Livingstone and the 'Vic' Falls
- Niamh O Riordan.
We stayed at a backpacker joint called “Jolly Boys”. What is a backpacker joint? It’s self-catering, cheap accommodation, with a restaurant and pool and filled to the brim with westerners, just like yourself, who imagine that they have in fact discovered “the real Africa” when in reality, they couldn’t be closer to home. We stayed in a thatched hut called the ‘Hippo’ room: it was hardly larger than the bed and the windows were made of netting. What Jolly Boys are good for is organizing activities.
We had been looking forward to the Vic Falls for a long time and Livingstone is the place to be if you plan on doing any of the hair razing activities you can do there. We decided to take a microlite over the falls and to book white water rafting as well as an ‘Adventure’ day.
We arrived at the take-off site just before dusk and would be the last to fly that day. The flight lasts a mere fifteen minutes and brings you out over the falls and back again. There you are, strapped in with a loose, little seatbelt and nothing around you but clear blue skies. No windows. No walls. No Ceiling. No floor. You are a flying bicycle with wings. The view, as you can imagine, was stunning. The take-off and landing were gut wrenching and all I wanted to do was another flight.
I decided I wouldn’t do the white water rafting with Malachy. I had had a taste of near drowning when we tried it in Jinja, Uganda and I was not in the mood for more. I kissed him goodbye, asked him not to get himself killed, and promptly ran out the door to join him. I don’t know what possessed me. But it was worth it. “Talk about the crocodile! The CROCODILE!” yells Malachy, sitting beside me. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, as we meandered down the mighty Zambezi River, between bouts of near-death rapids, we spotted a croc, lounging on a rock, working on his suntan. Was that before or after we went for a swim? I can’t quite remember. The rapids themselves were good too. Our guide was excellent. “If you end up under the raft, just shout, and I will swim down to you ‘Rambo Style’ and rescue you. But if I find you smoking a cigarette down there, I will not be happy!” He did a wonderful job. We would shoot a rapid and looking back at that wall of water he would say “You don’t want to go swimming there. If you go swimming there, you wont come up for two weeks.”
Then there was the adventure day. This involved some abseiling in the morning. I tried to rapel down the sheer cliff face (think Mission Impossible – you run down the cliff face first) but didn’t have the nerve. Malachy pulled it off though. Fair dues. Then there was the wire. They harness you onto a horizontal wire that stretches across the gorge and you run off the edge of the cliff and are carried across the gorge suspended from the wire. Malc did not enjoy this so much and I thought it was boring to be honest; I was psyched up for the swing. Imagine a pendulum, which starts from a horizontal position. But it’s actually a swing with two people strapped into it and when you begin to fall, you FREE fall for fifty or so meters first, before going into the swing. It’s difficult to imagine but that’s what we did. There are no words for the terror. I was glad when it started to rain because it meant we didn’t have do chicken out of doing it a second time.