Victoria Falls & Eye to Eye With A Leopard & Lion

27th of March 2016:
Today’s Easter Sunday! It’s sad that I’m not spending today in the usual way with a roast lamb with family and millions of Easter eggs flooding the kitchen. It makes you realise how special these days are and how you take it for granted. Instead of devouring my self in chocolate I jumped on the truck for a day’s drive to Elephant Sands. As the name suggests there’s plenty of elephants and sand, unfortunately for us there were only lots of sand. We did see a few when we first arrived but apparently nothing like it normally is. We spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool chatting and listening to a rich obnoxious English guy talk about God knows what. Then the storm came. At first it was only a few heavy rain drops for 5 minutes but when we thought we were safe it poured down. Thankfully I had a good view on top of the truck for 5 minutes prior to this. People were running in circles like ants trying to escape the rain. You would believe the truck would be a safe haven but the truck leaks from the windows and roof. Nick and I ran to our tent where we watched half the movie of, The Fault in our Stars before dinner was ready. Dinner was a gorgeous huge steak and for desert a chocolate cake. Whilst eating our tour guide was telling us the history of Namibia and Botswana. The political side of both countries was surprisingly fascinating given how recent Namibia became independent. I was in heaven but surprisingly exhausted after a day of nothing. This was definitely a different Easter than I am use to and I don’t think I’ll ever experience again, sadly. 

28th of March 2016:

We only had one night in Elephant sands so we were back on the road to Chobie. At the campsite we quickly set up our tents and made lunch in an hour before our first game drive in Chobie. Our hearts were not full of excitement rather we were expecting the worst or of what our previous game drive gave us… Nothing. I think it’s always better to go in with no expectation, because Chobie was breath taking. I couldn’t even tell you how many elephants we saw it would be at least 500 ranging from huge bulls ready to mate to baby elephants only a week old.

Chobie, Botswana

29th of March 2016:

Today’s the day we cross over into Zambia and go to Victoria Falls. I came here when I was a child with my parents and unfortunately our cameras went flat so I was determined to finally take photos and tick it off my bucket list. Unfortunately the truck was still not fixed so we had a very slow morning getting ready, having breakfast and chatting. We left for the border at 11:30am, luckily the border was 10 minutes down the road. After we got our passports stamped we drove another 5 minutes to the ferry port where we had to jump out and walk across the ferry. It took all of 5 minutes and we were in Zambia. Our tour leader grabbed our money and passports to get our visas stamped. This process of 26 passports took an hour. The 7 of us continuing on the tour past Livingstone received our passports first as we got Zambia and Zimbabwe in and out visa. As we waited for the others locals were hassling us to buy their wooden animals and what ever else. It was a long hour. We had another one hour drive from the border to our campsite. Thankfully we stopped off at a supermarket 10 minutes before our campsite to get money out and buy lunch. The first ATM didn’t accept MasterCard, lucky for me as the person in front of me was using it when the power went out for a few seconds. We went straight to Victoria falls. As it’s wet season the falls would be roaring, which means a lot of spray. The first moment I saw the falls it took me back to when I was a child staring at it in amazement. This time I saw it from the Zambia side instead of Zimbabwe. 

Victoria Falls, Zambia

We had 2 hours to walk around and see the falls from all angles. By the end I was completely soaked as if I stood in the shower with my clothes on. This was the worst day to wear a white top. I loved crossing the little bridge where you couldn’t even see because the spray was so dense. Luckily my phone didn’t get damaged otherwise I would have lost my phone and my camera would have been damaged. We only had 30 minutes to go to the bridge that joins Zambia and Zimbabwe, unfortunately to get to the bridge you have to “leave” Zambia even though technically were not actually leaving the country. Non of us brought our passports so she stamped a piece of paper and wrote four on it, how very professional. It was dry on the bridge but you could see the boiling pot and the falls behind it. We only spent 3 minutes on the bridge before we had to cross back over to jump on the truck. We saw Jamie and Cara on the bridge, Jamie unfortunately didn’t jump and Cara was harnessed up ready for her bungee.

We didn’t have much time before dinner at the restaurant. Tonight we had to pay our own meals and I kinda went all out. I ordered a steak, chips and vegetables and banana split for desert. Sometimes it’s nice to spoil yourself, especially when the steak was only $10 Aus. 

Everyone went to bed straight after dinner but myself, Kate and Bridget stayed up using the wifi. I face timed my dad on the way to work. It was nice to have a chat and the wifi was surprisingly good so there was no interruptions. I knew for the next half of the trip (20 days) it would be rare to have wifi, especially good enough to call. 

30th of March 2016:

Today was a very relaxing chilled day. I woke up at 6:15am to go on a microlight fight leaving the campsite at 6:45am. The microlight flight was expensive for 15 minutes but the experience was priceless. A microlight flight is a single passenger and pilot “plane”. Imagine one of the first planes to have aired, it was completely out in the open. Only a seat protected you and the outside world. The propeller was behind me as I spoke to and heard the history of Victoria falls through the headpiece. We flew around the falls, seeing the entire beauty for what it truly is. I remember when I was a kid I said that I would come back and do a helicopter ride over the Victoria falls and I definitely came back and ticked that box. I never thought I would have done it at 22 though. At one point the pilot tells you to stretch out your arms like your a bird, then he does it too, as your falling down into the falls, feeling free. The spray caused some turbulence but non that would concern you. It was the quickest 15 minutes and I could have quite happily have gone again. This was my only optional activity I chose and I was so thankful I did. We got back at 8am where I saw Thomas, Livie and Ella looking green in the face before their bungee jump. Nick, Kate and a few others spent the day with elephants and rafting. The bizarre moment was this was the longest we spent apart in the 3 months, and it was less than a normal working day. I decided to take the rest of the day off and have some “me time”. It’s hard to find when your travelling with 23 other people 24-7. I did all my washing which actually took me longer than I would have ever expected and had lunch by the pool. I got to use the wifi and speak to my mum. Then Nick came up to me with only an hour and a half before our cruise and asked if I wanted to go to town. I was a tad confused why the urgency but the lens he bought yesterday was already broken. We went straight back to the shop and explained the situation. After an hour of utter bullshit policies and them not wanting to give back the money it looked as if Nick was going to get his money back when the manager went to the bank. Unfortunately we just didn’t have time for “African time” and had to leave otherwise we would miss the cruise.

I ran and got changed and put make up on in 10 minutes, I was utterly surprised I got ready that quickly. It was still hot, and as we jumped on the cruise I was sweating, the sun had a bite to it. The night didn’t stay classy like you would imagine on a sunset cruise. We played a drinking game where you cant say the persons name, point, say the word “drink”, or have your glass closer to the edge of the table where someone could fit a finger in between. It got everyone drunk, without fail. The night continued in the bar where we were having shots on the ground. 

Livingstone, Zambia

Apparently you lie down on the ground with your shot glass in front of you when you go, you pick up the shot glass in your mouth and roll over. It sounds hazardous and I honestly don’t know how no one chocked. The night ended in the pool where once again some people went “skinny dipping”. 

31st of March 2016:

As I woke I knew I was going to have to pay for it for last nights adventures. The tent was stifling, but I didn’t feel well enough to get out. I pushed myself to walk to the truck where I sat on a chair and had breakfast. Normally this makes me feel better but not this time. I have never had the feeling of turning my head too quick that I was going to vomit. I tried sorting out my washing but felt nauseous. I knew in the back of my head that today was the day we were crossing to Zimbabwe by foot and spending the day there. I was struggling to walk the 30 metres from my tent to the truck. Nick wanted to sort out his lens so we took the free shuttle to town. Unfortunately they continued with bullshit and he didn’t get his money back, hopefully he can get it off warranty. We took a taxi from the town to the border where we got stamped out “officially” out of Zambia. Rhet and Ellie arrived at the same time. I would say we walked excitedly but I think the better phrase would be staggered to the border. The Zimbabwe border is a 20 minute walk and when your hungover it is possibly the worst thing to do. After a total of 30 minutes walking and 10 minutes waiting in the line to Victoria Falls we were in. We started our 2 hour walk along the falls. This breathtaking beauty makes you forget all your sorrows and allows you to become soaked in all its beauty, quite literally. Its amazing when you come back to a place that you visited when you were a child, it’s like a sense of déjà vu. 

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

After a litre of water and this enormous walk I was well and truly ready to sit down and have lunch. We had lunch at the lookout cafe. It was beyond breathtaking right on the edge of the river over looking the bridge that brings Zambia and Zimbabwe together. We all ordered a burger and chips, as there would of been nothing better. After an hour and half of not wanting to move we left to get U.S. Money out of the ATM as this would be the last place in Africa. We walked even slower if that was possible back home to our camp site. The rest of the night was spent on wifi buying flight tickets to Europe. After an hour of research and pure exhaustion running through my body we booked flights to Greece. 

1st of April 2016:

Today we finally left Livingstone with only 7 compared to 24 at the beginning of our tour. It was so bizarre to have so much room. We had another full day of driving ahead of us. We arrived at our campsite at 4pm where Zebras roomed the grounds only a metre away from us. Content with us staring in amazement. They remind me of my horse, Smurf as no matter what you do they continue to eat. I helped cook dinner and played with puppies as the sun began to set. After dinner we did a 30 minute yoga session. My body longed for this stretch, days on days of being cramped in a truck for hours caused my body to ache. As soon as yoga finished I was in bed ready to sleep.

2nd of April 2016:

Another full day of driving, we jumped off to eat some doughnuts for only 1 Zambian kwacha. Only 5 minutes later we were allowed to cross a bridge by foot as we gave them a five litre empty water bottle. This bridge had previously been blown up twice and had security to make sure it wouldn’t. It was the only bridge that joined the south and north parts of Zambia, and therefore important for transporting goods. We didn’t get to our campsite until 5:30pm, only leaving 30 minutes of scattered light free. After dinner we crashed in bed. Even though the past two days all we’ve done is drive for 12 hours, it surprisingly exhausting.

3rd of April 2016:

Finally we were doing something today other than just travelling on the truck. We had a nice sleep in and a long breakfast. I spent the rest of the morning lying by the pool reading a book and trying not to burn. The sun was playing hide and seek behind the clouds and turned into intermittent burning and cooling. Lunch was at 1pm and right on time like our lunch the rains came. Torrential rain created streams and creeks along the campsite fortunately not through our tents. We were so concerned that the game drive would be cancelled because of the rain. Luckily we still had 3 hours to pray. The rain only lasted an hour. Nick met a guy in the campsite who was travelling with his family. His camera collection was out of this world. I don’t remember the specific numbers and what not but one of his lenses was half my height, before it was unraveled. 

We were pumped this time for our game drive, Nick was the first one in the truck ready to go. His beaming face excited for what’s to come, and did we get a show. We had seen four of the big 5 we were just missing the leopard. We told the guy to take us straight to the leopard and don’t stop for any springbok. He laughed and said we will see what’s out there tonight. A four hour game drive we were sure to see something, you would hope. In the first 15 minutes of entering the national park we saw two leopards. 

South Luanga, Zambia

They were so incredibly close, if you stuck your arm out it would grab it. We followed the female to begin, apparently she was lactating which meant her cubs were around, if only we saw them. We watched her so intently for 20 minutes, dead silence only the sound of the camera shutter echoed the park. She was leaving her scent for the male. After she walked off into the distance we followed the male leopard. He wasn’t as close but you could still see the fine details of his spots. After an hour went past he wondered off, leaving us shell shocked in his past. I thought the night would have hit the climax there. Even our tour guide said in the 5 years she’s been doing this job that was the closest she’s ever experienced seeing wild leopards. We drove another 5 minutes where what we saw left our tour guide saying, “are you fucking kidding me” in utter surprise wild spotted dogs ran past our truck.

South Luanga, Zambia

 These animals are incredibly hard to find as they continuously move. We followed them for 10 minutes. They are the best hunters in the kingdom as they move in packs. The night flowed on from here seeing animals every direction you turned. We saw an elephant, two lions, hippos, crocodiles, camillion, Elephant mouse and zebras. I couldn’t have asked for a better game drive and we were sad that the other half of the group missed out on the leopard. One of the best moments (apart from the leopards) was when night fell and the lion walked straight past our truck staring eye to eye with only half a metre between us. My heart stopped and I forgot to breath, because it was as if it knew if it wanted to it could kill us all with its snickering eyes following our every move. What a perfect way to say goodbye to Zambia.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

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