My first tie on elephant-back safari was on my first trip to Africa in 2011. We went in Zambia. The elephants all have a handler assigned to them from when they’re babies. This little guy was in training, happily trundling along next to its mother. You can see her shadow on the ground where he’s standing.
As you drive from Livingstone to the Victoria Falls, there’s a moment, before you get there, where you can see the mist reaching for the sky directly ahead of you. When you enter the park, before you feel the mist, you can hear the falls roaring in the distance. Before you can see the falls, you feel the air get moist and see the mist swirl around you as you pass the gate. Then, you stop, and your jaw drops as you see the massive curtain of water tumbling into the rift stretching ahead of you. But, this is just the beginning. The gorge continues on and on as you continue to walk. Eventually you reach the end of Zambia, totally soaked to the skin, camera gear screaming for mercy, and the curtain of water disappears into a cloud of mist where it crosses the border to Zimbabwe.
It was at this point that I stopped and watched three tourists, far more prepared than me, with a guide and ponchos, gaze upon what is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
My first trip to Africa was entirely inspired by a forwarded e-mail showing people swimming in the Devil’s Pool right on the edge of Victoria Falls. In order to do this we had to go at low water, which was an incredible experience. However, I can safely say that a return at high water was necessary to truly appreciate the grandeur of the falls.
Where you can see the fall in this picture is where we walked across the last time we were here, it was bone dry. This time, mist swirled everywhere and it didn’t take long for me to get completely soaked.
I’ve been talking with my travel buddy a lot today about our future plans. We’re confident that we’ll be going to Livingstone and the Victoria falls. This will be my second visit and her first. As you may be aware the last time I was there I went swimming in the Devil’s Pool. As it turns out, it looks like the water levels will still be low enough when we get there for us to take a dip atop the falls. I am very much looking forward to watching the look on her face as she takes the plunge.
With that in mind, I thought I’d post a picture capturing what we’re likely to see as we make the walk to the Devil’s Pool. Last time, this beautiful double rainbow greeted me shortly before we prepared to swim across the top of that waterfall to the Devil’s Pool. When I hung my head over the edge and looked down from the Devil’s Pool I realized that rather than a double rainbow there was actually a triple rainbow in the swirling mist. Next time I’m there I hope to get down to the falls for some sunrise/sunset shots.
The Victoria Falls during the dry season was an incredible experience. The gorge ripped open by the force of the Zambezi was clearly on display. We were able to walk across the top of the falls to swim in the Devil’s Pool and hang our heads over the edge, and I was able to take this photo of the rainbow born of the spray from the torrent just around the corner.
I enjoyed my time there so much that I’m planning on going back in January. This will give me the chance to experience the full power of the falls as it will be during the wet season. I’m also hoping to coordinate my visit with the full moon in the hope that I’ll get to see the lunar rainbow.
I found this image of a fisherman in Zambia, with his dugout canoe, that I processed quite a while ago but never posted it. I think at the time I was going through a panoramic phase and decided I needed to post something that wasn’t in this format. Then, I forgot about this image. Upon finding it, I remembered I like it and that it should be online.
Baobab trees really are fascinating. Grand in stature they loom over the Zambian landscape like giants frozen in time. Surprisingly, they are completely hollow on the inside. We got to experience this first hand when our guides took us to a lodge where they’ve actually put a door in the side of one of these mammoth trees that opens up to reveal a bathroom! This discovery was pretty shocking, but I found that people actually used this toilet more shocking. Just above head height, sleeping inside the tree were a handful of bats. I wonder how many people wound up running out with their pants around their ankles after startling the bats.
Another interesting thing about baobabs is that their greatest enemy is elephants. Using their tusks, they peel the trees and eat the bark, causing big holes to form. We can see the result of this practice in today’s picture.