So after the overland crew broke up, I was back to my own devices. Solo backpacking. My usual modus operandi. I crossed over the bridge overlooking the falls (that’s if it wasn’t so misty that you could actually see the falls) from Zimbabwe to Zambia, cold shouldering arts and craft vendors left and right. It was a bit of a longer walk than I expected with all my luggage, maybe 25 minutes or so before I finally reached the Zambian immigration. Lucky I was able to creep in front of a massive Mexican tour group and avoid waiting too long. Visa damage: $50. Although in one of the more weird visa procedures I’ve experienced, the guy behind the counter literally took over 5 minutes too peel off the visa sticker thing from the sticker book and apply it to my passport. I had about 8 Mexicans craning their heads around me to see what the hell was going on. It’s lots of little things like this that make Africa interesting! And occasionally frustrating.
I hopped in a taxi and headed the 10 kilometers or so to Livingstone, the main city near the falls. My taxi driver was very curious as to my religion (I’m a good Christian in Africa!) as most Africans are pretty religious. Turns out he was also the conductor for his church choir! But he also had some questions about some of the less common English words in some of his songs. So he handed me his song book and we went through a couple of the songs where I needed to explain the words… stuff like ‘bequeath’, ‘provenance’, ‘resolution’, and I can’t remember what else. But you have to remember English is like a 3rd or 4th language to most Africans! And after the vocab session was over he sang a few of the songs for me! Stuff like this is exactly the kind of thing I like that you really miss out on the overland truck type tours!
So I arrived at jollyboys hostel, which was mostly dead. To my surprise there were a few families with small kids. In most places around the world 'hostel' and 'children' should not be in the same sentence. But Africa is a bit different, these are more like large compounds with a wide range of accommodation, with safety being a big factor. I was shown to a dorm room and I was the only person in it, but was told that the next day was fully booked (which is normally pretty odd when you have an 8 bed dorm to yourself). Well it was Easter weekend and turns out there was some sort of large tour group of 18 year olds doing some sort of Africa experience, I don’t know, I didn’t talk to them because they were all annoying, and kept talking about how amazing all the stupid touristy stuff in Livingstone is. They filled up all the rooms and dorms and relinquished me to my tent. Good thing I brought it!
And speaking of Livingstone, it really is the biggest tourist trap of city that exists. Normally prices in Africa for tourist things are more than you would expect, but Livingstone takes the cake. Game drives that you would normally pay $25-40 for elsewhere are $100. Stuff like a half day hike and lunch in a ‘traditional’ village: $80. Prices that are just silly. But people pay them I guess! I was actually hoping to do the white water rafting, which I’d heard was legitimately awesome, but turns out the water was too high and they were only able to raft about 1/3 of the rapids… but it was still full price… wtf?! So I opted out of that. The other thing I was hoping to do was the devil’s pool, which is a natural pool of water right next to the falls, basically overhanging the falls, which makes for an awesome photo. But turns out it was only available in November when the water is low enough. And they charge $100 for it. To sit in a natural pool of water and take some photos for a few minutes. That’s Livingstone.
But there was one redeeming quality in my timing! It was a full moon and for about 3 days you can see a lunar rainbow over the falls because of how bright the full moon reflects on the mist. So I bought a special ticket for that, which is nice because it also allows you to be at the falls for sunset, which ordinarily they’re closed down before then. So I showed up around 5:30, but couldn’t get in until 6, so I bought some roasted corn from a street vendor and wandered down the street a little bit. Turns out a family of baboons had spotted me and my corn and were getting dangerously close. The head male came up very close to me and he had that look in his eye that he was going after my delicious snack, so rather than feel the wrath of a hungry baboon I chucked my corn away into the bush and he went scurrying after it. Don’t mess with the baboons!
At 6:00 I headed into the park and managed to get a few shots off before sunset. There’s one point called the knife’s edge where you walk across a narrow bridge where the water is absolutely pouring down on you. Just smashing you! It’s kind of fun. Like the good cub scout I am, I had my poncho ready. After it got dark I was wandering around not sure where to go for the viewpoint and ran into a German girl who also had no idea where to go for this lunar rainbow. So after maybe 30 minutes of walking with my almost dead headlamp we finally found the cluster of people who we assumed knew where to go. We sat there for maybe 45 minutes before finally seeing the first bit of rainbow. It was kind of cool. Well you could hardly see it. It was actually pretty disappointing. We just assumed that was it! We tried to find a better viewing area for a while, but couldn’t find one, and after another hour we were back at the same spot, but this time is way brighter! It was full rainbow over the falls! At night! So all in all, it was worth it. Somehow I don’t think I’ll be seeing another lunar rainbow anytime soon!
The next day was a relax day. After so many days on the truck and constantly moving around, it was time for an absolutely nothing day. Plus I hardly did any photo editing on truck, so I was wayyy behind. I needed to catch up a little. It was time for a photo editing binge! I spent all afternoon playing around with the photos on my computer, like a turd, sitting there on the nice comfy pillowpad for hours on end. After it got dark and I was still plopped in my exact same spot. A blonde girl who I had noticed earlier came up and wanted to know what I was doing on my computer for so long. This was kind of embarrassing, as when you stay at hostel you’re normally expected to be friendly, outgoing, meeting new people etc. Whereas I had been sitting in front of my computer for 6 hours not talking to anyone. Well most people at this hostel were families or the 18 year olds, so I had an excuse! But obviously it was nice to meet another traveller, who was about my age (and a girl). Plus I got to show off my photos, which drive all the women wild. Not.
Well it turns out this girl, well her name is Carmen and she’s Dutch, preferred to go to the supermarket and cook her own food (I like to cook too!) so we decided we’d make something together. We ended up making pasta with veggies and sausages in the dark, as the kitchen light was no longer working. Also without olive oil or any type of seasoning. It was not a well stocked kitchen! It was still decent though. It turned out we were both heading in the same direction, so we figured we might as well travel together! The next day we bought our bus tickets to our next destination: Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.