The road to Victoria Falls

The following blog is a recount of my time travelling from Namibia to Zimbabwe via Zambia to start my two-week overland truck tour.

3 August
After months and months of excitement about my overland truck holiday coming up, it was finally time!  Everything was packed and I said goodbye to all my CCF buddies with a little sadness but a lot of rush (the lady who was meant to be taking us in decided at the last minute to shunt our ride nearly 2 hours earlier!).  We arrived into Otji and hung out in Wimpy for a few hours before getting onto our chariot for the north: Intercape (not quite a chariot, more of a very normal-looking bus).  Very surprisingly, given its reputation, the bus actually arrived EARLY!  We found our seats and settled down.  All seemed to be going well until about midnight when there was a loud bang on the bus, which sounded like something hit the floor of the bus, and then it got quite cold.  It turned out that a rock had hit the window near the front of the bus, causing it to shatter!  We waited by the side of the road for an hour in the middle of nowhere in the pitch black whilst the driver tried to fix the cracks; at one point he came on board and shouted “Does anyone have any duct tape?”! Fortunately for us, one man came prepared and we were able to patch the massively splintered window up with trusty tape.  Onwards we went into the night, trying as we might to get any glimpse of sleep but mostly failing due to the sheer lack of space and uncomfortableness of the seats. 

4 August
At Katima Mulilo, the border stop in Namibia just before you hit Zambia, I met Rodgers from my Masters course at a random petrol station at 7 am.  A bizarre meeting indeed but very nice to catch up!  He was really hungover from out partying the night before – the same as I always remember him!  After a quick chat, the bus was ready to depart and off we headed on to Zambia.

The border post at Zambia is a rather odd place with absolutely no sights anywhere telling you what to do (apparently you have to get your passport stamped on one side of the border, walk about 500 m and then find a random building on the other side to get another stamp) so we followed two German dudes that sort of looked like they knew what they were doing.  All went well and we were able to pass easily through, although we learned an invaluable lesson: always carry a pen with you wherever you go in Africa, for they are extremely useful things.  We returned to our uncomfortable bus and travelled on through Zambia, stopping off briefly in Livingstone and arrived into Zim 4 hours later than expected.  Surprisingly, the border post in Zim was a million times easier to get through than what it was at Harare airport and the Customs officials were even FRIENDLY!  On the way to our hotel, we saw a herd of wild elephants on the roadside – very cool.  We got to the hotel just in time for our truck tour meeting and ended up inadvertently being upgraded from a chalet to a whole lodge!  We then met the rest of the people from our tour group, including 3 families.  I first thought that might be a bad thing but decided that it will probably be for the best being as they don’t want to party all night.

5 August
An early start (the shape of things to come) to take a horse riding safari into the bush near Vic Falls.  Arrived at the stables to be greeted by a rather fierce Rhodisian old white lady atop a horse who scowled down at us and said “I hear you are both experienced riders, but what do you mean by experienced?  How experienced?  Have you played polo?  Do you professional show jump?  Do you own your own horse?”.  Rather bewildered by this assault so early in the morning, I mumbled something about working at a horse sanctuary in Malta (totally forgetting that I’d trained Arabian horses in Oregon), which didn’t best please her.  “But that doesn’t count!  You can look after a poor horse but not RIDE one!”, so I retorted that I did know how to do dressage and jumping, which apparently appeased her.  We then found out that our guide used to work at Antelope Park so we had a big long chat about that place and about how na├»ve/stupid/selfish many  tourists are apparently in the name of conservation but really all the want to do is hug a cute animal. 
 Out on the ride we got to see lots of animals up close, such as bushbuck, waterbuck, impala, herds of buffalo (they really do look just like cows and were sat down chewing the cud), hippos in the river, a crocodile, a vampire bat (didn’t know they had them here!) and saw fresh tracks of spotted hyena and leopard!  I never really expected to see much on the ride so it was lovely to have such a diverse bunch.
Later that day we went on to Vic Falls National Park.  Only one word can describe this place: BEAUTIFUL!  It is such a spectacular place and I can really see why it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  We wandered along the whole length of the falls (there are many, not just one waterfall).  We got showered on by the falls, which was so refreshing and invigorating.  The air seemed so clean and cleansing.  We then walked through the rainforest and had loads of photo opportunities.  A very enjoyable place to visit and I really recommend it to anyone!

  Later that day, we booked a sunset river cruise.  Along with about 15 other people, we boarded the liner and were greeted with free drinks and snacks – great!  We saw some elephants, hippos, crocodiles and lots of birds.  It’s a shame I don’t drink alcohol as it was all free and there were a number of people on board (Americans, funnily enough….) who took full advantage of that! Watched another beautiful African sunset, although it seemed a little surreal as we sat there on the Zambezi with probably another 12 other boats, also with a big group of people on-board, in a not quite so personal experience.

Stay tuned for my next blog about my experiences of Botswana.


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