Day 303: Feeling The Spray

Wed. 12th June 2013

Me nervous?In the interests of taking photos of Dave on his microlight flight, I forgo my lie in and we set off at 6:30am pre breakfast to the airdrome. There were two microlights, engines running and ready to fly. After Dave had signed in we watched the two guys ahead in the queue take off for their 15 minute flights. It was then Dave’s turn to put on his jumpsuit and have a quick safety briefing. He clambered into the backseat of the recently returned microlight and was soon taxiing down the runway. It does not need much of the runway before it is airborne and disappears from view.

Above the fallsI will leave him to write about his flight (typical, a few words has turned into over 400!). In principle, the microlight is just a kite with a lawnmower engine on the back. Fortunately, when we saw it in the flesh, it was much more professional and robust – moulded seats, clean aluminium for the wing struts and shiny fairings over the wheels. It also helped being the second flight of the day in that I got to see a flight successfully completed before it was my turn. Helmet on and strapped in to my bucket seat above and behind the pilot, I certainly have a great view.

I'm backIt’s just a short take-off run along a dirt airstrip and then we’re up and away. As we climb up, it’s all smooth and with my headphones on (I can hear and talk to the pilot) it is quieter than expected too. I just try to concentrate on the sights below and not about what would happen if I climbed out of my seat – I really don’t know why I’d want to think about that let alone do it!

Dave over the fallsAnd what a view. We head down the Zambezi past the Royal Livingstone and Zambezi Sun hotels, where we stayed the other night, and then past the falls on the Zambia side. Looking down along the length of the falls, I get easily the best view of them that I’ve had to date (at least as good as Janet’s helicopter trip). Even more I get a feel for the sheer volume of water coming over the falls. The pilot banks the plane(?) so that the camera mounted on the wing-tip gets a shot of us with the falls in the background all lit up by the early morning sun.

Falls in dry seasonFrom up here, you also really get to see and appreciate the zigzag gorges that take the river away from the falls (with Elephant Hills in the background). It’s only a 15 minute flight, but we do have time to loop around the falls and then do a figure-of-eight that takes us through the spray. As we fly over Livingstone island, in the middle of the river, right on the crest of the falls, the pilot explains that in the dry season the Zambia side is completely dry. Its here, in the dry season that you can swim in the Devil’s Pool, right on the edge and look down into the gorge below.

One happy chappyAll too soon, we’re heading back to the airstrip – passing over elephants, hippos and buffalos on one of the islands that dot the river. I wasn’t allowed to take my camera aboard – a mix of safety and wanting to sell their own photos, I suspect. So, I did buy their photos and luckily am able to access them using the CD drive at our campsite internet cafe so have included some as well as ones Janet took.

Our Executive LodgeThe return to our lodge was on an open sided safari truck so I was glad of the extra fleece I was wearing as we sped along the main road. It was cold!! After yesterdays overcooked eggs we had declined a cooked breakfast and had to make do with instant coffee to warm up.

An old buildingAs there is absolutely nothing to do at our lodge and no food worth getting excited over, so it was off into town for a bite to eat and some last minute shopping. As we had not taken photos of the old buildings along the main street we headed that way and on glancing down a side street we spotted a barbers and Dave is overdue a haircut (so am I but I will wait until I am safely back home and in Sarah’s hands!).

Nervous twice in one day!After grabbing a pie for lunch, Dave had plucked up the courage to go to the ‘Happy’ barber’s where the price list stated K30 for Caucasians and K13 for others. This is still only a few quid for a good going over with electric clippers. Dave cautiously said not as short as the other clients who looked like they were having a no 1. I am sure Alisa can sort his hair at his next cut after we get home.

Taxis everywhereAlthough Livingstone is bigger than Victoria Falls town we struggled with buying simple things like batteries and suncream. We soon gave up hunting and grabbed a taxi home, the driver said yes but did not know where our lodge was. That seems to be one of the traits of the locals, they are quick to say yes and then worry how to deliver the promise.

About Olga'sWe decided on Olga’s Italian restaurant (again, which shows how few restaurants there are to choose from) for our thirty first wedding anniversary dinner, as we knew they served good food. They also have a good community project. What a country/trip to be for our anniversary and I am a little jealous of Dave’s microlight trip and flying through the spray from the falls. However I do have my front seat helicopter experience to remember from the Zimbabwe side of the falls.

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