The Thursday morning the plan was to head to the Zambian National Park around the falls to take in the beauty from there, and maybe make it over to the Zimbabwe side too if there was time. Julianna was developing the start of a cold, and woke up with a nasty cough and not feeling great – so we decided that she would stay home in bed and get some extra rest (as she had already been to the falls’ parks, and wasn’t going to be up for the quick pace needed to fit everything in). So, Julianna nuzzled into bed for a little more rest, and Dustin headed off to the parks. (It should be noted that Julianna feels I have a propensity for tripping, so her last words to me were: ‘be VERY careful’ on the slippery rocks and such).
I was dropped off at the park, paid my entrance, and headed in to explore. The sun was just beginning to peek out, which made for quite a mystical atmosphere. It was early enough that it was quiet, with hardly any one else yet in the park (save three other people, who I later found out were Scouts on a Jamboree trip). The falls are quite massive, and it is hard to describe them as anything other than overwhelmingly amazing. I always enjoy a good waterfall, and this is without a doubt the pinnacle of those experiences. With the rising sun providing the wonderful morning light, I couldn’t help but snap up as many pictures as possible. With one attempted picture, fate slipped in and sent me tumbling: left hand down onto the rocks to cushion the blow, right hand into the air (save the camera!!). Luckily I had been somewhat cautious and wasn’t close to the edge – there are for the most part no barriers and it would be quite easy to misstep and end up at the bottom of the falls (thus Julianna’s grave concern in sending me off on my own). I bounced up, not thinking much of it until I looked down to see the blood running down my wrist. The rock I landed on had sliced open a small gash on my palm/wrist, so I spent the next 20 minutes exploring the rest of the area with pressure on the cut and holding my hands up high to slow the blood flow (I must have looked quite odd running around like this, luckily no one else was really around). After having taken in the views from all the trails I could find I headed back to the entrance, found a bathroom to wash up the cut and added a little folded toilet paper as a makeshift bandage. From there I searched out another trail to the ‘boiling pot’ at the bottom of the falls that Julianna had recommended as a can’t miss. This consisted of going down about 1,000 steps to the bottom, taking a few pictures, then huffing back up those steps (all the while with the elevated hands!). Satisfied that I had taken in all the best views, I headed out of the park with a trip to Zimbabwe in my sights! On the way out I ran into the people I had heard talking about scouting and asked if they had a band-aid. They eagerly responded, got out a first aid kit, broke open a sterile bandage and wrapped me up we enough gauze to treat a gunshot wound – but I was very thankful. They said: ‘scouts are always prepared’ — I replied that I was a scout too, but not prepared, so I very much appreciated their saving my life, and honor :).
Having semi-successfully toured the Zambian side, and with 2 hours to go until I was to be picked up, and headed for the border to get in a quick visit to Zimbabwe. The view from Zimbabwe, as reported by Julianna, was even more fantastic because it was slightly further away on other side of the river. After passing through immigration I headed to the Zimbabwe falls park, paid my entrance fee (again, second person into the park) and picked up the pace a little so that I could fit everything in. Once inside the gate I jogged to the far end of the park for what looked like the best vista, and then worked my way back from there along the river to the entrance. I was glad to have started at the far end, because by the time I was back close to the entrance I was surrounded by multiple large groups of tourists. Somehow the views were a bit more majestic minus the throngs of tourists. Regardless, the whole experience was wonderful, and it was pretty hard to leave. I stretched it out to the last moments, jogged back out of the pack, to immigration, got a new Zambian visa, and made it back for my 10am pickup. Below are the highlights of the pictures:
I got back to the lodge for a quick breakfast with Julianna, we packed up, and said goodbye to our lovely experience to head back into town. The rest of the day consisted of touring the backpackers Julianna had lived at, reconnecting with her friends on staff there, and revisiting a couple of gift shops to pick up some items Julianna had been regretting not getting the previous time around. We had a wonderful pizza and salad lunch at Olga’s (where she had had her solo birthday celebration), and spent the last hour before heading to the airport trying to finalize my travel plans for the journey home (more on that in the next post!). Finally, we got on the plane and headed back to Lusaka. All in all, we packed a lot of fun into a short excursion, and enjoyed a wonderful time on our mini anniversary trip.