Ah, Victoria Falls… I may be seeing you again soon. I just hope I can get over this bloody flu before flying out in two days!!!
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.
Another shot of that spectacular, lingering sunset on the Upper Zambeezi. At this point the liquor had been flowing and the group was in good spirits. We can’t say the same for the morning. When we woke up the next day to take on the category 5 rapids below the falls we weren’t the happiest campers. It was still a great day, and most of us had recovered by lunch time. But here’s a pro tip, if you get the white water rafting + booze cruise combo at Jolly Boys, Livingstone, do the booze cruise after the rafting… not the night before!
In a previous post (Dip on a Rebel Elephant) I wrote about how Soniko and Chris’s elephant was a bit of a rebel. Here, early in the trip, you can see it stopping for an unplanned snack. I feel I should mention that Soniko and Chris didn’t plan on getting so cozy atop a munching herbivore. When the elephants were being assigned, there were three available for single riders. A man there with his two daughter’s jumped at the opportunity, quickly followed by Soniko and Chris. Unfortunately, one of the elephants decided that it didn’t feel like going for a walk so was left behind, putting Chris and Soniko on the worst behaved elephant they had. Sharing was probably a good thing, at least they could share some of the trauma they went through. This included charging through thorn bushes, swimming through crocodile infested water, and regular breaking into a trot as the handler tried to slow it down. All the while, they must have heard the sound of Shannon and I laughing off in the distance. All summed up though, they definitely had the most adventure.
Soniko had a knack for finding himself in the most exciting situations. It was interesting because, as he readily admits, he was the person in the group least interested in the more adrenaline filled aspects. Despite this, he got to sit closest to the open doors of a Huey Helicopter, in Cape Town, for a simulated combat ride. He was first to get thrown from our raft on the rapids of the Middle Zambezi. He was even the first to get involved in a staring match with an agitated silver-back gorilla in Rwanda (until he snuck behind Cameron as evidenced by this video… watch the navy blue legs move behind the khaki ones). That being said, he survived it all and definitely seemed to enjoy himself.
I’ve mentioned before that it’s not easy shooting while straddling a lumbering elephant. My three exposures for this shot weren’t even close to being lined up. As a result, this is an HDR image from a single RAW.
During the wet season water cascades over these cliffs. During the dry season you get to walk along them. It’s amazing how the water carves this chasm in the landscape. While down in the gorge rafting I felt like we were surrounded by mountains. As a result, when I went micro-lighting a couple of days later I was shocked to see just how flat the landscape is. It’s completely flat, all the way to the horizon, but for this fissure gouged out of the Earth’s surface. Also shocking is the zig-zag shape of the gorge as the waterfall has cut back on itself, forever retreating, the old face of the waterfall being left dry as a new face evolves.
I shot 7 exposures bracketed from -3 to +3 but decided that the two extremes were not adding any detail so I only used 5 exposures, bracketed from -2 to +2. After running the exposures through Photomatix I actually masked in a lot of the original photos to keep the shadows looking natural. I really like the details that have come out in the turbulent water below. You can get a closer look by clicking the image and selecting a larger size.
After a day on a bus, from Livingstone to the Lower Zambezi, we arrived at our home for the night, Zambezi Breezers. Upon arriving it was immediately clear where we would be spending our evening. This shot is taken on a deck built out over the banks of the Zambezi.
Sitting and relaxing, as the sun retired, we watched chartered fishing boats make their way back to their respective lodges and locals make their daily commute home by canoe. They all traveled the crocodile and hippo infested waters with the same manner of craft. They were very simple and appeared to be made from one tree trunk. The back-end seemed to always be submerged and while paddling they let their legs dangle over the sides into the water.
Jollyboys Hostel menu of activities includes a combo price for white water rafting and a booze cruise. It sounds like a fantastic idea and it really is. What’s not such a good idea is indulging in the booze cruise the night before the rafting. Although, taking category 5 rapids head on is probably the best hangover cure in the world, unless you’re Cameron.
There are a lot of booze cruises going on in Bermuda and they’re great. But this one was a completely different concept all together. First of all, we were on a river. Second of all the water was chock full of hippos and crocodiles. On shore, you can see elephants and warthogs. It really is an incredible experience. The open bar doesn’t hurt. We paused to watch the sun dip below the horizon before heading back to dock, and I snapped this photo. It’s a pretty basic sunset shot, which I wouldn’t normally take, but I thought the clouds were particularly interesting. I used my 14mm lens to compress the sky into the image.
This is where the hike to the Devil’s Pool at the top of the Victoria Falls becomes a swim. The pool is located just on the other side of this waterfall. To get there, you have to swim up-stream against the current and then across. There’s a rope strung across in case anyone should succumb to the force of the water. Fortunately, it’s not actually a particularly difficult swim.