Moonlight at Victoria Falls

Thu, 28 Feb 2002 04:40:04 +0800

Moonlight at Victoria Falls

I arrived in Livingstone, Zambia on the 25th. I'm staying at a place called Jolly Boys. It's the first traditional backpacker hostel I have seen since Nairobi. Similar to what I stayed at in Australia on the last trip: Dorm rooms, pool, ping pong table, and staffed by a couple of 20 something English girls.

Livingstone is across the river from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The plan was to collect first hand reports of what it is really like traveling in Zimbabwe. That worked. Unfortunately, the result is not what I had hoped for. The consensus is that the town of Victoria Falls is reasonably safe but Masvingo (and thus, Great Zimbabwe) is just too far in. If the situation deteriorated, it would be difficult to get out in time. Later, I learned that foreigners are essentially being evacuated from Zimbabwe. People with rooms reserved for weeks are being flown out. Today is the last day that people with British passports will be allowed in. Tomorrow,, they will be turned back at the border.

The current plan is to defer the Great Zimbabwe leg until just before or just after Madagascar. Great Zimbabwe isn't much further from Pretoria, South Africa then it is from Livingstone. The situation may not be any better in April or May, but at least it should be clear.

Next phase will be an overland tour through Botswana and Namibia ending in Cape Town. There is a 4 week tour starting on the 3rd and a 3 week tour starting on the 7th. I hoping to get some brochures today to make that decision a little more clear. I'm not real crazy about the idea of a 4 week long camping tour but the idea of an extra 4 days here doesn't bring joy either.

It's not like there is nothing to do here, far from it, but much of it is over hyped and over commercialized and has little to do with Africa. It also tends to be expensive. For the same cost of some of the pricier activities, I could replace the compact camera I lost in Dar.

The falls, however, are cheap to visit and worth every penny. I went out to Victoria Falls yesterday and again that night. Loads of beautiful scenery, rainbows cast in the spray. I won't try to describe them further. You need at least a picture, and probably a first hand view to really appreciate them.

As it happens, last night was a full moon. I went out with a group from the hostel to view the falls by moon light and, in particular to see lunar rainbows. We were not disappointed. The rainbows were plain to see. At one point, the was a unbroken semi-circle from the top of the gorge to the bottom. The rainbows are dim, however. Color is very faint. I tried to get a photo, but it was just too dim. Maybe if I had a tripod and knew a little about setting shutter speeds it could be done. But with no tripod and auto-exposure, the exposure time was just unworkable.