Monday, 29 January 2007

Dr. Livingstone I presume?

The plans to drive to Namibia were cancelled as B was needed at work this week. Instead I would have to fly to the capital myself to extend my visa. Of course all the last minute flights were booked on the days we wanted and it was looking rather dismil until I wondered to myself – what does African Jungle look like?

Enter Dr. David Livingstone.

I arrived in Zambia at lunchtime on Monday after flying through summer storms and over lush, fertile, tree covered land. I’d booked accommodation at Chanter’s Lodge which was very basic, but clean with friendly staff and good management.

Richard the owner of Chanter’s suggested an itinerary of walking around the Vic Falls, followed by lunch at one of the river side hotels and capped off with a Sunset Cruise.

It costs US$10 to enter the falls area and I followed each of the 3 walking trails as I had time to kill. I could hear Dad’s voice rousing me for wearing such a ridiculous outfit walking: knee length skirt, polo tee and thongs! But I wasn’t expecting walking so hadn’t packed anything else. I had to take it very slow in my thongs as I descended at least 150m though the palm trees and lantana bushes. I was heading to the Boiling Pot, the first of the rapids. At this time of year, when the river is at its highest, it’s so rough that even the white water rafting boats have to launch further down stream. I didn’t actually make it to the Boiling Pot because the path was being flooded by a fast running stream and I just thought it would be really dumb to get washed into the river. So instead I sat on one of the small bridges with my feet in the water and tried to recall whether flesh eating Piranhas were native to Africa or Latin America.

The best $2 I’ve ever spent was on hiring a raincoat. I wasn’t going to ‘waste’ the money, but when I saw they took Euros I thought – why not use my spare change?

Remember those old school cartoons where the little black rain cloud, isolated in the sky, floats over to directly above your head and then just pours down? Well its not make-believe. The most ridiculous hiking outfit just became the best! I stood there on the middle of the viewing bridge for over half an hour, like a child playing in puddles. I alternated between euphoric pleasure from being surrounded by rainbows and giggles at all the wet Englishmen in their soaked runners and ‘water proof’ rain jackets.

Activity 2 was lunch. Entry to the park allows you to visit the two main hotel properties, so off I went. The orange faux Morrocan style of the Zambezi Sun kept me walking to the famous Royal Livingstone. This place actualizes every Out-Of-Africa, Safari dream you’re ever had. I was in heaven and could only begin to image how exotic it must be for those tourists on their first trip to Africa. Rolling green lawns leading down to the wide, fast flowing Zambezi (pronounced; Zam-bear-ze). Zebras wandered between the groves of trees which were dotted with outdoor loungers and hammocks.

Spot the Zebra

After finishing my Frangelico & Lime on ice and the weekend’s New York Times I pulled myself of the most scrumptious couch to make my way back to the Zambezi Sun where I heard the prices weren’t so ridiculous. But after taking in Livingstone’s original maps, black and white photos, feather covered reading lamps, and an eclectic mix of chairs covered in botanical print fabric I spotted two tables covered in the tiniest pastries, quiches, sandwiches and patty cakes – obviously made for some royal princess. I sadly made my exit and then my heart skipped a beat as I saw the sign inviting guests to a High Tea.

You know where I spent my next hour.

Just as the afternoon down pour came to a pitter-pattering end I headed off to the Queen of Africa Sunset River Cruise. I had low expectations, imaging some old worn out boat with a fancy name ripping of all the foreign tourists because they don’t know better. Luckily I was pleasantly surprised. I sat on second desk sipping my G&T and eves dropping on the conversations around me.

Next to me were a group of Frenchies, bejeweled in gold elephant necklaces and bangles who didn’t even touch the complementary food. A very friendly English couple who enjoy hiking and have been to Africa on numerous occasions (Pat will be emailing me his photos of the Hippos). Then there was the couple softly speaking Spanish, I was trying to get in some practice but all I could hear was the woman exclaiming “Mono, Mono” (monkey). And of course, not wanting to, I could hear everything the group of US travelers were talking about at the other end of the boat.

So we drifted off into the sunset. I raised a toast to Chef who was that same day competing in France in the famous Bocuse D’Or and to mi amor, friends and family who I wished were all there with me.


Gracious Acres said...

What a wonderful trip! Thank you for sharing the scrumptious experience! And thanks for commenting on my blog - - I just found it!

I can't even imagine wearing shorts in January...

Sammie said...

Every word of your descriptive narrative made me float off into the pages of 'Out of Africa' - the high tea looked delicious, I know how much you would have enjoyed it, but I only wish I could have been there too, to share the experience with you- tea and cake should always be taken by two you know! I know in the not too distant future I will go and see it all as well, but luckly I'll have the best tour guide to show me all around! love you very much! xxxxx

Titania said...

Sounds gorgeous! Definitely on my to-do list ;-) -S

Anonymous said...

And who said we don't really have an Australian Princess....?!

A short trip that may have been looked on as a chore, sure looked otherwise - glad you had a great time and like Samo - one day...!


Oh, I did read thongs, didn't I....:(

Anonymous said...

am I listening to my little girl? The last photo I have of you sharing a High Tea with Sam, was a mudcake (non choclate variety) in one hand and just stepping out of the creekbank! How can I be expected to keep up with it...I can feel the happiness coming through- which in turn makes us very happy too. Think of you often; so far away but very close in our hearts. xxx Marnie & Pang