We took a helicopter flight over Victoria Falls and I had made an effort to have a side word with the person leading the passengers to the chopper. I tipped him to give me the front corner seat for the best view. The flight was enjoyable and was a great introduction for Leanne to see the falls. It also allowed us to see them from Zimbabwe airspace without having to cross the border. This was my second visit here and while last time I did the bungee jump and white water rafting, this time we took it easy.
We spent a large part of the day wandering around the Zambian side of the park. The falls are at a beautiful water level, enough flow to make them spectacular, but low enough that the mist isn’t overwhelming and you can see them nicely. We did get drenched though as each time the wind would gust it essentially rained upwards with torrential pours against the falls edge. We were packed a simple lunch in a plastic bag from the lodge we are staying at. We had just passed a sign that said Baboon Sanctuary and Leanne decided it was a good location to sit and eat as there was a small log on the ground to sit on. I questioned the logic of eating in a baboon sanctuary, but we went ahead and started. About a minute in with hardly any food touched a massive alpha male baboon charged Leanne grabbing towards her banana. She threw it at his chest and jumped back. He took it and the plastic bag full of food and meticulously went through it peeling and eating the fruit and unwrapping sandwiches from their plastic wrap. It was a funny event but Leanne was very shaken up. We saw a park ranger shortly after that and he chased it off with a slingshot (you don’t want to get too close to baboon claws). It became a huge entertaining spectacle for the other tourists as they all gathered around to take photos of it eating our food in a very human like way. Another tourist said the same thing happened to him not long before that. The baboons recognize the bags to have food and if the baboon is big enough and hungry enough it will be aggressive to get it. This was one of the biggest I’ve ever seen, probably because it has found a great source to feed itself.
Later on we wandered down a path called “Best photography path”. It sounded perfect for me and we followed it for ten minutes. The path went beyond the Zambian border and along the road to Zimbabwe. Although there was a fence with barbed wire, it had clearly been compromised in a number of areas and people must use it to get over the border illegally. I was taking photos and Leanne had wandered ahead. There had been no one else on this path. Leanne had almost reached the end of it when she was approached and surrounded by three men in their early twenties. They quickly moved to block her from being able to get away. They started talking to her and were moving in closer to her. It was calculated for them to trap Leanne and there were being intentionally intimidating. It was almost a minute before I showed up around the corner. I was alarmed with the positioning of them. When they saw me they backed off and one wandered over to try to have a friendly, nothing-going-on-here, chat. I wanted nothing to do with it as we were isolated a long way from safety. At this point the guys decided to pull out some hidden jewellery to sell to us. I told the person talking to me I had no interest and we were going, thanks and goodbye. Leanne was more subtle and told another person separately that we had no cash on us but would probably come back tomorrow, which was a lie. We quickly departed and warned a lone person we passed on the way back about the people at the end of the trail.
We finished off the day in style by boating over to Livingstone Island to literally stand on the edge of the falls and to be served high tea. They bundle the island trip with the food and drink to make it more expensive. This time of year there is no other way to get there. It was a beautiful afternoon and the views were stunning. It is certainly the best place to admire the falls and we were both really happy we went. Leanne was a bit nervous as we were escorted to the cliff edges for photos. She particularly doesn’t like my interest in getting as close to the edge as possible for the best views. We returned to the mainland to find a rare albino monkey and a herd of zebra on the lawn of the hotel grounds where the boat departs from. We were picked up and I was given complimentary beer to drink in the vehicle on the trip back.
The falls are beautiful and Leanne prefers them to Iguazu falls, although I think Victoria Falls comes in a close second. Despite a couple of uncomfortable situations, we still had a phenomenal time here. We are leaving with some amazing memories.
Photos for Vic Falls and the Okavango Delta are posted here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=111456&id=673382190&l=334f1a685e