Friday, July 20, 2012

Victoria Falls - Wonder of the World................


.........and an unexpected surprise!

Two years ago I took the above photo when flying into Livingstone, Zambia. At that time commercial flights - they are usually small planes as was ours - were permitted to fly over Victoria Falls prior to landing at both Vic Falls and Livingstone airports. It was exciting to take aerial pics and made it unnecessary to take an additional expensive 'sightseeing' flight. That's changed now because commercial flights must circumvent the Falls for the safety of sightseeing helicopters and microlights.

The mile-wide sheet of water was almost as heavy this trip as in 2010 so what we saw was about the same - the vapor being a bit lower but still visible 7 miles up river where our camp was located. This diagram is basically how we viewed the Falls last month. They drop 338 feet into the Zambezi Gorge, making this the most expansive curtain of water in the world. One of the seven Natural Wonders of the World, and straddling the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, both countries share UNESCO World Heritage status.

It's quite difficult to get really good photos when wrapped in ponchos, cameras in protective bags. The thundering noise is deafening, and the windblown spray often blocks clear views.......but it is breathtaking!

Fortunately there were moments when the spray was lighter, the cameras came out, the hoods were thrown off, and everyone was snapping like fools! 
Kim, Bob, me, Mark and Paula
We loved the visit on the Zimbabwe side of the falls 
where the views are definitely the best. 
This photo shows Livingstone Island (trees left of center) which played a major role in the history of Zambia.  David Livingstone, British missionary/explorer, viewed the Mosi-Oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders) from this island on November 16, 1855 with the help of local tribesmen using dugout canoes. He later named the waterfall, Victoria Falls, after Queen Victoria.

Anyone for afternoon tea?
The next day this is what we did.
The small boat arrived to take us the short distance down the Zambezi River to Livingstone Island - the trees of which are on the left above.
Arriving at the island we were told to remove shoes and roll up pants, put on a poncho, and advised the mud - which was ankle deep and slimy - and the rocks we'd be walking across would be slippery. No lie, they were! 
And to think, there I was concerned earlier that I wasn't 
dressed properly for afternoon tea......I needn't 
have worried at all. 
Two lovely tents were set up for tea - close to the Horseshoe Falls section of the waterfall - but first we had walk to the brink! Squelching through the mud, gingerly stepping over the big wet, slippery rocks, trying once again to keep cameras dry and stand up straight in the heavy wet ponchos. Yes, the rainbow was gorgeous, looking over the edge was exciting, seeing the lovely medallion with David Livingstone eyeing a bunch of fools silly tourists perhaps heading to their deaths was OK too..........
........and you know we now have a little something extra special to add to the list when we're bragging telling about our travels to friends anyone who wants to listen! We really don't brag but admit to getting very excited when sharing stories of these great places around the world.
  
Our barefooted group 'on the edge' - Paula, Kim, me, Bob, Mark.........yes it was wet and wild, with thundering noise from the water.
The Zambezi River going over Victoria Falls - taken 
from Livingstone Island.
Photo of us by Paula.....we're looking totally stupid, definitely close enough to the edge. For some strange reason I just couldn't bring myself to step back a few paces......and it wasn't 'til right now I see Bob is clinging to my hand, ha! ha!
Back to the tea tent where a lovely spread was awaiting, including a great pot of tea, but in all honesty a brandy might have hit the spot!
What about our muddy feet and legs you may ask.
Jeremiah our guide to the rescue.......

....complete with warm water and towels. Here he's washing my dirty feet, the feet that took me on that precarious walk to the brink of the mighty Victoria Falls.  
It was fun and probably safer than some other attractions, such as swimming in the Devil's Pool a little further along the edge when the water is lower and slower, or bungee jumping from the bridge.
 As the sun went down the boat returned us to shore and we enjoyed watching the sun set over the river and falls from the deck of the Royal Livingstone Hotel.

It really was an awesome time and a memorable experience.

18 comments:

  1. Again one very lucky, lovely lady!!! Great photographs. Thank you for sharing. Have a good weekend, Jackie in Surrey, UK.x

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  2. Wow! I am so glad you had time to post this Mary. Thank you.

    What a treat! I think, I'd be clinging to your other hand had I been there! But how amazing and unforgettable too. The falls are just so magnificent aren't they?
    You are so lucky, and I agree a stiff drink would have been a good option for afternoon tea. :)What a wonderful location for your camp, being able to see the 'smoke'.

    When I went to Zambia in 2005, I went up in a Tiger Moth over the Falls. The most terrifying and exhilarating thing I've ever done! Being in an open cockpit gave an unbelievable view. I took some great photos but I was very worried about dropping the camera.

    I'm not sure if the helicopter ride will live up to the Tiger Moth but I AM SO LOOKING forward to it.

    Sft x

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  3. Amazing is all I can say Mary. Just amazing.
    Hugs, Penny

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  4. My heart did a little flip at the thought of how close to the edge you were. I'm definitely a chicken when it comes to heights and 'edges'. You are brave!
    What an experience it must have been, Mary. We grew up on the stories of the explorers Livingston and Stanley. How exciting it must have been to stand where they'd been (and then to drink tea!)

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  5. Breath taking all around and oh how that foot washing must have felt afterward....

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  6. Definitely awesome!!!!!! Oh would I have loved to have tea here. You were brave to be so close to the edge. That would have made me weak in the knees. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing this very special experience.

    BTW: You are my winner today. Need your address to send you the once read book.

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  7. How could you ever want to come home after that experience. An incredible set of photographs again Mary. I love your zest for life, so refeshing.
    Do the falls have their own specific eco system? I would imagine you'd have to be a tough plant or creature to live there.

    Paul

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  8. Mary, all your travel posts have been so awesome. I can't believe that island is right in the middle of all that water near the falls. Incredible! Have a fabulous weekend. Tammy

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  9. Mary, this is astonishingly beautiful! Those falls almost seem to swallow one up! Thanks for sharing!

    Smiles, Karen
    Idaho

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  10. What an utterly fantastic experience! You're living life to the full!

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  11. Oh, my, these accounts get more and more incredible. What an adventure. I can imagine the adrenaline was racing. ;-)
    Can you top this one???
    Hugs ~ Sarah

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  12. Brag away, dear girl, brag away! This was an awesome adventure for you all (and I do not use the word lightly).
    As Captain Kirk once said ....to boldly go......thanks for going there and taking us to the edge with you.

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  13. Mary I am stunned, this must have been an absolutely incredible experience! You're so brave, I'm not sure I would have had the courage to venture so close to the edge. Those sunset images at the end are also so lovely, what a beautiful day you had x

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  14. Un viaje precioso, impresionantes fotografias. me han encantado!!!!!

    Un abrazo muy cariñoso.

    Manoli

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  15. More amazing photos! What an incredible place...I would love to stand so near the brink of those magnificent falls! Wow! Thanks for your email about the sink. The entire trip had to be breath-taking!

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  16. I have been to Victoria falls and it's ones in a lifetime experience. I simply fell in love and thinking of visiting again.

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  17. You seem to enjoyed a lot. The pictures are great :D

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  18. That is just totally cool! I saw where Bob was holding you hand extra tight! If you go he goes! Hugs to you both.
    ULrike

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