A Travellerspoint blog

July 2009

Victoria Falls

Not Just a Waterfall!

sunny 23 °C

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Travelling 2000km to get to Vic falls was definitely worth it.

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They are incredible.. 1.8km wide, 100m deep (Niagra is about 1km wide and 40m deep).

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David Livingstone said of them “scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight..” as he imagined similar sights must be in heaven

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Before you see the falls you see plumes of smoke. we thought there were bush fires.. but then remembered that it is called 'Mosi-oa-Tunya' by the locals - 'Smoke That Thunders'

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Rob on the edge - getting very wet!.

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Noticed this sign whilst clambering back over the rail!

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Everywhere you look there are rainbows.. no pots of gold though!

Looking off the bridge we saw a circular rainbow – check out the video!

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A walk down the Gorge took us to the 'Boiling Pot' . We felt like we were in the Lord of the Rings as we looked up at the falls.

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We then bobbed up to the Bridge.. a feat of British engineering to make us proud of our heritage.. the gorge was measured, then the bridge parts forged in the UK. Assembly started in 1904 when they shot a rocket across the gorge with cable attached. The final piece was slotted into position early in the morning (before the sun warmed and expanded the metal) in 1906 and fitted perfectly!

The bridge is still fully functional for lorries, cars, trains and of course bungee jumpers!

It was a very strange feeling watching Gap year kids paying 125US$ to leap of the bridge while Zimbabweans tried to sell their billion and trillion dollar bills and others pushed their bikes across the bridge loaded with bread and eggs.

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On the way back from the falls we came across these eles crossing the Zambezi from Zimbabwe. A beautiful end to a beautiful day!

Posted by robandpol 08:58 Archived in Zambia Comments (4)

Chobe National park to Livingstone

4 countries in 1 day!

sunny 22 °C

Chobe NP is a spectacular park around the Chobe and Zambezi rivers.. the locals extremely friendly (as usual).

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This little guy gave us a delicious bream straight from the Zambezi.

The bird and animal life was astounding

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Giant King Fisher

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Fish Eagles

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all sorts of other birds enjoying sunset after a day's fishing!

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Hungry Crocs

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Sleepy Crocs

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a few giraffes

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and tonnes of elephants

We nipped across the river to a little island called Pole Pole in Namibia. The sum total of the amenities were a toilet and a bar. Total inhabitants were 5 people including us and were were privileged to be the first people this year to camp on the island.. partly because it was about 4ft under water a few months ago and partly because it isn't a campsite!

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Pol on Pole Pole in hammock

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Watching the locals Fish

The following day was to be our day of 4 countries.

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We started the day in Namibia on Pole Pole.

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Returned to Botswana

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Put a foot into Zimbabwe.. and then discovered that it was 55US$ each for the visa.

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So we returned to Botswana

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However we didn't miss the opportunity to make a few dollars before heading to a Backpackers in Livingstone.

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No elephants on this road but we did spot a couple of Giraffes peering at us through the bush!
And tomorrow we are off to the falls..

Posted by robandpol 08:02 Archived in Zambia Tagged bicycle Comments (7)

Elephant Encounters

too close for comfort

sunny 26 °C

NOW WITH PHOTOS!!!

On our last night in Planet Baobab we met 2 cool Saffa's (South Africans)who were returning from a fishing trip in the Okavango. Both were very experienced in the bush.. one was a Kruger game ranger.. they were very envious of our trip and very much encouraged us to avoid pricey campsites and rather wildcamp.. especially along the 300km of very wild road between between us and Vic Falls.

So off we went with new enthusiasm and courage to face the African bush!

We had a very successful ride from Planet Baobab to Nata.. we only had 2 short breaks:

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one break for breakfast

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and one break to check out this horiffic Baobab!

We arrived in Nata at 1.15 for lunch and to do a blog update having covered 97km.

20km out of Nata we stopped again to set up our camp. Within seconds off the road there was fresh evidence of elephants.. we ummed and ahhed but decided this was likely to be the same anywhere so went ahead and set up camp.

Pol collected firewood veraciously and we soon had enough to keep our campfire going for a week... (as she pointed out – one of the advantages of camping in elephant territory is that there is no shortage of firewood!)

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The most satisfying shower i've ever had!

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Wildcamping

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Emerging from the bush!

S0 in a very positive frame of mind we headed off in high spirits.. the plan was to cycle 40km to a the only lodge on the 300km road for breakfast and then continue deep into the bush for 2 more nights of wildcamping. Polly even said it would be nice to run into some elephants to round off the experience!

Polly's wish was soon granted. Cycling fast with a good tailwind, Polly infront, me 10m behind - I saw the elephant... CLOSE.... standing beside the road ears flapping... I wasn't quite sure what to do (didn't want to shout and aggravate the animal) I managed to say “Pol, Pol, Pol” which made her look up and spot the animal less than 20m ahead of her.

I'm not sure how she did it but in a blink of an eye she had stopped, turned her fully laden bike 180 and was about 100m away!

That ele was soon joined by a friend and they would not move away from the road..

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eventually they did move about 50m off the road and we snuck past in the shadow of a passing lorry..

On we trundlled slower and keeping a close eye on the bush.. the road narrowed and the bush became thick, directly abutting the road.

I was in the lead when I heard Pol exclaim “ELEPHANT!” I looked into the bush and there he was – a huge tusker 2-3m off the road 15-20m ahead. I screeched to a halt which startled him and he careered off into the bush. I swung the bike round and started pedalling when Pol screamed.. “Quick Rob, he's coming for you!” I looked over my shoulder and there he was.. coming back onto the road, full speed, tail bolt upright and looking pissed off! We pedalled fast and he didn't pursue us far.

We decided to hitch the last 12km to our breakfast stop!

Standing by the road waiting for a lift every rustle of leaves and movement out the corner of our eyes seemed like another ele. Waiting for what seemed like an eternity no cars passed.. we prayed that God would send us a lift soon and sure enough within a minute an empty school bus driven by a Christain school principle turned up and in we hopped.

From the school bus we saw that the ele we ran into was on the edge of a big family group with small babies, either side of the road. We definitely made the right decision to hitch!

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Elephant sands rapidly turned form our breakfast stop to a full day chill out and regroup. We hitched a ride with 2 Amercan photographers – Justin and Buddy for the remainder of 'Elephant Country' to a nice safe campsite in Kasane – 85km from vic Falls.

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Our kit in the back of Buddy's bakkie.

Having traversed the part of Africa with the highest density of elephants outside a protected area I think we can relax and enjoy some Game viewing in the spectacular Chobe National Park. Next stop Vic Falls!

Posted by robandpol 18:28 Archived in Botswana Tagged bicycle Comments (4)

Bombing along in Botswana

Land of enormous elephants and bulbous Baobabs

sunny 25 °C

Crossing the border into Botswana was an interesting affair. After negotiating the 30km of sandy track we were the 4th people at the border post which was a good thing as it took the border guy at least 40 mins to process us!

The Limpopo river forms the border between the 2 countries and we were suprised to find no bridge over it!

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Luckily it hasn't rained for a month so shoes came off and we headed across - keeping a close look out for cros and potholes... Unfortunatley Rob saw a deep pothole too late, fell off the bike and almost lost the contents of his bar box!! Lucky our bags are waterproof!

On the Botswana side there was immediately evidence of elephants close by. We had been told that Botswana has a serious elephant problem with 130,000 too many. A huge cull had been organised but the "greenies" have paid the government E25 000 000 Euros not to shoot them. The eles are running riot and Botswana is rapidly turning from savannah to dessert.

We found our way to the campsite and it looked as if there had been a war in it - broken trees everywhere and very fresh ele prints..... then we saw them.

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and made a hasty retreat!

We were shown to an alternative campsite (the active one) which did look elephant free and Rob was given a fishing rod to try and catch dinner.... so all was well.

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However as soon as darkness came so did the elephants!

We had a very restless night stoking the camp fire every 2 hrs and listening to trumpeting elephants breaking trees on three sides of the tent!

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Polly very happy by our precious fire after having survived the night!

The rest of Botswana has been flat flat flat, hot in the day and cold at night. Villages are scarce and campsites even scarcer.

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Magnificent Baobabs break the monotony of the long straight roads.

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Next stop is Vic Falls but to get there we have to traverse 300km of bad road with abundant elephants, occasional lion and no campsites...... watch our blog in about 5 days to see how it went....!

Posted by robandpol 05:17 Archived in Botswana Tagged bicycle Comments (6)

Week 3 30/06 - 06/07

Diphuti (1st stop in Limpopo) - Alldays (Last stop in Limpopo, AND South Africa)

Highlights

Transversed Limpopo
First 90+km day (97km Diphuti - Tzaneen)
Eating as much as we could in KFC after cycling 91km before lunch

Lowlights

Diarrhoea and vomiting as a result of KFC (Pol)
Being shown a selection of kitchen knives in an outdoor shop when I asked for the chat on the knives (Pol) (pol subsequently bought the biggest baddest knife you have ever seen!)

Things we like

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KFC

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Downhill lorry signs

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The Yellow line (stops lorries hittting you)

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Creative furniture

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Friendly logging lorries up steep hills

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Artistic fruit vendors

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Limpopo's flat roads

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The Dedicotes

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Limpopo's luscious Citrus fruits

Things we don't like

Cycle short tan lines

Limpopo drivers who think honking at cyclists substitutes avoiding them

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KFC

Uphill lorry signs

The cat who ate almost all our bacon when we weren't looking in Diphuti

Hope you've all had a good week.

Posted by robandpol 03:42 Comments (8)

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