Swimming atop Victoria Falls
One thing I discovered on this trip is that safety regulations are really lax in other countries! You can get away with a lot more than you can back home. Which is how I unexpectedly found myself swimming atop Victoria Falls!
Our first night in the hostel, I made a new friend, Nell. She’s traveling around the world doing some super cool research, which you can read about on her blog. Nell mentioned that she had just signed up for a Livingstone Island tour the next day. That was actually something that we had been thinking about, so we decided to all go together. All of the time slots included meal service, so we opted for afternoon tea, since it was one of the cheaper options.
The boat departed from the Royal Livingstone Hotel, which is amongst the swankiest hotels I’ve ever set foot in. It was breathtakingly beautiful, with a gorgeous deck right on the Zambezi river. Apparently rooms start at $800 USD/night so, unless I win the lottery, I don’t think I’ll have the chance to stay there any time soon! Then our tour starts. For our group, it’s the 4 of us, plus 2 Australian women. We set off towards the island in a small motor boat…. and I can’t believe how close we’re getting to the edge of the falls! Unbelievable!
Then we get off on Livingstone Island. Not know what to expect, I’m picturing tea and crumpets on some island; a similar vibe to the African Queen river cruise. Boy, was I wrong! Our guide, Jeremiah, then splits us up into two groups, gives us rain coats and walks us RIGHT ON TOP OF VICTORIA FALLS! I had no idea we would be doing anything like that! He walked each us to the very edge of the falls and took a few photos of us. Unbelievable, right? And a rainbow, to boot!
Here he is, the man himself who “discovered” Victoria Falls. I have to say, I just hate it when people throw around the word discovered like that, and gloss over all the indigenous people who lived there for hundreds of years. But it seems that the locals admired Dr. Livingstone (at least that’s the story that is projected). It’s one thing to fly to Zambia, drive to the Falls, and take a motor boat to the island in 2012; I cannot fathom being so brave as to sail around the world and trek through the jungles to get to the Falls back in 1855!
We walked up a little further. The path is basically made up of hippo tracks. They are deceptively deep!
When we made our way up the little hill, Jeremiah told us we could SWIM in the water adjacent to the falls! I think our first reaction was “yeah right!” In fact, we had been told by numerous people that, since it was rainy season, the water levels would be too high, and the currents too swift to get in the water. Not to mention, none of us had brought swim suits! But then it hit me – this truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t go. So I said I’d do it, and just go in my skivvies. And everyone else joined! We had to make our way across the river on various rocks, holding hands in a chain to prevent anyone from getting pulled by the currents (that’s not scary at all…). Then we crouched down and entered a small pool of water. Once inside, Jeremiah helped us, one at a time, cross the pool to the further side. Not only was it the highlight of my Africa trip, but it truly was one the most exhilarating and exciting experiences of my entire life. In that moment, I felt incredibly blessed and thankful to be in that particular place, at that particular moment.
We all knew we were high up, but I don’t think I realized just how high until I saw other peoples’ photos online! Perhaps it’s for the best I didn’t see this one until afterwards…
After all that, we made our way back to the other side of the island, for a lovely afternoon tea service. We all tried the Pimms & Lemonade, which was suggested by the owner of our hostel, as well as a full spread of appetizers and desserts.
After tea, we dried off and changed ( A Loo With A View… hilarious!) before heading back to the Royal Livingstone.
We stuck around for cocktails and the sunset.
I could get used to this!
Best day ever! Between this and the shark cage diving, I think I’ve earned some street cred!