Great African Trek Week 3
Trip Start Nov 24, 2008
98Trip End Oct 21, 2009
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Where I stayed
Vic Falls Rest Camp
Next morning we were up at 5am for a big drive across most of Northern Botswana to Chobe National Park. There was an optional extra to do a game drive and camp out at the national park but only 4 people did as we have already seen so much at this stage and it doesn't make sense to pay for more of the same thing. We did have a boat cruise through the park included as part of our tour the following day. 4 people did the drive anyway and the rest of us chilled out at the campsite that night. We were a bit worried though as the campsite was right on a river and the protective fence was in very poor shape, all night we could hear Hippos making their distinctive loud grunting noises. Luckily they decided not to bother us.
The following day our truck was brought off to be fixed yet again, apparently this time it will be fixed for good! In the afternoon we went on a 3 hour cruise around Chobe National Park. We brought a few drinks along as well so it was a bit of a booze cruise as well as game spotting. Once again we saw all the usual characters Elephants, Buffalo, Hippos and even a few less seen such as Crocodiles, Baboons and various types of birds. The sunset was spectacular as usual on the way back. That night we found that there were a few of the very elusive bush babies in the area. These little creatures are very strange looking guys who live among the treetops. They have huge big eyes, small heads and are very shy. We'll be keeping a look out for them!
Next morning we only had 90km to go Victoria Falls but we had to leave ridiculously early anyway because a few people on our bus wanted to do the full day rafting on the Zambezi river. We also had to cross over the border into Zimbabwe where despite reports to the contrary us Irish had to pay $55 for our visas, only $30 for most others. We could of bypassed Zimbabwe and gone straight on to Zambia but the views of Victoria Falls are meant to be much better from the Zimbabwe side. We are also losing about 10 people from our tour and another 10 new people are getting on. Because of this we all went out for a big group dinner on Friday night. It was a good night as there was a group of tribal dancers on tour staying in the same campsite as us and they put on an amazing show after dinner. We then spent all day Saturday nursing sore heads by the swimming pool. We said goodbye to a few people who were leaving that night as well.
After much debate we decided to go look at the Victoria Falls on Sunday. The reason we were contemplating not going is because there is an entry fee of $20 and we had heard reports that we'll get a look at them on Monday when we cross over the Zambian border bridge. Within 5 minutes of arriving at the falls we realised it would of been madness not to come look at them (We saw hardly any of the falls from the bridge on Monday anyway). The Falls stretch for over a mile and are absolutely stunning. Locally they are known as Mosi-Oa-Tunya aka The smoke that thunders! We spent 2 hours walking the length of the viewing area and getting soaked by spray from the falls. There were also some amazing rainbows formed by the falling water, quite a unique sight! On the way back to the campsite we were hounded by the street hawkers following us down the street trying to sell us crappy souvenirs and Zimbabwean money, eventually I bought some Zimbabwean Trillion and Billion Dollar notes from them just to get some peace. The Zimbabwe currency collapsed a couple of years ago due to massive inflation so the US Dollar is now the currency of choice, this actually makes things quite expensive because they don't use coins and everything is minimum 1 dollars.
That night we met up with most of the new people going to Nairobi. They are mostly Australians and 2 Germans. We had a bit of a get to know each session in the bar which was a good laugh. The truck has also been properly fixed here in Vic Falls as well so hopefully from here on out there will no more mechanical issues. On Monday morning we set off for the Zambia, the border was only a few kilometres from the campsite. Once we got stamped out of Zimbabwe a group of us started the walk across the Vic Falls bridge to the Zambian side. There is bungee jumping at the bridge so we watched a few people doing that. After a while one of our group mentioned that we weren't supposed to walk but actually get back on the truck instead. Every border we've crossed so far we've had to walk from one side to the other so after a lot of confusion the truck turned up and our tour guide Hes told us we were supposed to get back on the truck, not much use to us if were not all told that!?
At the Zambian border post we handed in our passport with the $50 visa fee and waited along with everyone else. Once we all got our passports back Rachel cleverly spotted that herself and I were missing a second stamp that everyone else had in their passports. We decided to ask the customs officer about it and he explained that Irish don't need a visa for Zambia. We got our $50 back and left with huge grins on our faces! It kind of balances things out though because we have to pay $100 visa for Tanzania while everyone else pays $50, apparently the Ireland charges Tanzanians €60 for a Visa. After we got all the border formalities out of the way we had a short drive to the town of Livingston where we exchanged some US Dollars for Zambian Kwacha. My first purchase with this money was a sausage roll and the change I got back was a big wad of notes an inch thick, each note was worth about a 5 euro cents. It was a mess!
That night we stayed at a campsite on the Zambezi river. Most of the new people went on a booze/game cruise but we just chilled out by the pool instead. The funny thing is that they didn't really see much wildlife but as we were sitting by the truck later about 7 elephants strolled up beside us just outside the fence, probably the closest we've been so far!