All good things come to an end. It’s been an incredible 10 day tour with Intrepid and I’ll miss everyone very much, but I am looking forward to staying in one place for a bit and having a real shower!
Today we woke up – can you guess? Nice and early. Even earlier than normal actually as we planned to be packed up and gone by 6:30am, which we were successful with. We did this so those of us leaving the tour today could get to white water rafting as it’s the only chance we’d get.
The tour continues for another 8 days looping back through Botswana into jo’burg, and about half the group is staying on for that.
Anyway, got up, had only about a 45 min drive if that to the border. Got stamped out of Botswana quite quickly. Made our way to the Zimbabwe border control and had a nice long wait.
Side note: Canada seems to have pissed Zimbabwe off as they charge us $75 for a visa while other countries are max of $50. I’d appreciate it if the government of Canada would reimburse me for the inconvenience as it wasn’t me who pissed them off.
Zimbabwe also writes out all the visa information by hand which seems to take them quite a while to do, so after the group had all paid and dropped off the passports we all had to wait around another 20 mins or so to get that done.
The border controls at these countries are really crazy. Talk about an opportunity for efficiencies. It’s so bizarre since I have the US/Canada land border crossing to compare it to. I can’t even imagine what they would do if this type of delay existed there.
All made it through, no problems. Another hour or so drive from there towards Victoria Falls where we landed at the Victoria Falls Rest Stop. As we only had a limited amount of time to catch the white water rafting we quickly made our way to there to buy tickets, get changed and get ready to go. Bags etc were all left on the bus.
We got the safety information, signed up for the video and photo package and chatted a bit more before catching the bus down towards the rapids. About a 20 min ride from there. Once we got in we got suited up with a life jacket, helmet and our oars, then we had to descend this massive mountain which took us a good 20 mins to walk down. Hint: in this case what goes down must come up.
We reach the water (finally) huffing and puffing, bloody hot, and jump into our two rafts. We had split into two groups – one of 5 and another of 4. Somehow Jason and I must have appeared to be capable of sitting at the front as we were both drafted for this. Jason had done this before so he was quite confident, me not as much though I did mask it well I think.
Training ensued as we pushed off. Go forward, turn, backwards, get down, what to do if you fall off, everyone get out and get back in, smile for a picture and we were off!
There were about 12 rapids to go through if I recall correctly, ranging from category 2 – 5. We were getting hit pretty hard at a level 3 and the other boat lost a couple of the passengers around then quite quickly. One got back pretty fast, Nat wound up circling around a bit and gave everyone a bit of a scare. She hopped back on our boat for a bit.
We had to disembark so we could walk across since it was too narrow ahead for us so we did that. We climbed up on to what turned out to be the Zambia side and made our way across a quite nice hike area.
I should stop and mention the scenery here. Incredible. Truly breathtaking. I mean truly. Can’t describe it, can’t capture it properly, it was just incredible. I’m not going to drone on about it but there were little water falls everywhere and the sides go up about 800m so really just incredible.
After everyone made it across we all hopped back into the rafts and sailed along into the next rapid. Here my boat half capsized and the other tipped over entirely. I managed to just hang on, Robert and Jason were thrown off along with Sergio. Robert hopped back on quickly, Jason was picked up by another boat but Sergio was under for a bit. One of the safety boats caught him eventually, so we had another little scare there.
After the other boat righted itself we continued on our way and it was more or less smooth sailing from here. And by that I mean no one flipped or fell off. Still quite eventful and fun though.
We made it through all the rest upright (after a few close calls) quite tired, to be told we’d be hiking back up the very very very steep hill (800m or so virtually straight up). And…go!
So we went. Now I know I’m not in the very best shape, but this was a nice reminder of just how out of shape I am. Everyone huffed and puffed their way up, me with several rest breaks as I watched the Africans run up along side me, carrying the rafts and all that other stuff. Nothing like that to make you feel old.
Made it to the top, finally. Had a lovely BBQ, cold beer water and soft drinks and a really lovely lunch. At that point I just desperately wanted water. A good 10 mins later I was back alive.
Hung around there for a bit. Couple of group pictures and back in the truck for the 45 min drive back to town. I was done. Like done done. So was everyone else.
Unfortunately I didn’t realize how much this would take out of me so I had booked a sunset cruise with a bunch of the rest of the group right after, so only had about 45 mins to chill.
I decided to do a room upgrade for the last night – kinda done with the whole tent thing, but we were informed they were mostly all gone but Nat and I were able to get a two bedroom and split it.
We were commenting today how much lower our standards have gotten. I’d never stay in a room like this in Canada, but it’s a room! And it’s got a shower and bathroom, so… sold!
We cleaned ourselves off and made our way to the meetup with everyone else.
Made it out to the river cruise which was lovely. Included were drinks and snacks. By this point I was truly exhausted and I had already seen all the animals really so I basically got a bit smashed on some very generous run and cokes and had a great chat with the rest of the group. Turned out to be really nice, glad I did it.
That one ran a couple hours, then our bus driver Mike took us back. Dinner was pretty soon after so we got ready for that quickly. It wasn’t included tonight – last night was the last one the guys made for us, so we went to the restaurant at the camp site as a group for one last meal together which was very nice.
Everyone went around the table a bit and said how they were doing with everything, everyone seemed to have a very positive impression of the trip which I agree wholeheartedly with. We had some entertainment again from a group of African singers and dancers and they managed to pull a couple of the ladies up to do some dancing – not me this time, thankfully.
We didn’t get a chance to see the falls yet with our full day itinerary so we’re up nice and early tomorrow for our very last day and those who haven’t had the chance yet will go down there for a couple hours before we catch the transfers to the airport.
And now I’m exhausted and going to bed. Next post will be from Cape Town where I’ll have real internet, so I’ll finally be able to post all these entries I’ve been collecting! G’night from Africa!