Tag Archives: Zambia

Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe side

Victoria Falls

The Zambezi River cascading into the gorge to form Victoria Falls.

We just returned from our second trip to the famous Victoria Falls which is formed as the Zambezi River drops into the gorge that separates Zambia and Zimbabwe. During our January visit, we did several short hikes on the Zambia side and swam out to Devil’s Pool at the top of the falls next to Livingstone Island. Now that it is near the end of the rainy season, the water volume is much greater, and the roar of the falls and the spray is even more impressive. After a couple of days relaxing in Livingstone, we met our friends Christine and Mike on the Zimbabwe side. We had a great time hearing about the start of their trip in South Africa touring some private game reserves near Kruger National Park. The next day, we took a walking tour of the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls where we got soaked from mist and the localized rainfall caused by the falls themselves.

Lisa at Victoria Falls

Lisa during the walking tour of the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls.

We then took a helicopter tour over the falls themselves which was a great way to really appreciate their scope.

Victoria Falls from the air

Zimbabwe is the peninsula of land with the road leading to the town of Victoria Falls in the foreground. The bridge leading to Zambia is visible on the right.

Both Zambia and Zimbabwe have protected much of the land near Victoria Falls from development and numerous animal and bird species are thriving including kudu, zebra, giraffes and elephants.

Elephants at the lodge

Elephants at the watering hole visible from Victoria Falls Safari Lodge.

The town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe is within walking distance of the falls themselves. It is a compact little tourist town, the English language skills of the residents are great, and the national currency of Zimbabwe is the USD so it is very easy to figure out the prices. Overall it did seem more expensive than the town of Livingstone in Zambia, but we found a great deal on lodging and camped at Shoestrings Backpackers for US$8 per person per night.

Shoestrings Backpackers

The colorful, relaxing atmosphere of Shoestrings Backpackers.

Besides the expense, the only negative to the town is the number of very persistent vendors who try to sell tourists the old valueless Zimbabwe currency with bills printed in the billions of dollars from the time when hyperinflation occurred in the country. In July 2008, inflation was estimated at 231,150,888.87% and it got worse from there. Here is a short Economist article on the changeover to the USD.

Zimbabwe currency

The famous one hundred billion note! These can be fun souvenirs and are much cheaper to purchase on the Zim side. A US$5 will get you a stack of various denominations, and you can probably haggle down to cheaper prices since the currency is worthless except as an interesting historical item.

Our friends also booked a visit to a nearby village which we probably wouldn’t have thought to do, but it was a very educational experience to see the differences between Kavango and Zimbabwe rural life.

mpisi village sign

You know you are doing well when there is such a nice sign for your village!

The village headman, Mpisi (meaning Hyena) is a very charismatic and energetic person who explained his role as village consensus builder and took us on a tour of his homestead.

Mpisi village tour

Mpisi showing off an award he won for his innovations in promoting the use of natural products made from native trees and other plants to our friends Christine and Mike.

When Mpisi found out Lisa was a teacher, he told us that his daughter was also named Lisa and is a teacher at the local village school. He introduced us to her and then she took over the rest of the tour. The two Lisas discussed their schools and challenges, and it was a great experience for both to learn firsthand about education in another Southern African country.

Lisa and Lisa

Lisa with our new friend Lisa and her son. The cooking hut for the homestead is in the background.

hut with solar panel

The huts in the homestead were all very nicely built and maintained. This one even had a solar panel. on the roof. Was this a SolarCity install?

Zambezi River hippos

We ended the day with a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River upstream from Victoria Falls. Our friends had been on safari drives not close to major rivers previously, so they were glad to see numerous hippos from the boat.

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Our trip to Victoria Falls

We traveled to Victoria Falls in early January. It definitely lived up to our expectations! The Zambezi River gets very wide here and the falls cover a large section of the sheer cliff. These are some of the views from the Zambian side. We hope to check out the falls from the Zimbabwe side in May which should be close to peak time in terms of water volume.

victoria falls with rainbow

Beautiful rainbow created by all of the mist at the falls

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls view from trail.

Victoria Falls

Lisa and Josh along one of trails overlooking Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls

I tried to use a slow shutter speed here which was difficult on a sunny day but you can sort of get the effect.

Victoria Falls bridge

Victoria Falls foot bridge

Devil's pool

For some reason we decided to sit on the edge of Victoria’s Falls. This involved swimming a bit along the top of the falls until we got to Devil’s Pool. Don’t worry, it was guided. And I’m pretty sure they refund your money if you go over the edge of the falls.

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Border crossings and Chobe National Park

In early January, we finally had our first overland border crossing in Africa on our way to Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park. We stayed at Jollyboys Backpacker in Livingstone where we also booked our safari tour to Botswana. Chobe National Park is home to between 60,000 and 100,000 elephants as well as many other species. I consider it to be the best game viewing of any park we have visited so far.

taxi with flat tire

On our way to Livingstone, we encountered a bit of a delay. We were about midway between the Zambia/Namibia border and Livingstone when our taxi got a flat tire. With very little traffic on that section of road, we were a little worried about how long this minor repair would take (of course there was not a spare tire in the vehicle!), but we were rolling again in less than two hours. The new tire was a little too big for the car, but it worked until we switched vehicles at the next major town.

Zambezi water taxi

Getting from Livingstone, Zambia to Chobe National Park in Botswana was exciting and involved a water taxi across the Zambezi River which was about a half mile wide in this section. Four countries are visible from the river here: Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Our friends Mona and Chris got the last two seats in this boat, and we got to know a curio salesman as we waited for the taxi to return to shuttle us across the Zambezi.

Chobe River scene

A large group of hippos are halfway submerged in the Chobe River. The river widens here as it forms an island and provides prime habitat for a variety of animals and birds.

yoga bird

This bird’s strange pose is to dry its wings. Or it might be doing yoga. It stayed in this pose for several minutes. More on this bird and others in the next post.

Chobe landscape

The view from our safari vehicle in Chobe National Park. There are impala and baboons visible and the Chobe River is in the distance.

crocodile with young

A large female crocodile staying close to her young to protect them. You can see two of the little ones on the tree trunk on the right.

impala

Male impala. Part of a bachelor herd we spotted our first day in the park. Impala are very plentiful and their herd numbers grow quickly. They are frequently prey for lions and leopards.

elephants and buffalo

Chobe is home to an amazing amount of wildlife as evidenced here by a large group of elephants and cape buffalo.

leopard

This is actually from the last day of our trip to Chobe and one of the big highlights: A leopard sleeping in a dead tree. It had just rained and our guide told us that leopards don’t like to get their paws wet.

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