Day 4. Tue 20th April

Victoria Falls.

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 him Oedipus!).
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.
George the White Rhino. Mosi-oa-Tunja zoological parkImpala. Mosi-oa-Tunja zoological parkPicnic on Rhino walk. Mosi-oa-Tunja zoological park
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 Smoke That Thunders'. The view of the falls from the airportMusicians at Vic Falls 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 That Thunders".
My Tiger MothVic Falls from the air
Vic Falls from the air. The bridge and channel.Vic Falls from the air. The view upstream.
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.
Musician at Vic FallsVic Falls view downstream. The channel and bridge.
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.
Cruise boat Vic FallsCloudscape. Zambesi river cruise at Vic FallsKen and Blondie on Zambesi river cruise at Vic Falls. Ken sporting new hat.
The crew sing for us. Zambesi river cruise at Vic Falls. (Click for sound)
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.
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