Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Mosi-ao-Tunya : Smoke that Thunders

I'm here. I'm alive. I'm so burnt (skin is red).

Though I've been lucky to flirt my way into free internet service the last two days, I probably won't have that much luck as I think they are catching on. Internet is expensive, limited, and dial up (GAH) so I'll update more when I get home.

After our sleep filled stop in Jo-burg, we got up early to ensure that we got on the plane to Livingstone. After finally deciphering the reader boards – which was embarrassing to say the least – we were in! with 2 hours to spare. Thank goodness for duty free shopping.

On the plane, the pilot said that it was such a great day that they would fly over the falls. It was amazing to say the least – even with the plane's engine in the way of my shots.

victoria falls from the plane | 04.06.08

Upon arrival, our airport transfer drove closer and closer to the falls – you could tell because the spray from the falls was over 500 meters high and you couldn't miss it. Ends up, our hotel is located a five minute walk from the falls, and is in the Mosi-ao-Tunya World Heritage Natural
Wildlife Park.

Because of this, we have crocodiles, monkeys, giraffes, impala and zebras roaming around on the grounds of the hotel. Let me repeat that, there are animals roaming freely on the grounds of the hotel - near leah. If you know me and my sister, this is just funny.

BAD monkey! eating sugar packets | 04.07.08 | livingstone, zambia

The monkeys are ridiculous. During meal times – everything is open air here – they hover over the dining tables and jump on tables grabbing food and sugar packets. They're a little manic – probably because they eat sugar packets – and are not totally scared of being near people. I'm not a fan; in fact, I'm downright scared. It's the running joke amongst my friends. Obviously, they didn't see Outbreak.

Of course, the first night here, I went to take a walk, and stepped out side our building to find a zebra's butt outside the hall door. The herd had wandered from the other parts of the property was munching on the short grass near the pool/restaurant. The zebras aren't tame by any means, so it's always fun negotiating a safe path to walk around them.

After my photo shoot with the zebras, we ended up at the Royal Livingstone our first night, having wine on deck on the Zambezi River, listening to traditional drumming and singing.

Yesterday morning, I was antsy and decided to hit up Victoria Falls at 7:30 in the morning. I took the quick 7 minute hike and was amazed at how close I was to the falls. They say that to go see it, you either just go in your swimsuit because the spray is so great, that it's like it is raining. It is. Ponchos are useless and another tourist money making scheme here. The falls are ten times the size of Niagara Falls and you get completely soaked even though you are across the gorge. It's like walking through a car wash.

We spent the day relaxing and booking our activities for the week, including an elephant back safari, a Zambezi river cruise, and a jaunt into town. We also booked a segway tour of the property since it was so big and we wanted to get our bearings.

Our segway tour guide took us all around to find all the animals – didn't see any crocs or impalas this time around but we're here for a few more days. We spotted the zebras on the grounds of our sister hotel and some stupid tourist decided he would stand beside them. Consequently, he got a good, swift kick in the butt from a zebra. It was pretty funny. And a great story to tell. Though I'm not sure he'll be laughing today.

Since it is a park, there are paths through the bush, and it's there that we encountered the giraffes, about 5 feet away from us. I was so amazed, as it was almost surreal -- as if they were toys.

arson, our segway guide & geoffrey, the giraffe | 04.07.08 | mosi-o-tunya park

Afterwards, we had some close encounters with some monkeys during dinner, then walked back to Victoria Falls in the afternoon. But since it was getting dark, it was probably not safe to be outside, hiking on wet stone, in the woods.

This morning, we went to the falls again and were able to cross a bridge that crosses to another island. It was nuts. And very wet. But so much fun! I'm proud to say that I was a trooper and didn't succumb to the ponchos and went with the flow, taking pictures through a ziplock bag.

walking back to our hotel (via a bridge) from the eastern cataract of victoria falls

Ok, gotta go before they decide to charge me a gajillion dollars for this. We're hitting up town in an hour and going to see all that Livingstone has got to offer.

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