The smoke that thunders – Victoria Falls

This post is part of the April 2015 A to Z Challenge. Find the challengers via the Blog Sign-Up or on Twitter using #AtoZChallenge.

You can hear Victoria Falls long before you see them. The majestic waterfall on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe drops into a narrow gorge, amplifying the crashing water’s echo throughout the gorge and beyond. It can be heard in Livingstone, Zambia and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

The Zambezi is a mighty river, home to hippos and crocodiles, it also provides the livelihood for many of the people living along its shores.

At the time of our visit in December 2006, it’s the height of summer and there is a drought, diminishing the Zambezi’s water capacity. While Victoria Falls are still awe-inspiring, thundering away and leaving a fine mist for miles around, we’re told that the falls are completely covered by water during the rainy season.

Still, the amount of water on the Zambezi is enough to drench all of us with its fine mist. The locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya. The Smoke That Thunders.

Those who dare can spend hours on the Zambezi, white-water rafting at the bottom of Victoria Falls. Others opt for a Sunset Cruise from Livingstone, Zambia. Others still decide to bungee jump from the border bridge, in view of the Falls.

While we were staying in Zambia, we decided to get day visas and visit Zimbabwe. The town of Victoria Falls sits right next to the Falls, and offers tourists two very African adventures. A lodge on the outskirts of town offers safaris on the backs of their elephants. This is not recommended should you suffer from fear of heights and vertigo. The safari is rather short, but it is thrilling to ride such a majestic animal and see the wildlife from a different perspective. Throughout the ride, we could hear the call of the go-away-bird, the alarm system of the jungle. Their call really sounds like they’re saying “go away,” and they often alert other animals that danger is near and they should retreat. In this case, our elephants were the danger.

Later that day found us back at the same lodge, albeit on a different part of the estate. Because they offer a unique encounter: Walking With Lions! And yes, that is exactly what you do.

They take in lion cups and raise them, however, they often let them roam the estate to prepare them for life in National Parks and reserves. While the cups are still young enough (up to 8 months old) and still used to having a handler,  visitors can join them on a walk. Armed with a flimsy stick and two handlers who watch everyone’s back, we take the lions for a walk. The two lions we walk with even allow us to pet them for a little while.

To be able to get that close to some of the greatest predators of the savannah is amazing. And you appreciate them even more knowing how strong those cups already are and how they play with each other. the end you get a small certificate which says “I know no fear. I have walked with lions!”

At the end of your Lion Encounter, you get a small certificate which says: “I know no fear. I have walked with lions!”

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