The morning after rafting was an interesting one. We all emerged slowly from the tents as we tested how much muscle use we still had and whether the sunburn had faded any. It was decided that the 4 of us that had bought the double entry visa for Zambia would be able to make it to the border and more importantly the 1.3km walk from one border to the other.
The border of the 2 countries is spanned by a bridge across the Zambezi River. To get there we took a taxi, passing an accident along the way. Our driver seemed to have passed it a few times already that morning and proceeded to give us all the details on injuries etc. At the border we organised for the same driver to pick us up for the return leg. As the driver drove off, we heard a voice calling to us. Not wanting to go through the negotiation and haggling phase again we continued on. The person was quite insistent and eventually Craig went to find out what he wanted. We had ordered T-shirts to be made the day we arrived at Livingstone and it was this person who had recognised Steve and thought that we were leaving Zambia permanently without our shirts. We reassured him that we would be returning to our tour group that night and he continued on his way. That is service!!
The Zambian border crossing was quite relaxed. They decided that we didn't need to fill out any forms and just stamped us out. What was more interesting was that they seemed to assume that we were Bungy jumpers and surprised that we were going to Zimbabwe. On the way across the bridge we saw the bungy launch point and also had a good vantage point of where we had started the rafting from.
The rafts set-up at the end of rapid 1
The Zimbabwean border control again was fairly relaxed, no need to fill in forms, just hand over the required amount of money. What did surprise us was we were then given a small ticket which had a number which corresponded with the number of people in our group. We had to show this ticket to the person on the gate. This is the first time we had encountered any kind of real control over who was actually going over the border. Up until now, we think it would be possible to get from Kenya to Zambia without a passport, as you could easily blend into a group and walk straight through the gates. We stress that this isn't a recommended process, plus the stamps make your passport look really good!
Officially into Zim and the first thing we are offered is money. Yes, you have read correctly, for a few US$ you can own your own Zim$50,000,000,000,000 note (50 trillion) plus a few others thrown in free. It doesn't matter that it is absolutely useless. Our friends managed to find a $100,000,000,000,000 note. Very jealous. After this slight detour, we headed straight for the Victoria Falls National Park, where we wandered around for the next few hours.
The entrance to the park. Mosi-oa-Tunya or 'smoke that thunders' is the traditional name for Victoria Falls.
David Livingstone - the first westerner to see the falls.
From the Zimbabwean side, you're further from the falls, though the overall views are better. From the Zambian side, you can almost stand on top of the falls, though your perspective is narrowed. One of the viewing platforms was quite close to the edge and thus we managed to get quite damp. We can only imagine how wet it would be when the falls are in full flow during wet season. Given it was quite hot we were welcoming of the spray and concentrated on protecting cameras rather then ourselves.
The mist rising behind us at one of the first platforms
This warthog looks rather skinny considering the abundance of lush grass constantly watered by the mist.
The Falls cover an area of over a kilometre and there were lots of viewing platforms. We could even see a group of people that were jumping off rocks into a rock pool located on a Zambian cliff. They did give a few people a shock as it looked like they were headed for the Zambezi which was a around 100m below.
Looking down the length of the falls. In wet season you would not see any rock, just a solid wall of water.
'Cataract' section of the falls
The full drop at 'Cataract'
Smaller falls down the length the face.
We stayed in Zim for lunch and couldn't believe how quiet the town of Victoria Falls was. It was only a couple of years ago that this was the preferred tourist destination for the falls. It is sad how politics has turned so many people away. After lunch we were headed for the local market when the tourist police stopped us. It seemed that they were quite bored, and we were escorted around the town.
There were heaps of these baboons around the town scavenging for food.
Our brief experience of Zim is that the falls are far more amazing from the Zim side, so if you can venture across definitely do so. All the people we came across were very happy to have tourists around and more then willing to help us out. We felt that the tourist police were a little over the top, but accept that for many others it would be a comfort.
Back on the bridge and we were in time for our friend Dan's bungy jump. He was looking very nervous so we did our best to calm him down and then ran off to take photos and video. We got there in time to see a girl jumping who had jumped the previous day but her video hadn't worked. She was redoing it because she was using the jump as a fundraiser for a charity so needed proof! Watching Dan has confirmed that both of us would need to be paid a very large amount of money before even considering it! Dan's verdict was that the jump was fine, the painful bit was when they pulled him up!
The view down the Zambezi from the jump platform
This girl was doing her second jump.