Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Out of Africa

This is the last day in Johannesburg, we are heading back home in the evening.  We used the day to visit Lion Park, basically a zoo, near Jo'burg, to cuddle lion cubs.  It was strange to see animals caged, after so many visits to parks where they are free roaming.   Lion cubs were very cute!  We saw rare white lions.

We used the last few hours in South Africa to head towards Pretoria. Our way there led us next to a shantytown. 

We visited the Voortrekker Monument - a monument to Afrikaner - Dutch pioneers who colonized Southern Africa, and to their leader Pretorius.  The monument also offers a superb view of Pretoria.

And then, it was time to board the plane.  Almost two months ago, I boarded a plane to ZA uncertain about what lay ahead.  Now, I am boarding the plane back to New York, and feel sad to leave Africa behind.  One last sunset at the airport...

Monday, July 28, 2014

In Zambia

We crossed the border to Zambia, and arrived in Livingstone on Sunday evening, being very tired after the rafting trip.  We had a delicious meal of Kenyan-style T bone steak and Zambian goat in Cafe Zambezi.

In the afternoon, we were flying to Johannesburg.  Still, there was a bit of time to visit the Victoria Falls from the Zambian side.  This side of the falls is MUCH wetter than the Zimbabwean side, and we were completely soaked in no time!  We were also able to come close to the ridge of the falls, and were rewarded with many rainbows.

Later that day, we arrived to Jo'burg - I realized that that was my fifth arrival to Jo'burg during this trip, 3 of those by air.  Being almost regular visitors, we hopped in a rental car and headed to the city, finishing the day with a steak at The Grill House - one last time this trip.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Exploring the canyons of Zambezi

The Zambezi river is the fifth largest river in Africa. After the Victoria falls, the quiet river has rapids at the bottom of 100m deep gorge.  This is the number one destination for white water rafting in the world, with fast and turbulent rapids. Having traveled all the way to the heart of Africa and the Zambezi river, it was hard to resist this opportunity to get off the beaten track and experience nature away from the crowds.  And what a great ride through the canyons of the Zambezi it was.  The sheer force of water had created deep gorges through which the Zambezi found its way to the Indian Ocean.

An almost philosophical lesson learnt from white water rafting:  You cannot hide from a rapid or a wave - if you try, you will fail. If you paddle into the middle of a rapid with all your strength, you can go over the wave and you will be able to smile and wave to the camera at the end, no matter what category a rapid is classified as.

Our team paddled fiercely, nobody fell off the boat, the boat was not turned upside down, and we were able to cheer for the camera at the end!  The views were gorgeous and we had a great time close up with nature at its best.




Saturday, July 26, 2014

Part II: by air

In the afternoon we took a helicopter scenic flight, known as the "Flight of Angels" - because that is how the angels see the falls when they are flying over them.  The mighty Victoria falls is breathtaking from the air and close up.  You can see the spray of the falls, and you can hear the thunder of the falls from miles away. The native name for the falls is Mosi-oa-Tunya which means the Smoke that Thunders. At night, I could not fall asleep because of the thunder of the falls.

Mike captured our flight on video, you can check it here.

That evening we had a farewell group dinner at Mama Africa - we said good buy to our fellow travelers, our guides and to a memorable 2000km journey through three amazing countries.  The  hunter pot - a warthog stew - was delicious.  Good buy to our fellow travelers - such a wonderful group of people we had a chance to spend time with!

After the dinner we went to party and dance with friends we had met.