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Alicia & Rich's Roads to Everywhere London to Australia on the route less traveled

Victoria Falls

ZAMBIA | Saturday, 29 November 2008 | Views [1297]

Our first day in Livingstone and we go straight to the main event: Victoria Falls. Fawlty Towers (our hostel and home for the next four days) offers a free shuttle bus to the Falls every morning. The "bus" is actually a really cool open safari truck so the drive is an experience in itself - similar I would guess to sitting in a wind tunnel. We get dropped off just by the entrance, where we're faced with three paths. All lead to the Falls, but some are more challenging than others. We decide to ease our way into the day with a nice leisurely stroll. Afterall, there's no point in tiring yourself out too early.

The path leads us down a mountain/hill opposite the Falls, with panoramic viewpoints along the way. There's some water pouring over but not as much as we'd expected (and hoped for). This is actually not the best time to come here as the rainy season is only just beginning so it is still relatively dry. Nevertheless, we carry on and come across the bridge that is now famous for bungee jumping. We watch a nutter make his jump - he survives. We follow the path which circles round and ends up back where we started.

We go straight on to a different path. This one leads you along the Falls itself. Cool. As I said though, the water level is low so we're able to pick our way across the rocks, keeping our feet mainly dry in the process. Walking across this side gives us an opportunity to go right up to the edge and look over, getting the same view as the cascading water. There's also a lake-like pool here called the Devil's Pool. It normally goes right up to the edge and people swim in it but don't (often) get sucked over. Unfortunately, because the water level is low, the pool is set back a bit from the edge, which kind of takes the wow factor out of this particular sight. The area is huge though and we end up walking for about 45 minutes before we come to a restricted conservation area.

As we turn around and come back it quickly becomes clear that the water level is higher than it was on the way out. In fact it's now so high we can't go back the same way we came. As always, fear is not an option and we face the considerable danger with an air of invincibility. Clearly it'll take more than a few million gallons of water to worry these intrepid explorers. The main obstacle to overcome turns out to be a ledge that we have to walk across with a guide. Although it sounds easy, the ledge is about 100m long, only 5 inches wide and made of rough concrete. On top of that, you can't wear your flipflops as it's under two feet of rushing water (with a drop either side). Add to this the fact you're carrying hundreds of pounds worth of camera equipment, so falling in is not an option. Also if you do fall in, there is a chance of being swept over the falls. Not so easy now huh?

We later find out that the reason the water level rose so quickly was because they opened the flood gates (which I had always thought was just an expression). That would explain the warning sirens we heard while strolling along... We were lucky though, as when we made it back to the other side, the view of the falls was magnificent; with tons of rushing water coming over the sides.

We spent the rest of the afternoon eating and drinking in Livingstone town with an Australian couple we met; Adam and Sally. They'd just been studying in South Africa for a few months and were able to give us a bit of an insight into what to expect from that part of our trip. Not a bad day at all.


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