Day 4. Tue 20th April
Blondie and I are up at six for the "Rhino Walk" in Mosi-oa-Tunja zoological
park. Spotters are already out looking for the three White Rhino (actually
they are not white, the name is a corruption of "wide", referring to the
shape of the mouth, White rhino are the same colour as black rhino, but
have wide mouths for grazing, while black rhino, which are browsers, have
pointed mouths), and are in radio contact with our guide Tony, an Australian.
We join a group of about ten others doing the walk, and set off in
a safari bus. Eventually we find Mollie and her son George dozing under
a bush. The third rhino, Fwanya, is not around. White rhino are not indigenous
to Zambia, and these three are the only ones in the country, having been
imported, as far as we can tell, pretty much as a tourist attraction. There
were originally five, but they have recently lost two within a month of
each other. One fell in the river and drowned (Rhino cannot swim a stroke)
and the other succumbed to disease. Unfortunately George is now reaching
sexual maturity and looking for a mate, and as Mollie, his mother, is the
only female around, they are expecting problems. (I suggest they rechristen
We take a walk through the park and see a good selection of wildlife
- impala, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, vervet monkey, warthog,
saddle-billed stork and batleur eagle. (Because of the three vertical black
marks on the rump, and the fact that they are fast food for predators,
impala are known as the Macdonald's of the bush).
The excursion has cost $50, which frankly seems a bit steep, but at
least they provide a picnic brunch for the group at the end.
The walk is suppose to finish at 10:30, and my flight of the falls has
been tentatively booked for 12:00.However, at 12:00 we are only just leaving
the park, and as we are boarding the bus a messenger runs up to say that
the have received a phone call from the lodge asking where I am. As a result
I get back to the lodge just in time to jump into another vehicle and be
whisked off to the airport.
The 20 minute flight over the falls in the Tiger Moth is absolutely fantastic,
and worth every penny of the $100 it costs. As it is a training plane I
get to sit in the front. I wear a headset, but it is just for protection,
the pilot and I cannot talk to each other, so we must communicate via a
system of taps on the shoulder. The views of the falls and the river are
magnificent, and I take loads of photos, although they are a bit hit-and-miss
as the slipstream threatens to rip the camera out of my hand every time
I stick it outside the cockpit. I even get to steer for a few minutes on
the way back to the airfield.
I hadn't realised before I came here that the Victoria Falls are unlike
most waterfalls in that the water doesn't simply pour over a cliff, but
actually pours into a hole caused by a rift. The water then exits at the
bottom through a channel to the side of the rift, which is where the white
water rafting takes place, when it's running. The bridge over the channel
is where Pete is doing his bungy jump. It is the way the water pours into
this enclosed space that causes the spray to fly up into the air so high,
and caused the locals to give it the name Mosi-Oa-Tunya - "The Smoke
No sooner am I back at the lodge than Ken and Blondie and I are off to
meet Sunshine and Pirate at the falls. Ken has booked us on an evening river
cruise, and we are to be picked up at the lodge at 3:30. Unfortunately
Pete and Kathy know nothing of this additional deadline, and when we arrive
at the falls at 2:00 as arranged there is no sign of them. It would seem
that the bungy jumping is running late. The falls entrance is full of stalls
selling souvenirs (actually about the only souveniry sort of place we visit
on the whole trip - later I realise that I should have bought presents
here as I never really get another chance.) Ken goes off to buy a hat and
Blondie and I "do" the falls, but with the water so high there is actually
little to see but mist. Waterproofs are available for hire, but I scorn
these and, having emptied my pockets of valuables, walk out onto the bridge
over the falls unprotected, and get thoroughly soaked. Blondie is a little
more trepid, but with a little encouragement also makes the journey through
the spray to the centre of the bridge. We cannot view the falls from the
south side, where the view is allegedly much better, as once again this
would mean entering Zimbabwe.
Sunshine and Pirate finally arrive about 3 and we explain the revised
timetable. They are a bit disappointed to have so little time to see the
falls, but trot off for the obligatory drenching while Ken and Blondie
and I take a walk upstream, steaming gently in the sunshine. Ken has managed
to find a hat that fits, but it is bright yellow and decorated with monkeys.
Still, it does make him easy to spot in a crowd.
We all climb soggily back into the Land Rover and head back to the lodge
in time to change for the evening cruise. I dig out my pegless washing
line and hang my dripping clothes outside the chalet to dry.
The cruise around Long Island is very pleasant. We have hired the boat
just for ouselves, and there is a meal thrown in. However, half way through
the voyage the storm clouds gather yet again over Zimbabwe, the thunder
rolls, and the wind begins to blow. We scuttle down below and eat our meal
while the rain rattles on the roof. I am getting very concerned that my
clothes, hanging on the line back at the lodge, will be soaked again, or,
worse, may have blown away completely.
The crew bring us safely to shore at about 7, and round off the evening
by singing some traditional
African songs accompanying themselves on a big drum, which has
to be heated for several minutes first to get the skin to the correct tension,
and a coke bottle struck with a kitchen knife.
We return to the lodge and I am extremely relived to find all my laundry
still hanging there - and dry! The rain was very localised and only a few
spots have fallen at the lodge.
We set off at six tomorrow for Botswana, so we all go off to our rooms
to write postcards and diaries, pack our things and charge our camera batteries
- we will have no electricity now for seven days.