John and Gerry in Zimbabwe


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victoria falls from zimbabwe side 2002

Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe side

For one reason or another, we lingered on in Livingstone on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls for almost a week. My apologies firstly for not having responded to any of my e-mail as one of the things we did during our sojourn there was to look at our internet site and for me to check my e-mail, something I had never done in my life and wished now that I hadn't as I hate writing and can't see how to get around to answering it all.. For the moment this report will have to suffice as a reply to anyone who contacted me and has not yet given up in disgust at my seeming indifference. I feel especially bad about the fact that children of friends, Morgan, Sarah and Ellen as well as my past pupils from the Gaelscoil have been following our progress and must not understand why I haven't replied. I'm afraid I'm totally illiterate with regards to computers and even these reports I handwrite and leave into the Internet cafes for someone to type, which explains for some of the miss prints in them from time to time. Indeed being truthful much of my delay with the computers such as not sending a report till I reached Nairobi is due not just to my dislike of them, but also my ambivalence towards writing about the trip at all as I tend to absorb experiences and am not particularly concerned about communicating them. Obviously too, one aspect of going on a trip such as this is about going away and the task of reporting back intrudes upon it's purpose though I do recognise also that in some way we carry the dreams and aspirations of others and perhaps there's a duty towards Alex who I now see has put so much work into the site as well as the need to give a certain context to John's excellent photographs.

prepairing for take off victoria falls

Preparing for take off Victoria Falls
microlighting over victoria falls

Microlighting over Victoria Falls

So then after all that procrastination when last we reported, I was about to take a microlite over Victoria Falls. In Kenya and Central Africa the white man is known as the "wazunga" though I believe it's not actually a Swahili word per se instead coming from the Arabic root zungu meaning to "travel about" which doubly describes us two paddies though I think the most accurate translation from the black man's perspective would be A.T.M machine emblazed in bright neon lights across the forehead. Consequently there is a bewildering choice of novel and adventurous ways to experience the Falls and drain the hole in the wall though ironically all these various options are invariably owned by the self same wazungu, which is a very telling insight into Africa. At any rate among this plethora of choice I reasoned that the best way to see Victoria Falls was the said microlight. Though I'm petrified of heights paradoxically I have considered getting into microlight flying and felt this would be a good way to test the water as it were. Taking off and landing, it felt as stable as any plane I've been in but there is certainly a feeling of exposure once up in the air, which has the bonus of giving you a great vantage point. It flew higher than I expected, up to 1,500 feet above the falls and was a brilliant way to see this magnificent phenomenon though being truthful I felt more comfortable as we flew lower to view the elephants and rhino etc.along the Zambezi. All told though it was a great experience and when I returned John decided he would also do it which necessitated us staying another day as the flights were all pre-booked that evening. The conditions for John's flight were a little windier so I was glad I went up in such calm conditions or at least such calm weather. After John's flight we went for a cruise on "The African Queen" along the Zambezi. It was one of those food, drink cruises and looking along the shoreline with rhino and giraffe in among the bush you could imagine yourself on the set of the Eponymos film. In all it was a very relaxing evening as was all our time in Livingstone. Livingstone is on the Zambian side of the Falls and is considered the poor relation of "The mist that thunders" from the point of viewing it.

looking up the gorge victoria falls 2002

Looking up the gorge Victoria Falls
aboard the africian queen up the zambezi river

Aboard the Africian Queen up the Zambezi river

victoria falls from zimbabwe side

Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe side

Having spent another of our days there looking at it from the Zimbabwean side we felt that Livingstone was the better place to be. Indeed we got a second chance to experience it from the Zimbabwean side the day we left Livingstone as we covered the shortest distance of our trip that day covering only some 15km's as a we stopped on the other side of the border in the town of Victoria Falls. Having learned from our experience of going too far the day we crossed the border into Malawi, we decided that stopping in Victoria Falls was the best option on this occasion. At present Zimbabwe, because of International sanctions, is crippled by fuel and food shortages, though by filling in Zambia our 43 litre tanks would theoretically see us through the country. The first obvious place to stop however was Bulawayo and as that was over 400km inside the country we felt that with the time it would take to get through customs coupled to the distance that it could potentially leave us driving at night again. Consequently we decided that we'd have a relaxing morning in Livingstone and just cross the border to Vic Falls as we know that there was good accommodation there, something we were not sure of further along the road towards Bulawayo. Zimbabwe proved to be the cheapest country we have visited in all of Africa. In contrast to Livingstone, which is not overly developed yet and still retains some of its charm as the former capital of Northern Rhodesia, Victoria Falls is far more modern and tourist orientated with an obviously more affluent clientele who come from all over the world to this famous destination. The town itself is far more modern in appearance than its counterpart on the other side and the hotels, shops and cafes are quite westernised. We stayed in an upmarket suburb of the town in Syringa Lodge, which was run by a woman for her sister who was Ambassador to Sweden. The accommodation was excellent with a swimming pool, beautiful grounds and an excellent breakfast as good as any grade A hotel, yet only cost us 3UD dollars each!! Certainly it makes camping, which we haven't done to date seem an unnecessary option. This cheap cost and outstanding accommodation was also the case in Bulawayo. There in Musketeers Lodge, they wanted 70 US dollars each, as there is a price for tourists and other for residents of the country. When we told them we were not carrying dollars, however we got the lodgings with breakfast for the local rate of 7US dollars i.e. 3.50 each. Leaving Victoria Falls for Bulawayo, reminded me of driving thru' the Phoenix Park with mile after mile of straight road and wooded reserve set back some 30 yards from its edge. Bulawayo is for all the world like a mid- west American town of the 50's with low rise buildings and countless junctions as it's laid out in a grid pattern. Though Zimbabwe was undoubtedly cheap we did not linger long there. Crossing it reminded me of Zambia with its rolling hills covered in trees though wherever the reserves ended you could see the pressure for firewood by the population, was turning the landscape into a sandy wasteland with sparse vegetation.


Victoria Falls

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