Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Livingston, Zambia

10/11/07: I had one night in Jo'Berg before my flight to Zambia, where I stayed at a place called Brown Sugar.

Ahh Jo'Berg, enter at own risk - WTF? It's the AIRPORT

10/12/07: My arrival in Zambia. I had booked with my backpacker a while ago, Jollyboys is it's name, and they had my visa waiting for me at the airport. After unpacking I wanted to check out a new country so I visited the local market, called the Maramba Market ( There were rows of little shacks selling everything. Candles, batteries, light sockets, socks, fishing tackle, shampoo, whatever. As I wandered through, I came upon vast tables of fish with swarms and swarms of flies almost to thick to walk through. There were catfish, tiger fish, largemouth bass, bream and African Perch, that looks like a cross between a bass and a pike. The women selling the fish would occasional dip them in buckets of filthy water to keep them from drying out and to wash off the dead flies. In the next section of stalls they kept the dried fish, which smelled worse, but had fewer flies.

An ocean of dried fish

Finally I wandered into a "bar," called Hunters I think, adjacent to the market. In about 3 seconds I had 25 different people yelling to me to come over, look at this, have a drink and other things I couldn't discern. I turned and walked away, and 2 guys followed me for about 50 yards. After that, as it was getting late and I was getting very nervous I hit the main road and got a taxi back to the Hostel. Tomorrow I'll be fishing the Zambezi for Tigers.

10/13/07: I'm Tiger fishing on the Zambezi today and I can hardly control myself. It's been weeks since I've wet a line. Yaku, Jason and his son Rod are fishing on this day as well. It was my first site of the Zambezi, complete with Crocs, Hippos and Tiger fish. We only managed 2 fish on the day. The boat and the gear were fine, but I was suprised the guide couldn't put us on more fish. My sense was that he was holding back. I think we saw only one or two of his good spots, after all he has been guiding for something like 20 years. Fortunately I caught this:

A Zambezi Tiger

We wrapped up at about 1 pm and I headed back to Jollyboys. That afternoon I went to "The Smoke that Thunders," Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls: It's 1.7 KM long at high water, which is in February/March. It's been flowing for 1.5 million years and at it's peak flow 550,000 liters of water per minute flow over it's edge during the wet season. We are in the dry season now, which will continue for 3-5 more weeks. Of the many activities you can do, I chose the guided hike. At low water it's possible to walk all the way to Livingston Island and beyond.

As we walked along and my guide Maurice told me this and that, mostly relating to the magnificence of the flow at high water, I began to feel that I may be here at the wrong time. Perhaps my lack of planning had finally come back to bite me. Then we came upon this:

This is the "Devil's Pool" (which continues the trend of 'Devil's' things I encounter around the globe. It's sort of like the way that every single river in the U.S. has a "Rock Garden of the Giants." Soon I will begin to plead with locals to name things after the local evil diety, but that is neither here nor there.). As you can see from it's proximity to the edge, this would be inaccessible at high water, and is my reward for arriving here, now. It requires you to leap towards the edge, maybe 10 feet away. The pool was discovered in 1984 by a local fisherman and is about 8 feet at it's deepest. The main flow of the waterfall, facing out to the edge, lies at your right at 15 feet. There is a crescent shaped rock that forms the pool, and only about 2-6 inches of water flows over the top of it, so there is no current to pull you over. It was not easy to make the leap, but well worth the effort:

Once in the pool you can sit right on the edge of the falls. Turn over and you can shimmy far enough to peer straight down. I got some great shots:

Tomorrow I will be white water rafting just below this spot.

10/14/2007: Rafting the Zambezi ( The lower the flow in the Zambezi, the higher the rapid class. They don't even bother with the run in the high water season because the water flows gently over the top of the rapids at that time. In October the rapids are at their most ferocious. The run consists of 23 rapids, with 10 class 5 rapids. This does not include #9, where we made portage and avoid the class 6 all together. The fun began almost immediately as I was in the front of the raft and it dipped right into the first rapid, sucking me and one other out of the boat. My camera had also wacked me in the head while I was underwater, so I came up bleeding. Fortunatly is wasn't bad, and it was SO FUN.
Rapid #1 got me

We ran rapid after rapid, at one point stopping so we could scale the canyon while and jump into the river from 20 feet or so. Rapid # 6 is the "Devil's Toilet Bowl." At this point I had to put my foot down. We have Devil's Peak in Cape Town, Devil's Pool and now Devil's Toilet Bowl. What a lousy name for a rapid. I starting asking the guide to come up with some other names and start using them, but he wasn't having it. The scariest part of the trip was when the boat flipped on the Oblivion rapid. I managed to hold on to the raft, but it was still very difficult to keep my head up, as the river was trying to suck me under the raft and water was spilling over the top. Somehow the guide pulled himself back up instantly, and we started gathering people until we had enough to flip the raft back over. I could see that some of the guys were really scared, and I came to discover a good reason why.

Right in it!

We righted the ship and had a great time the rest of the day. Each of the 10 class 5 rapids were good enough to be the featuered rapids on many other rivers in the world, and I would love to do it again. That night, however, I heard some news that made me think long and hard about that. 2 days before we ran the river, a 23 year old Aussie girl died on # 8. Now I understand why those blokes were so scared, for they had known about this before they went:,22606,22586691-5006301,00.html.

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