Tag Archive: Zambia


LIFE AS A MOVIE (Part 1)


I’m on a REVIEW MODE. I always tell my family that when I grow too old to be able to travel without breaking any bones or being a burden to my travel companions, I’d be quite content in a lazy boy watching my OWN MOVIES and photo albums. It’s my MEMORY AIDE these “memory catchers”. I want to remember all the happy moments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Safari videos certainly rank up there in my collection of memories. How else can you replay those moments when you’re just a few feet from a rhino or a pride of lions? It’s a miracle my hands stopped shaking to capture these moments in video. But my Zambian adventure tops the list too. Aaah….. Zambia. It’s everything I did not expect!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first helicopter ride didn’t happen in Zambia. My first heliflight was back in 2007 in Alaska. Setting foot on Mendenhall Glacier was a top thrill too. That’s when I knew I can give up shopping anytime to blow dollars on these expensive adventures. But there were also happy moments where I didn’t have to burn a hole in my pocket. Times with family. Adventures with my “elves”. *Happiness*

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?


Only 42 then, Dr. Livingstone was a Scottish missionary and explorer whose claim to fame includes being the first European to discover Victoria Falls in 1855. He was also a witness to a massacre of African slaves, prompting a meeting between him and H. Stanley of the New York Herald. In that 1869 meeting, Stanley was quoted to have asked “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”. The question is tinged with humor because Livingstone was the only white face amidst a group of Africans. The quotation likewise gave rise to a song of the same title back in 1968. Obviously, Dr. Livingstone cannot easily be forgotten in this land where a town, a Museum and a hotel, among others, were named after him.

 

 

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Mosi-oa-Tunya (Tokaleya Tonga: the Smoke that Thunders; the ‘i’ is silent). “Discovered” by Dr. Livingstone in 1855.

 

 

But this blog is not about the man. This is about the Royal Livingstone Hotel right by the Eastern Cataract of the majestic Victoria Falls. To visit Livingstone Island, one takes a short boat ride from the Sundeck of this 5 star hotel. Fabulous is one word to describe this hotel. From the Sundeck, to the poolside, to the porch and breakfast nook, to the sprawling garden overlooking the “smoke that thunders”, one is tempted to swear that a single visit ain’t enough.

 

 

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A boat ride from the Sundeck of Royal Livingstone Hotel will take you to the Livingstone Island where you can walk to the edge of the cliff or swim in Devil’s Pool right by the edge.

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This is the Sundeck. During the wet season, the “mist” is more dramatically visible complete with the sound of the waterfalls.

 

 

Drinking by the porch or in the Sundeck is a must. I can just imagine how misty it gets during the wet season. A friend told me she’d never forget the sound of the gushing waters from the Falls while sipping her drink in this hotel. Quite an experience, I must say.

 

 

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Poolside. Royal Livingstone Hotel. Eastern Cataract of Victoria Falls. Zambia.

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Colonial-inspired Royal Livingstone Hotel. Its sister-hotel, the Zambezi Sun Hotel has a more African and resort- theme.

 

 

It would be a dream to actually stay in this hotel and be served your breakfast in this very colonial-inspired dining parlor. Or perhaps enjoy your sundowner from the hotel bar while listening to good music. Would they play “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” . I bet!

 

 

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Breakfast Nook in Royal Livingstone Hotel

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Feels and looks very exclusive.

 

 

So, would you stay here the next time you visit? “Sam” is waiting. (He just migrated from Morocco to Zambia).

 

 

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Play it again, Sam.


If there’s something I learned not to miss here in Africa, it’s reading the signs. Oh sure, mind those signs. It can save your life!

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BE WARNED! No wonder we had to sign so many waivers.

Funny. Amusing. Or scary? Having signed so many WAIVERS here, it becomes nearly obligatory to mind those signs. You don’t find much of them anywhere else.

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Baboons really scare me. Reminds me of their my scary episode with their cousins in Kathmandu, Nepal.

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This got me off that tempting bench by the river. In a heartbeat!

So, before you claim an empty bench and relax with a frothy hot cocoa, READ. For all the dangers they pose, I must say though that those signs are nearly inconspicuous.

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Zebras by the Hotel entrance.


Oh well, THIS IS AFRICA!

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Was it an authentic boma dinner? Who’s to tell? I love it. Bush dinner under open starlit skies only African nights can offer. Listening to the rhythm of African drums as the aroma from various meats grilling to perfection wafted through the thin dusty air. Curries stewing in open metal pots. Camp fires and blankets failing to keep us warm.

 

 

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Campfires at 6 Celsius? Hand me that blanket!

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Steaming hot. Just the way we want it.

 

 

The drum beats and a motley group of singers and dancers entertained us in the Entabeni Private Game Reserve. So, this is what dining in the bush is all about. Another “experience” tucked under our belt. Hard to appreciate then because of the cold. Too cold that the thought that a beast may lurk somewhere in the dark hardly mattered. Too dark that we hardly cared what exotic meat we may be eating.

 

 

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Interactive Drum Session. (I’d rather dance)

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Medium Rare. Perfection.

 

 

But it must be said. They sure know how to do their steaks here in Africa. In Tribes in the Emperor Palace Complex in Jo’burg where we dined, I enjoyed my 300 gram rump so much. Before that, the Congo Wild Mushroom topped with creamed spinach and cheese is “to die for”. Better than Portabello, if you ask me.

 

 

 

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Order the Congo Mushrooms and the Rump. You won’t regret it. Then some Malva Pudding as African dessert.

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Malva Pudding on your lower left, folks.

 

 

And how about all those exotic meats in the buffet spreads in Zambezi Sun Hotel? The crocodile meat I found rather bland. But the Impala and Kudu meat…. Now, that’s real game dish I won’t pass up. Better than the biltongs, boerewors, kudu pies and ostrich bobotie I’ve tried in the Western Cape. (The springbok pie in Berluda Farmhouse is still tops)

 

 

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Choose your WILD!

 

For the life of me, I never thought I’d fall for antelope meat that much. The Zambezi fish was so good yet I just couldn’t pass up the exotic meats. Guess I knew they’re to be “experienced” best here than anywhere else. Truly, the “taste of Africa”. Speaking of which, I didn’t fail to visit the store by the same name to take home some pâtés made from the same exotic meats: crocodile, impala, kudu, ostrich, springbok.

 

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Exotic meat pates: Crocs, Kudu, Ostrich, Impala, Springbok.

 

 

For sure, this is an African cultural and culinary experience. Chatting up locals, engaging in culinary adventure, drinking their local beers and wines, bush dining under African skies. Quite a sensory experience, don’t you think?

 

“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”
Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly


I like the vibe here. More than anywhere else. It has the “truly African” feel to it. Or perhaps, I should say “Truly Zambian”.

 

 

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Just a few meters away is the edge of the cliff. Have your Eggs Benedict breakfast here while “listening” to the smoke that thunders. Victoria Falls!

 

 

Breakfast right by the “smoke that thunders”. What beats that? I’d readily give up my oyster and champagne breakfast for this experience. Yes, it is more than just breakfast. It’s quite an experience to munch through your Eggs Benedict while listening to the gushing waters from the falls and feeling that “spray” of water as the wind blows your way.

 

 

 

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Thank you, Chikie, for this photo. I really hammed it up, didn’t I?

 

 

To think I was already so pleased with Zambezi Sun’s buffet breakfast. And my premier breakfast spot right by the pool, which Ngandan secures for me every morning! Can’t complain about this Zambian leg of my African journey. Everything worked out perfect here. It’s in the stars!

 

 

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Royal Breakfasts indeed! A local, Ngandan, secured this spot for me each morning.

 

 

From our hotel, it’s only 2 kilometers trailing a path to view the Falls from different angles. Make that 4 kilometers for a return trip. The sun is out but the path is slippery owing to the water spray from the waterfalls. I’ve read about this tourist who slipped and fell from the edge (yes, he died) when a baboon sprung from nowhere to snatch his bag. So let me just say I took great care scaling those steps, crossing the wet bridge, watching out for baboons and yes, snapping way too many photos.

 

 

 

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An aerial shot of the Falls with the Zambezi Sun Hotel on the lower left. From this spot, we hiked towards the steel bridge where we had a better viewing of the Falls and the Livingstone Bridge. Had a good “spray” too!

 

 

You can only take so many photos of the SAME Victoria Falls. From a helicopter, from the edge, from the bridge, from the many viewing spots. Lighting differs quite a bit, and the mist from the Falls can make or break a shot. After a while, you stop. Wiping my camera lens, I can only feel gratitude in my heart for all these natural wonders. The Falls. A rainbow here and there. Standing on a spot of land in Zambia, while looking out to the other tourists standing on a spot of land in Zimbabwe just across the Falls. Or looking down to the Zambezi River where some dare white-water raft or swim at Boiling Point. Such beauty. And I was there!

 

 

 

 

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Photo Credits: Chikie. (That’s me up front, busy snapping photos while getting slightly wet from the water spray)

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That’s the hiking trail. Just 4 kilometers return trip. And look at that rainbow!

 

 

Oh, by the way, there are some others who’d rather view the Falls while jumping off Livingstone Bridge which connects Zambia to Zimbabwe. If you care for a jump, just remember that a young woman once bungee-jumped and the rope snapped and she plunged straight into the waters. She had the presence of mind to swim under the currents to pull her feet off the rope then swim up to the nearest rock to wait for rescue. Now, what are the chances you can do a repeat of that? Best of luck, chap!

 

 

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You can only take so many photos of the same Falls.

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SEE THAT BUNGEE-JUMPER? IT’S THAT TINY RED DOT BELOW THE LIVINGSTONE BRIDGE WHICH CONNECTS ZAMBIA TO ZIMBABWE.

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THE LIVINGSTONE BRIDGE. AND THE ZAMBEZI RIVER BELOW. SOMEWHERE THERE IS THE “BOILING POINT”.


We took the 90 minute flight from Johannesburg and landed in the Livingstone International Airport. Frankly, one can hardly call it that. It’s a very small airport, manned by a minimum of airport crew who looked like a cast from some ongoing movie shoot. For a while, I suspected the X-ray machine would damage my camera and iPad. Don’t ask me why. The thought crossed my mind. Though I never expressed my fears.

 

 

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This is Africa!

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ZAMBIA

 

This is hardcore Africa. From the time we stepped out of the airport, fetched by a hotel van driving past dusty Livingstone with locals in colorful outfits, I sensed AFRICA. Soon enough, we were in our hotel touted as the nearest hotel to the majestic Victoria Falls. Not exactly in the same rank as its sister-hotel — the Royal Livingstone Hotel — but I like its ambience. Less colonial in architecture. Definitely more African.

 

 

 

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Honestly….I passed only 2 roads in Livingstone, Zambia. And yes, those are the blue taxis of Zambia!

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Not that old. But this is typical in the whole of Livingstone’s “CBD”.

 

The stark contrast between this small dusty town’s character and the grandness of the hotels by the Falls couldn’t be more pronounced. Zambezi Sun Hotel is a beautiful hotel with a very African theme. It is also a nature reserve where giraffes, baboons, crocodiles and zebras freely roam the grounds. It was tempting to leave some nuts just outside our room’s sliding doors. Or by the swinging bench by the river where a sign “Beware of Crocodiles” promptly got me off the bench to retreat back to my air conditioned room.

 

 

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This is my breakfast view during my stay in Zambezi Sun Hotel.

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Pleasantly surprised to find superb food quality and service here in Zambia. My favorite serving lady is named Nganda.

 

 

Once, the hotel van we were riding had to stop to let this towering giraffe pass. Another time, we got all excited when a good looking zebra roamed around the hotel front, unmindful of hotel guests snapping photos and following him around. My, we don’t even have to go to a wildlife park to see these safari animals. They’re everywhere. Sitting by the pool with a Mosi beer and a plateful of fries, I waited to check the rates for a foot massage by the pool. (Forget it. It’s way too much) From the corner of my eye, I saw a monkey and a tiny animal I couldn’t make out snooping from behind a tree. Not sure if they like French Fries or a beer, but really, I didn’t need company then. 😄

 

 

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Zebra right by the hotel entrance!

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Taken while inside the hotel van. The van stopped to let this regal safari animal pass. Giraffes in Zambezi Sun Hotel!

 

A bit of trivia: You can tell an alligator from a crocodile judging by the shape of their snouts. crocs have narrower, V shaped snouts while alligators have wider U shaped snouts. Alligators are also generally darker, almost black in color. As for the Lacoste reptile, it’s meant to be a crocodile. A green crocodile. Only in Lacoste. 😊

 

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Typical buildings in Livingstone’s CBD.

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And yes, this is a Catholic Church in Livingstone, Zambia.

 

 

Ah, I’ve been wrong so many times but I was never this sooooo wrong about one country. As we left Livingstone, Zambia I took one last look at the Saint Theresa Church along the Airport Road. Frankly? I didn’t expect to find Catholics in Zambia. It seems I was simply too engrossed over the country’s natural wonders that I was an epic failure in the other departments. To find almost every Zambian speaking fluent English came as a total surprise. And don’t tell me I should have known this country was once under British rule. There were many other ex-British colony countries I’ve visited where language was a problem. Not here. I totally enjoyed talking to the locals. Zambians are among the friendliest I’ve met. They can be quite chatty too. How delightful to find new friends!

 

 

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LOO WITH A VIEW? We found this tented toiled just a few meters from the cliff edge by the Victoria Falls.

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

 

SUNSETS IN ZAMBIA


How many sunset shots before you give your camera a rest? How many Mosi beers or red wines or cocktail drinks while cruising along the Zambezi River before you call it a day? How many beast surprises – an elephant here, a croc there, a hippo by the riverbank – before you realize THIS IS AFRICA!

 

 

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Sunset While Cruising the Zambezi River

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Cruising Till Sundown

 

 

Here in Zambia, Lady Luck was with me all the way. The 25-minute helicopter flight, the Livingstone Island Visit, the African Queen Sunset Cruise. I’ve seen more elephants and hippos here than in all my zoo visits combined in my lifetime! Like I hardly remember how I felt when I saw that lone elephant while on a boat to Livingstone Island. We spotted more on our heliflight as the copter flew over an island with as many as 7 elephants there! Like I could hardly contain my enthusiasm over the nearly guaranteed viewing of hippos while doing the Sunset Cruise. They were not few. One too many, with one managing to draw oooohhhhs  and aaaaahhhs from the cruise passengers as he opened his mouth as in a big yawn.

 

 

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Ever wondered why elephants flap their ears?

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Hippos Are Main Attractions Too.

 

 

All that excitement……. helped along by an “OPEN BAR” and a very friendly English-speaking crew. I started and ended with red wine. Tempting to try Mosi Beer. Truly Zambian, but that can wait another day. Every now and then, I’d carry my glass from the bar to the deck. Who ever grows tired of sunsets?

 

 

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This is the little “sister” of the African Queen Sunset Cruise.

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The crew of friendly sailors were all so friendly on the whole 2 hour cruise.

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Who ever grows tired of sunsets?

 

A bit of trivia here: Elephants flap their ears to cool themselves as when it’s hot or when it’s upset. When you see one, don’t bother guessing if it’s feeling warm or upset. Best is to simply stay away.

 

Cheers, everyone! GESONDHEID!

 

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Truly Zambian!


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Victoria Falls, discovered by Livingstone in 1855 and named after then reigning Queen Victoria.

The quick boat ride up until the edge.

The walking tour to view the falls from different angles before and after crossing the bridge.

Then the helicopter flight for a 360 degree view of the majestic falls shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe.

All 3 ways , plus more, to see Victoria Falls can’t be missed. With rainbows a dime a dozen in this area, how can you go wrong?

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Bungee-Jumping , anyone?

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Rainbows a certainty in this part of the world.

Bungee-jumping not for me. Nor micro light flying. Or white water rafting through the Zambesi River. No thanks. No high-octane activity for me. No chance of dicing with Death. Not this soon. Can only go as far as a heli flight. But that is not to say one should miss the walking tour and the boat ride to the edge. If you’re lucky, you’re bound to meet up with some elephants up the river. Or hippos. Also crocs. Don’t you think that’s enough excitement without having to jump off the bridge?

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Fancy meeting you here, Mr. Elephant!

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The Smoke that Thunders!

Sitting on rocks by the edge, I listened to the gushing waters of Victoria Falls. Sat there. Immobile. Still. Mesmerized. The sound of gushing waters can be quite hypnotic. Then slowly looked down and checked out the end of the rainbow. It’s a lovely day to be out with temp a perfect 23 C. Wisps of steam coming off the falls as I peered down. Thank God the early fog had lifted. But too bad Devil’s Pool is not open for wading/swimming adventurers because of the high water level in the pool. I would have loved to wade through its waters to reach the very edge. In fact I was ready with my swimwear under my jumper dress.

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Zambia on your left. Zimbabwe on your right.

On our helicopter flight, we flew over a bush veld and found more elephants. The Batoka Gorge is awesome! And the flight through its gorge over the Zambezi river approximates starring in some action-adventure movie the likes of Star Wars and Indiana Jones. As with my other adventures in Africa, I wish to remember every detail of this trip with gratitude in my heart. So thankful for this blessing!

A bit of trivia: Livingstone was only 42 when he discovered Victoria Falls in 1855. He died of Malaria and Dysentery. Britain took his body back but the Zambians took his heart out to remain in Zambia where locals feel it belongs. Dr. Livingstone, I presume? 

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Helicopter flying right into the Batoka Gorge!

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Check out the elephants on the island………..

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Another rainbow!

If you have 9 minutes, watch this video clip of our heli-flight over Victoria Falls.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwxjX7mU2Nc&feature=youtube_gdata_player