My writing includes my personal travel experiences, destination, history, and cultural information.
Traveling to South Africa had been a long, adventurous journey! The final leg of the trip took me to Zambia and Zimbabwe to see the magnificent Victoria Falls!
Spending 5 days in Zambia and one afternoon in Zimbabwe, this portion of the trip was more about relaxation than hurrying to see as much as you could. At least that's what I thought until I got to the Falls!
A Bit About Zambia
A landlocked country on the continent of Africa, Zambia is bordered by several other African nations. Being of tribal origin, for most of modern history, Zambia was governed by the British Monarchy and was referred to as Northern Rhodesia. Gaining its independence from the British in 1964, the country's name was changed to Zambia based on the "Great River". Upon independence, Prime Minister Kenneth Kaunda was elected as the first president. Until 1991, the country only recognized one political party. A political change came about, establishing multiple political parties and Kaunda was defeated by Frederick Chiluba. Since this time, the country has experienced a stable democracy, and today there are three official parties.
English is the official language of the Zambian government but there are seven other official languages: Bemba, Nyanja, Lozi, Tonga, Luvale, Lunda, and Kaonde. In actuality, there are 72 languages spoken in Zambia, many attributed to the local/regional native tribes.
Being mostly sparsely populated, the majority population is around the capital of Lusaka. Until independence in 1964, tribal people were not allowed to live in the city. Within the first year, the population more than doubled and today this city is thriving with many manufacturers, the industry of tourism, and hospitality. In fact, the highest amount of revenue from the country is derived from "walking safaris".
Arriving in Zambia
Flying out of Cape Town, we had an overnight in Johannesburg, South Africa. Then a mid-morning flight to Livingston, Zambia. After a relatively short ride from the airport, we arrived at the Royal Livingston Hotel.
Located on the banks of the Zambezi River, the hotel was built in the 1950s and renovated in 2001, keeping that retro feel and look. The property is part of a game preserve, so the animals roam freely.
Getting out of the car, you immediately could hear something which sounded similar to "white noise". What the heck was that? I learned the ever-present sound was the roar of Victoria Falls! OMG, what was I in for? This part of the trip was going to be more than I thought! It was explained by the hotel representative who was assigned to greet us, that the locals call Victoria Falls Mosi-oa-Tunya, or "Smoke That Thunders”. Once I walked the property and saw the mist, honing in on the sound, I thought his explanation was absolutely perfect; Smoke that Thunders!
The suite was ready and we were greeted by our personal butler. Wow! But, he had some words of advice. Words that proved to be very important. There were wild monkeys all about the property. Mischievous wild monkeys. We learned they weren't dangerous but they loved to play pranks and were likened to miniature thieves!
THE MISCHIEVOUS MONKEYS:
As we sat on our patio enjoying a finely brewed cup of coffee and biscotti, we found we had visitors! The monkeys, oh my god, the monkeys! You'd think after a 3-week safari and a bushwalk, I would be used to the monkeys. Right? But, once again the city girl betrayed herself! Abandoning my coffee and the biscotti, I ran inside, quickly closed the slider, and watched the monkeys pillage the table and run off with the can of biscotti! What was happening?
Visiting Victoria Falls
One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls is 1.8 kilometers wide and 300 feet tall spanning between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Supplying the entire area with electricity, the falling water is so powerful that marine life cannot survive below the Falls.
David Livingston searched his whole life looking for Victoria Falls. Not only was Livingston the first European to see the Falls, but he was also the first to travel the width of Africa. In 1855, upon finding them, he chose to name them after his Queen, Victoria. After all, she was the one who had commissioned the search and her name befit the discovery. During his stay in Zambia, he contracted Malaria and upon becoming ill, he refused to leave his newfound beloved country. In his honor, his heart and lungs are preserved in a Zambian museum and his body was sent back to England for burial.
VICTORIA FALLS, UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL:
The powerful water of the Victoria Falls sets a heavy mist, almost like an actual rain, into the air. Unless you want to get soaked to the bone, wearing a raincoat is a must. The roar is almost deafening.
We were lucky enough to actually have the opportunity to cross the Falls into Zimbabwe via a very long rope suspension bridge. Was that luck or a mission of possible suicide? The walking area of the bridge was made of wooden planks which were slippery not only from the water but from accumulated algae. Hells, bells, the Rhino in South Africa didn't get me, would I plummet to my death into a watery grave? I have to admit, crossing Victoria Falls on foot was an adventure and accomplishment worthy of a pat on the back! Spending the rest of the afternoon in Zimbabwe, we had a fabulous lunch, did some shopping, and basically got to say, we had been there. But, oh my gosh, we had to go back across that bridge! That was a tough realization!
The Next Few Days
Back at the hotel resting and relaxing, enjoying the pool was great and much needed. After three weeks of 3 AM wake-up calls, downtime was overdue! The last night was the only other scheduled event and that was to be a sunset cruise down the Zambezi River.
Strolling around the property was fun. As I said, the hotel was located on a game preserve so the animals roamed free. It was really cool, kind of a Doctor Dolittle feeling. I would venture to say, that although the animals are wild, I'm sure they are used to the guests roaming the property.
Boarding the African Queen (yes, kind of a cheesy name!), the food was wonderful and the scenery was spectacular! The sunset was magnificent. The cruise turned out to be like a game drive from the view of the Zambezi River. I guess I hadn't actually thought about seeing animals in their natural habitat from the boat.
The sunset seemed to last forever. The cruise returned to land shortly after what appeared to be the end of the sunset, but as we reached the hotel, the sun was still setting.
The End of the Trip Was Upon Me
The trip was coming to an end. That also meant only one more week of anti-malaria pills. ( you must take them for a few days once you have left the area). The flight home was going to be brutal, but well worth the experience and the memories.
Africa left me with a feeling of satisfaction, accomplishment, and blessed beyond belief. Realizing that a small percentage of people get the opportunity to visit this amazing continent warmed me for having the opportunity. Don't get me wrong, it was a rough trip; long flights, early mornings, late nights, living outside my city girl comfort zone. But at the same time, even as I sit here and write, it brings a smile to my face and I long for those amazing sunsets and giraffes that look at you in a way that makes you want to pinch their cute cheeks, the pristine air and even the roar of Victoria Falls.
Until next time friends, remember "To Travel is To Live!"
© 2022 Dee Nicolou Serkin