Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Three Countries in Two Days: Road Trip to Victoria Falls

What a weekend! 23 of us left at 4 am on Friday morning and drove 12 hours across Botswana and into Zimbabwe to visit the gorgeous Victoria Falls--a Natural Wonder of the World! Of course the bus we rented didn't actually arrive until about 4:45 am (that's African time for ya) because he some how managed to get lost on the UB campus. But never the less we set out on our journey hoping to see some animals along the way and anxious to do some physically demanding and daring excursions. 

About 5 hours into our drive we finally spotted some animals! We saw an elephant that was extremely close to the road we were driving on and then for the next half an hour we saw herds of giraffes and zebras grazing along in the distance--it was quite a sight to see! 

Finally we made it to our lodging for the night in Zimbabwe where we had dinner with another huge group of white people (we actually thought it might have been a family trip but we weren't sure). We got to see a tribal group dance performance which was really interesting but not so interesting that they immediately tried to sell CDs after their performance. Unfortunately, a bunch of got sick from either the food we ate or drinking the tap water there--some found out earlier than others, including me. I was so worried that I wouldn't be well enough in the morning to visit the Falls or Bungee Jump, or more importantly, make the 12 hour drive back to Botswana! But luckily I pulled through and the next morning woke up to start a day of walking around the Victoria Falls and getting soaked walking out to the viewing spots. 

Looking at Victoria Falls from one of the viewpoints
The two pictures above are of the actual Falls from the Zimbabwe side, and yes it was so loud being so close to them but it was GORGEOUS! It was so hard to believe that these formations were created naturally!

Attempting to get a good picture in the Falls mist 

And finally my most favorite part about this weekend was Bungee Jumping of course! Seven of us decided we were brave enough to do the combo package which included Bungee-jumping, a bungee swing which was pretty much a straight free fall and then a scenic swing over the Zambezi River--both activities which started with a Zipline across the Zambezi River to get to the end of the bridge where we were jumping off of. 

I don't have pictures of my daring jumps off the bridge yet because one of the girls in my group had a really nice professional kind of camera so she took all the pictures of us jumping, flying, swinging and screaming--but I promise I'll post them as soon as I get my hands on them! 

View of the Zambezi River from the Bridge

View of the Bridge over the Zambezi from Zimbabwe

After our active day we tried to get into Zambia in time to hang over the edge of Devils Pool--another natural phenomenon where there is a pool that looks over a cliff and you can hang over the edge with someone holding your ankles. Unfortunately though, the water level was too high for it to be safe to go and it was already starting to get dark by the time we crossed over into Zambia for the night. We ended up checking into our hotel--it was called Jolly Boys and was super cute and bright and spent the evening walking around downtown Livingstone taking in the atmosphere. Mind you, Botswana is a second-world country which Zambia is third world so it was REALLY different, but I honestly fell in love with it after being there just for that night. Though it was dirtier and much poorer, everyone was incredibly warm and engaging and just genuinely happy. Also, while we were driving to Jolly Boys, every Taxi, public radio station and bar was blasting the Zambia vs. Lesotho soccer game and cheering every time Zambia scored! I think Zambia ended up winning 4-0 and so everyone was estatic and even more energetic than usual! 

In the morning we woke up at 5:30 to make the 12 hour bus drive back to Gaborone, and nothing much happened during that drive except that a few more people started realizing that they should have had the  weird steak at dinner in Zimbabwe on Friday night...I've now termed it the Zimbabwe sickness.

Anyhoo! I'm at a new clinic this week for my rotation and I have two papers and a presentation due in the next three days (yippee!) and I'm also headed to Serowe this weekend to visit the Khama Rhino Sanctuary! This all means that I will try my hardest to post in a more timely manner than these last two posts, but who knows what will happen in a week!

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