Ahh Zimbabwe, how I’ve missed you and your corrupted government, lead by Mr Soulpatch himself, Robert Gabriel Mugabe. We were dropped off at the Zambian border and after a quick exit we walked about 2 kilometers through no mans land, over the bridge connecting Zambia and Zimbabwe and over the Zambezi river as well before we were greeted by a customs official who looked about as interested in his job as a gay guy in a lesbian porn video.
$50 later we were granted entry into Zimbabwe, more specifically Victoria Falls. We took a taxi to our campsite and paid for a tent with twin beds.
I found that to be a nice change from the air mattress and it was a comfortable bed as well.
We spent the day relaxing and sussing out the prices for all the different activities to do in Victoria Falls (there’s a lot of them).
Having woken up early, we had an early dinner of which I had the Impala Steak (not very nice) and Danni had the Warthog steak (very nice) before heading to our tent.
The next day we decided on the activities we wanted to do and negotiated the best prices for them before we relaxed, had some lunch (Danni had a Wildebeest hot dog and I had a similar game hot dog but I can’t remember the animal it was. Regardless it was very nice) while we waited for our tour group to arrive.
After they did arrive and we set up our tent, we got some washing done before we were assaulted by some sugared-up baboons who were trying to steal our food (and stole 2 lollypops from our bag). They continued to annoy us, one even charging Danni in an example of alpha maleness. It was actually a bit scary because there was no way of knowing how they were going to act.
The baboons and monkeys are pests in the campsite, the baboons especially because they know to tip the metal container over to get to the bin inside, it’s actually quite fascinating to see them and how they’ve worked it out.
That night most of the group and the tour guide, cook and driver all went to a restaurant called The Boma. That place was awesome.
It’s a buffet restaurant and they cook the food in front of you as you select it. There is a massive variety of foods, including the soups, salads and starters (I had a Guinea Fowl, tastes like a dry chicken) before you get to the pig out menu of mains. There was Boerwors (some kind of sausage), Warthogs steak in some sort of marinade (delicious), Eland Balls (not testes! They were ok, a bit spicy), pork sausage wrapped in bacon, and a whole bunch of different chicken. They also had a challenge where you would get a certificate if you ate a Mopani worm.
I certainly ate it. It really had no taste to it, it was actually dry, like eating beef jerky I guess.
During dinner we were treated to traditional African drumming and even had the customers involved. It was really an amazing experience.
The next day was the one I’d been waiting for: White Water Rafting.
The second time I have done Rafting on the Zambezi and it was just as awesome as I remembered. We went with a different company this time (Shockwave) and it was only the five of us from our tour group who went.
We were picked up and taken to their office and given the down low on safety, putting on helmets and safety jackets and all that fun stuff. We also met our Raft Guide – Wilson.
He was awesome, very funny guy who clearly didn’t take anything seriously, but clearly knew how to raft.
Once we were done with the formalities we jumped in the car and took a short journey to the starting point…well the top of the starting point because you have to walk down the gorge to get to the river and the rafting meeting point.
After about 20 minutes of walking down some suspect ladders and routes we arrived and got in our raft.
We went through the basics, how to get in if you fall out, flipping the boat over, etc. We also got a great view of the waterfalls as well.
The rafting itself is 19 rapids over 25kms, thankfully following the current so not as much actual rafting as there was on the Nile, and it consists of mostly grade 4 and 5 rapids, with one grade 6 that you have to walk around.
As with the Nile rafting, it is hard to go into details about White Water Rafting suffice to say it was amazing, we did not flip at all and only one person in our raft was washed out of the boat. The incredible thing about it was that the rapids were tough, especially the grade 5’s, we were battered every which way and even got airborne and vertical but we still held on and kept the raft upright (I did get thrown around a bit, sitting in the front) and survived some that others didn’t all the while we were told twice to get down, all the others we were expected to keep paddling through the rapids.
Once we hit rapid 19 it was time to finish up and do the worst part of the activity: Climb up the friggin gorge.
Climbing up the gorge of the Zambezi River is what I imagine towing a truck by your balls feels like. It’s tough, it hurts and it feels like you’ll never stop. But we persevered and I was one of the first to make it to the top and had downed 3 drinks by the time the others made it.
Danni and I knew what to expect as we had done this before, but there is no way to prepare anyone else for this experience. You simply cannot describe what it is like in a way to make someone realize how friggin hard it is.
We said goodbye to our tour guide and promptly wished we were dead. Legs were very sore indeed.
That night we met the new tour guide and driver (the cook was visiting family), as well as some of the new people we would be travelling with over the next 3 weeks. There are still 5 of us from the original tour going all the way to Cape Town so it is nice to not have to get to know everyone on the trip.
I haven’t formed a judgment on the new people or the guide and driver, though they are very much the beer-drinking types who want to drink every night. Not that it really bothers me as long as they aren’t annoying or obnoxious about it. Or they don’t take all the space in the cooler for their beer while my drink gets boiling hot.
Yes, the next couple of weeks should be interesting indeed.
Day three of our challenge to Mother Nature was a cage dive with crocodiles. Much like Devil’s Pool and Rafting this was an incredible experience, but in a different way.
We arrived and got into the cage that was suspended above the Croc pool and were lowered down into the cool, green water. (although the croc wanted to lay where we were meant to land so the Divemaster had to poke it with a stick to get it to move).
There we were able to watch the croc watch us, climb on the cage and be fed food on a stick by the divemaster. The croc was a female, about 26 years old, missing some teeth and over 2 meters long, great with kids. It was fascinating to watch her probe and prod the cage and when she climbed on the cage, her foot would fall through and we could touch her. Surprisingly, their feet are really soft. Danni also got to touch her belly.
They had an extension on the cage where you could stick your head through when the croc was on top to get a closer look at them. It was there I realized how scary they look, also how similar they look to dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. She would bite the cage trying to get food and look at me with eyes that are expressionless when she rested on the cage for a little bit.
It is not hard to imagine why they have survived for millions of years. They are big, bad and scary to be around.
We relaxed for the rest of the day, it was incredibly hot so we tried to stay in the shade, or find a place with air-conditioning before we had our last dinner as a group (Pizza. So classy) as the next day we would go our separate ways, though most of us going to Chobe National Park in Botswana.