Lions, Elephants and Vic Falls!

Trip Start May 31, 2007
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Trip End May 20, 2008


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Where I stayed
Matetsi Water Lodge

Flag of Zimbabwe  ,
Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Decided to do my optional activities on the Zimbabwe side of Livingstone so headed over in the am via mini bus with some other tourmates.  Got dropped off at the Zambia border after passing a long, long line of trucks waiting to cross...rather perfunctory process to get out then another mini was there to transport us through 'no man's land' over a bridge with a spectacular view of the gorge and Zambezi to Zimbabwe immigration which we flew through.  With the current economic conditions in Zimbabwe, there were quite a few locals crossing back and forth just to get the essentials...which were sometimes carried on their heads!  Got a pretty cool looking full page visa (only two empty pages left now...) and headed over to a resort where the Lion Encounter and African Elephant Ride were going to happen.  The rain was pouring down as we headed out to spend time up close and personal with some lion 'cubs' (term used loosly as they were actually looking like full grown males about 100 - 150 kg each!)  Camera got really wet, but managed to stand next to a couple of lions, pet one and watch them play and goof and run all over the ground as well as on a tree.  We were each given thin sticks and told to look stern and say "no" when the cubs started looking naughty...hmmm luckily we didn't have to do much to keep them inline as the handlers were really great.  The program here is intended to increase the lion population in Africa by using a breeding and four step reintroduction program.  The cubs that we encountered were not tamed but responded to directions from the handlers and were in phase or step one of the four step program. 

After a full breakfast back at the lodge, some of us headed out to ride on the elephants.  Really good setup, comfy cushion to sit on and only two or three people plus guide on each elephant.  We made our way through the bush with the elephants constantly eating, relieving themselves or widing their trunk back towards the guides for snacks. Apparently, training a
African elephants is based on the incentive rather than punishment system...which seemed to work fairly well.  They were certainly better cared for and treated than the elephant I rode in Nepal.

After a quick lunch in town...basically devoid of any tourism and filled with locals offering scandalously low prices for lovely wood carved trinkets...we walked towards the border to the entrance of Victoria Falls passing more trucks, scavenging baboons and getting a bit damp from the spray of the falls beyond.  On this side, you get a much more extensive view of the falls and we saw rainbows almost from every angle...got super wet, saw a green poisonous snake and then made our way back across the border, the immigration official barely even looked at our passports before putting a quick stamp on the visa and then into a barely functioning minivan to the Waterfront Hotel where we were staying.  As usual,. a few local boys hounding us to try to get our transportation business...the conversation usually starting by a hello, where are you from, where are you going, what have you seen...blah blah blah always heading towards the final request for money or to provide us services...with price to be negotiated back and forth. 

After dinner we spent the evening at the bar where most people were drunk having just stepped off the nightly booze cruise...which we had done a few nights earlier and were left in a very similar condition : )

Here are a collection of photos that I uploaded to my facebook account showing quite of bit of the Africa highlights...enjoy!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=87276&l=e8769&id=658590573

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=87261&l=3afce&id=658590573
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