Following on from the last African post, we planned a day to go to Victoria Falls. Candy (see part 3) booked the trip for us and we were collected at the hotel and taken to the Kazangula ferry. Here we are on the Botswana side of the river!
Kazungula is a small border town in the southern Province of Zambia, lying on the north bank of the Zambezi river about 70 kilometres (45 miles) west of Livingstone. At Kazungula, the territories of four countries (Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia) come close to meeting up. The ferry is a fairly basic, old and rattly, used-for-years pontoon which traverses the river, which is 400 metres (1,300 ft) wide at this point.
A bridge is being built by an Asian company at a cost of US$234 million and construction commenced in December 2014 It is expected to be completed in December 2018. At present all transport, including very large transcontinental trucks, has to cross by ferry. There have been several accidents, sinking of ferries and unfortunately, many lives lost. The bridge will make life very much easier for business, residents and tourists, but I assume that tolls will be levied to recoup that $234 million!
You can see here the size of those trucks and their double-trailer loads; the ferries are usually overloaded and extremely low in the water, so accidents can be expected! We were foot passengers, along with many locals, all of us hoping we wouldn't end up swimming!
Arriving in Livingstone, Zambia after a one hour trip in a minibus on a smooth tarmac road. Unfortunately it was raining, and although we were driven around and shown the sights, it was not good weather for photos!
I did get a passing shot of Livingstone High Court.
By the time we reached the magnificent Victoria Falls, the rain had stopped. Not that it would have made much difference, as due to the spray we got soaked anyway! It is not surprising that the local name for it is Mosi-oa-Tunya meaning "the smoke that thunders" I have seen the falls previously from the Zimbabwe side, but I think they are even more dramatic from the Zambian side.
While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest, based on its combined width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 metres (354 ft), resulting in the world's largest sheet of falling water.
David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls on 16 November 1855. He named the falls after Queen Victoria, but Mosi-oa-Tunya remains the local popular name. His meeting on 10 November 1871 with Henry Morton Stanley, a journalist and explorer who went to look for him, gave rise to the popular quotation "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"
We were being scrutinised carefully while walking around. If you ignore them they will generally ignore you. It is not wise to try to feed them, (or any wild animal for that matter); baboons have massive teeth which are like knives. I have seen (I used to work for a vet) the damage that they can do to large dogs- not pleasant.
Chacma baboon (Papio ursinus).
Impossible to get the whole falls in one photo, even with my wide angle lens!
Fluttering around in the trees was a paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone viridis). This has to be a female, as the male has a very long tail!
Nigel and I standing at the back of the falls; you can see its cloud of spray in the distance behind us.
Victoria Falls bridge. The siting of the bridge came under huge criticism, as it was felt that it would intrude on the natural beauty of the gorge and detract from the Falls themselves, but many years later, opinion softened after the bridge structure was hailed as one of the finest achievements of Victorian engineering and design.
The Victoria Falls bridge was a crucial link in the route of a railway running the length of Africa, the planning of which the famous Cecil John Rhodes envisioned.
To ensure accuracy in the manufacture, the bridge was assembled in sections at the Cleveland Bridge Company factory yard in Darlington, England before being shipped to Africa.
The main arch of the bridge was joined on 1 April 1905. The two centre girders of the arch were in place by sunset 31st March, but they overlapped to the extent of about 1 ¼ inches. When work started at sunrise next morning, it was found that the bridge had contracted during the night to the extent of exactly 1 ¼ inches. The two centre girders had dropped into place and fitted perfectly!!
The official opening ceremony took place on 12th September 1905. Sir Charles Metcalfe, an engineering friend of Rhodes, made a welcoming speech to declare the Victoria Falls bridge was officially open.
“I should like to have the spray of the water (of the Victoria Falls) over the carriages.” – Cecil John Rhodes
My shot of a bungee jumper from the bridge - he survived!; it seems to be a very popular pastime. There is a 111m (364ft) drop on the bungee, falling almost into the Zambezi River. They are very welcome, but I would much rather watch!!
Seen on a rock just off the path- Variegated Skink (trachylepis variegata).
Our driver kindly drove us over to Zimbabwe and had a chat to the customs officers there. We were were allowed out of the car, so we could walk back to Zambia across the bridge!
Nigel, Patrick and Christelle crossing the bridge. Nigel was still trying to stay dry, with a raintop over wet t-shirt and shorts (!). I guess Christelle and Patrick had given up !
Nigel and I on the bridge, looking rather under-dressed in the swirling spray!
Driving back to the hotel - a little memento from near the Botswana border.
Baobab tree. (Adansonia digitata) It is a tree from prehistoric times, that can live, so they say, for up to 1,500 years. They vary in size, up to 30 metres (99 feet) in height and 11 metres (36 feet) in diameter, and this one is at the larger end of the scale! Baobab has the only fruit in the world that dries naturally on its branches. Instead of dropping and spoiling, it stays on the branch and bakes in the sun for 6 months - transforming its green velvety coating into a hard coconut-like shell. The pulp of the fruit dries out completely and that when processed is what we know as "cream of tartar"!