Time to get ready for the next trip, back to the mighty Zambezi river. Where my love affair with Africa first started over 20 years ago.
This time I have a new travelling companion, my good friend Tracey, a primary school teaching assistant and keen camper, also from Sussex who has never been to a third-world country and is incredibly excited to be able to not only see the difference, but make a difference too.
We set off at the end of next month for Zambia (via Johannesburg), arriving in the Southern city of Livingstone, for a week of volunteering with IVHQ. We are booked to work in an orphanage, but will of course go wherever we are most needed on arrival.
It will not only be my first time in the country, but also my first time volunteering in a city - I typically go out into remote villages to work, so I'm intrigued to see how different it will be.
Livingstone is 20 minutes from the famous Victoria Falls which are known by the locals as "mosi-o-tuna" (the smoke that thunders). The Zambezi river flows over the falls and plunges into Batoka gorge where it separates Zambia on one side and Zimbabwe on the other.
I toured Zimbabwe for the first time back in 1995 for 5 weeks with a friend. We borrowed her father's car, loaded it with a portable stove, a tent and a cool-box full of beers and set off southwards - madness - but incredible (apart from the bout of malaria of course!). I returned again in 1997 for another 3 weeks but sadly have never been back. This time, almost 20 years since the last, I will once again be standing at the edge of those falls marvelling at the power, the beauty and the noise of one of this planets greatest wonders and I can't wait. The spray from the falls creates a permanent lush rainforest and bird-life to rival that of the Amazon. The view from above is simply stunning as you see the path the falls have taken over thousands of years.
For our second week we plan to cross the bridge that spans the falls and separates the gorge and will spend some time on safari watching lions and elephants in Zimbabwe.... more VISAs!
“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