I just expected it to be flat and empty at the top, like grass or a carpark, but there’s a little rainforest sustained by the spray.

You can hear the falls but can’t see it, and there’s a little bit of excitement as you approach the first viewing area, feeling a bit like Livingstone about to see it for the first time.

Disappointing. Still, it’s 7km long so let’s wander further up.

A bit better. Let’s go the next bit.

Oh. Someone’s turned it off.

It’s been so dry lately, the falls are not in full swing. Oh well.

All my photos came out rubbish. Even my attempts to be artistic

Here’s a little tip. If you’re the first one down the path in the morning, your face will be the first one to break through all the strands of cobweb between the trees.

Day 16 – Victoria Falls

27 Sep

Hawkers and scam artists everywhere.(Always called Moses. Always have a brother with diabetes who hasn’t eaten today. Always with a cellphone and gold studs in their teeth and a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses but still too poor to feed their 15 children…)

Quite unpleasant. (Although I do understand that most of them have very little income, this isn’t the way to solve it.) 

On the other hand I struck an astounding deal and I believe I am now extraordinarily wealthy.

I could have had a 50 billion dollars note but that would just be ostentatious.

I thought I’d head to the falls for sunset photos. Didn’t realise they close the gates at 6. (Apparently, although in this place you learn quickly to distrust everything you hear because everyone has an angle) Arse. Tomorrow then. First real planning failure on this trip so far, and the reserve option was a mojito at the pool so mustn’t grumble.

Day 16 – Zimbabwe

27 Sep

I’ve been through many border crossings, and plenty of them more expensive, tedious, slow, or intimidating, but none quite so chaotic.

Today required two crossings. First the exit procedures from Namibia and entry into Botswana, then later exiting Botswana and entering Zimbabwe.

Botswana entry was slow because I arrived just behind one of the stupid “adventure tour” busses and had to queue behind 3 dozen clueless tourists who don’t know that you need your passport to clear immigration.

Trying to get ahead of them, I didn’t stop to take photos of the dozens and dozens of elephants in the trees along the short stretch of Botswana’s Chobe national park that forms the route to Zimbabwe.

The process was crowded and chaotic. Crowded because off all the “customs clearance agents” who you first take to be scammers as they offer assistance you didn’t ask for, but then later you discover that the officials on the other side of the desks require you to get papers from these agents. They’re all in on it together, and just like every other border, all these bits of paper you have to buy for insurance and customs guarantees and temporary import permits are worthless if you do get into an accident.

And the whole thing was so slow because all the forms had to be done in two copies using carbon paper.

There was one piece of carbon paper.

For the whole building.

So we all stood around waiting for our turn with it.

Then you proceed to the next desk, discover another form you have to do, and go back to queuing for the carbon paper.

Anyway, I got in, and arrived at the rather nice Kingdom Hotel. 

I had planned to spend 2 nights here then a night in Zambia, but I can’t face that customs procedure again on the morning of departure when I have a very long drive into Botswana to follow, so instead, in order to still tick Zambia off the list, I’m just going to cross the border on foot, visit the Zambian side of the falls, then return for an extra night at the Kingdom Hotel.

Now to go and see the falls. The good news is that uploading photos should be easy because Zimbabwe seems to have super fast Internet!