“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Day 10 - Walking in Dr. Livingstone's footsteps

Stunning breakfast by the river at Waterberry lodge. Really don't want to leave this place, the people are so special and caring as well as humble, funny and incredibly kind. We left at 930am with our dedicated driver for the day, Bonface, and headed off to the Royal Livingstone hotel for a tour of Livi island and the falls. As we walked through the hotel reception and out onto the lawn, we were feeling a little uncomfortable - it's a five star hotel with lots of rich business types swanning around, all dressed in their finery, and mingling like a royal garden party. We, on the other hand, were not. The hotel was nowhere near as charming as our Waterberry, but the view out over the Zambezi river was spectacular. Bonface took us down to the boat jetty, where we once again signed our indemnities and listened to a brief safety talk from one of the boatmen. Lifejackets on, and seated at the back of a small motorboat, we zoomed over the river on a 5 minute ride to the island where two more guides were waiting for us with a strange banana-based local drink.
ready for a dip in the Angel's pool
Sir David Livingstone discovered the falls over 150 years ago and has a plaque in honour of the discovery with his famous words; "Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight" inscribed around the outside. It's easy to see how he came to this conclusion - it's quite literally break-taking. After a short walk through the forest that covers the island we both stood clutching each other at the lip of the falls, marvelling at the double rainbows that span the spray. We felt fear, we felt exhilaration, but most of all... we felt insignificant and humble; Gaia certainly excelled herself when she forged Batoka gorge and created the most powerful waterfall in the world.
We stripped down to our pants and vests and gingerly stepped down into the water on the edge of the drop; a spot called Angel's pool. It was a little chilly, but refreshing.
After our quick dip, more photos were taken and towels provided, before we were shown to a tent for our second luxury breakfast of the day. We sat next to a couple of guys from Portsmouth who work for a teaching charity in Lusaka. They were on a tourist weekend to the falls and equally as affected by the experience as we were.
Stuffed and still sat in soggy pants, we took the boat back to the hotel where Bonface was waiting with our dry clothes and we set off for Marumba local market in Livingstone town. Another eye-opener… all locals dry their fish in Zambia to ensure it keeps for longer, as most homes are without fridges. Soap is made in long slabs and people buy a slice, sized according to their budget. Coffee and sugar is sold the same way and measured from a large bag. Small bags of coffee, sufficient for just 2 cups are stacked on racks for people to buy. Coloured powder is used for polishing the floors of their homes and there are endless stalls of second hand westerners clothes and shoes. We bought Chitenga material to take home before we left and I was once again glad for having a blocked nose… the clouds of flies around the fish stalls were unbearable.
The plan was to go to Olga’s for lunch, but since we were both still too stuffed from our double breakfast to eat any more, we sat in the garden with beer and let Bonface have our pizza as a take out for his dinner. He was beaming.
The afternoon was spent at an elephant centre learning all about the gentle giants on an hour long safari further out in the park. All the Eles were either orphaned or found. I was riding Sekouti (meaning chief). He is 8 years old and was found on an island in the middle of the river as a tiny baby. They believe his family reached the safety of the far bank when crossing the river and assumed he had drowned. Tracey was riding Marula, he was orphaned as a result of a culling many years ago and the people responsible didn’t feel able to kill such a tiny baby, so they bottled-reared him instead and he ended up at the centre. The 10 elephants resident at the centre will unfortunately never be able to roam free given their sad start in life, but one of them was once kidnapped by a passing wild bachelor group when she was in oestrous, but she returned some 8 months later on her own - much to the relief of the handlers.
When we eventually got back to Waterberry, we chilled with beer before dinner on the decking and then red wine round the campfire chatting with our guide Webster. Our waiter, Wilson, did a cracking job of topping up our glasses til long into the evening. What an unforgettable day.

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