Thursday, January 7, 2016

YOLO at Vic Falls, Dec 2015

We took a day tour from Kasane, Botswana into Zimbabwe to see the Victoria Falls.  We didn't want to drive in Zimbabwe, but we were willing to have a driver take us here on an arranged tour.  He waited while we got our one-day visas and drove us the 45 minutes to get to the Falls.  He and Jason talked politics most of the way.    His classic line, "We have freedom of speech.  We just don't have freedom after speech."

Karen at the entrance to the park.  It is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Jason at the entrance, next to the carved railings.
The Seven Natural Wonders of the World.   And we are at one of them.

A good description of the rivers of Africa and how they flow.  The Zambezi River is the source of the water in these falls.

A full burka on this Muslim woman visitor.

An elephant skull.

Our first view of the falls, near the Devil's Cataract.

The gorge looking down from the waterfall above.

Jonathan Livingstone statue.

The dugout canoe next to the statue.  Perhaps it was the one he used?

The thorns on this tree aren't inviting.

The river just above the falls.  It looks placid enough....

Jason at the fence above the headwaters.

Looking through the fence.  Lots of birds enjoying the calm river waters and shallow islands of rock.

Water tumbling over the edge on the left begins the falls.  There are 16 viewing spots along the falls here.

The gorge the water flows into after it plunges over the edge.

Looking up the crack in the wall that makes the Devil's Cataract.  In times of high water flow, the water is filling this cavern, too.  Some experts expect that this wall of rock will be the next to fall and change the start of the falls again.  Blocks of the basalt rock have been falling away for millions of years, moving the start of the falls back farther each time.

Waterfall with spray

Karen at the Livingstone statue.

Jason playing on the low vines.

The start of the majestic falls.

Looking further down the cliff to more falls.  You can see how the spray clouds the view.  And this is with very low water flow because of the drought.  When the water is really flowing with high water, the mist blocks some of the view altogether.

Water plunging into a pool below the falls at Devil's Cataract.

The dry cliff wall of Victoria Falls.  It's only dry because of the drought.  Normally, water would flow over all this are.

Another part of the falls farther down.

Another plunge pool.

Karen at Victoria Falls.

A nice ribbon of falls.

The greenery along the walkway is quite lush.

A twisted fallen tree over the walkway is left as it fell. 
A distant view of the falls.  Such power in that water.

You can see the spume of spray rising up. 

Jason with binoculars.

A dry section of the wall.  There is actually a person there on the right in white.  He was laying out things to dry.  You can spend the night at a cabin on that cliff.

A view of the dry wall/cliff that many folks never get to see.  This is record low water flow and the falls are still fantastic to view.

Waterfalls are wonderful.

Looking down at the tiny pool of water at the bottom of the dry cliff.  Horseshoe Falls is the dry cliff here.

Looking down the gorge where the water would flow.  Now it's just a trickle through a few green pools.

Another look down the gorge.

Karen on the edge of the cliff.  Next step is hundreds of feet down.  No fences.

One more step and I would be down in this.

A close up of the swirling green waters.  The bubbles and foam make it look like a slab of green marble.

The green stuff floating on the water below slowly churns its way out and down the river.

Looking down the falls to the Zambia side of the falls.  Not much water flowing there.

Jason and Karen in front of Horseshoe Falls, the dry cliff of rock that is normally a great waterfall.

Just before the river takes a bend, the water smoothed out and looked like green fudge.  A life raft is tethered to the rock face there for the rescue of white water rafters, should the need arise.

Pools of water in the gorge.
Looking back up the gorge where the water is flowing more.

This is where the kayakers enter the water, over by that trickle on the rocks.  There are several in this photo, but they look so small, you probably can't spot them there.  They look like tiny red or white dots here.

The bridge over the Zambezi River at Victoria Falls.  This was an engineering marvel to complete in just 14 months of construction back in 1902.  A small room with posters of old newspaper photos and accounts of the day is on the other side.  The other side is Zambia.  We got permission to go have a look without getting our passports stamped.
There is wildlife even inside the Vic Falls park.  Here an impala or similar animal is hiding in the grass near the bridge.

And a colorful little blossom on the ground adds some variety to the scenery.

A nyala or some ....bok eating in the park.

Plaque on the bridge.

Crossing the bridge to Zambia from Zimbabwe.  The hawkers latch onto you and walk the entire way trying to sell you something.  If that fails, they resort to the "please give me money for lunch" routine.

Looking down from the bridge to one of the turns in the river below.

Jason entering Zambia.

A different view of the Zambezi river from the Zambia side.

The bungee jumping station.  Nobody was using the bungee, zip lines, or giant swing while we were there.

The river beyond the falls.  Above is the famous Victoria Falls Hotel.

The bridge is over a 100 years old.  And it is now being maintained (or not) by folks in Zimbabwe and/or Zambia.  One person told me their guide warned them that if they saw a train coming to RUN! The bridge shakes dramatically when a train crosses it.  And they worry about more than one car?

People, cars and a train all share the bridge.

We came back across to Zimbabwe and then left that country to go back to Botswana.  Three countries in one day.

Jason in front of another of those cool baobab trees in the town by Victoria Falls.

A man with a whole lot full of carved statues for sale.

The lizard in the bowl was trying desperately to get out, but the bowl was so smoothly polished that the lizard looked like he was swimming in place.  It was pretty funny to watch for the few minutes it took before he actually escaped.  The bowls could be had for as little as $1 each if you held out on the hawkers.  They are desperate for US Dollars as that is now the currency in Zimbabwe.  If only I had room for such stuff. Instead I bought five currency notes from the 2008 super-inflation period.  They range from 20,000,000 to 50,000,000,000.  That's twenty million dollars to fifty billion dollar notes.  Hardly room on the paper for all those zeroes!  They're worthless now except as a souvenir, but I can now say I'm a billionaire!

The crossing back from Zimbabwe into Botswana.

For people and cars, the crossing is not too bad.  But trucks are a different story altogether.  We saw this truck on the other side with all its furniture and stuff from inside out on the side of the road. There's even a vehicle in there. He must've come up with the Customs fees due since he's now on this side, but truckers we talked to said the wait can be 26 hours to two weeks, depending on what they are carrying and who got paid off.  And there are no accommodations or restaurants or toilet/shower facilities at the border.  The line of trucks waiting for clearance went for miles.

We were glad we went to see Victoria Falls, but we were glad to be back in Botswana with its stable government and low crime. 

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