Sunday, May 9, 2010

Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia

OK, after the failed Namibia post, I decided to make a post of a much easier trip, our trip to Victoria Falls and Etosha National Park. The reason it is such an easy post is because there are not many pictures to include. Why? Well, it begins with the trip to Victoria Falls, where "spray" does not begin to explain the amount of water that pummels you from the falls. Luckily, my camera made it through the bath with no damage, however my travel companions cameras did not turn out as well. The viewfinders were gone, so the rest of the trip consisted of literally "pointing and shooting" without any idea of what was in the lens. Luckily, we had mine. So I take a bunch of photos, until my camera gets stolen in Botswana. After a chase involving metered cabs and minibus taxis, I gave up and declared it gone.
Besides the camera mishap, it was an incredible trip-- I got to see four of the big five animals, a wonder of the world, and eat truly local Zambian food with my hands.
We started by flying into Victoria Falls airport in Zimbabwe, spent a few days there before crossing into Zambia, and then from there crossing into Botswana, before crossing back to Zimbabwe to fly home.

So, we have pieced together enough photos from the group to represent our trip. As a side note, chronologically they ARE in order, but for some reason the blog posts them down to up, so they are in reverse chronological order... oops.

Sorry for the chronology issues... I PROMISE I will do the next one correctly.

Picture 1&2: LIONS! we saw four female, and one young male lion while on safari in Botswana. The second is a picture of the lions leaving their perch on top of the mound to chase a warthog that was walking in front of them. The second is their return to the hill after FAILING to catch the warthog. Did you know warthogs are faster than lions?

Picture 3: My final big 5 animal, LEOPARD! Our safari guide actually had to drive off road (not allowed) to take us to this tree where the leopard was hanging out it. A pretty rare spotting in the park we were in, we were all ecstatic.

Picture 4: Giraffes just chilling, walking along with our safari bus.

Pictures 5&6&7: Taken from our river safari. The first is the sunset, the second a family of elephants that had come to the river to drink. The third was an elephant that was pulling grasses from in the river. He would literally submerge himself underwater to dig with his tusks, and stand up with his tusks covered in mud and grasses. I just realized I didn't include any of the hippo pictures, but there were a bunch of those too!

Pictures 8&9: At the border of Zambia and Botswana. There were a bunch of small boats like the one in the first picture that were taking goods up and down the river. The second is what we crossed the river in. We all had to board these barges to take people and cars and trucks across the river to Botswana. They were powered by these huge tractor engines which had to have a guy hand pumping the fuel! Not surprisingly, while we were trying to cross there were some technical difficulties with our barge, and it took about an hour and a half to get across the river.

Picture 10: An image of the Zambian border. It was a pretty casual border crossing...

Pictures 11&12&13: Victoria Falls!

Picture 14&15: Elephants and warthogs that were just hanging out in the bushes along the road to Victoria Falls.

Picture 16: The view from Victoria Falls hotel. There is constantly a view of the spray from the falls, as well as an almost constant rainbow (I can't remember if there is a rainbow in this one...) We certainly didn't stay here, we chose the nicer accommodations of a backpackers... but we did go for high tea one day.

Picture 17: The street outside our backpackers. Not only were there gorgeous flowers and trees along the way, but elephants! Since we were on the outskirts of town, the elephants crossed by our backpackers both nights we were there on their way to the game reserve just outside of town. We got a VERY close look at the elephants!

Finally, Picture 18: The last, but first, picture, of our welcome to Zimbabwe thanks to the Victoria Falls Airport.

Namibia 1

So, I have failed on keeping up my blog... but I am going to do my best to post more in the next few weeks because we have an updated internet system! so I can now upload more than one picture every 3 hours or so.
I decided to start with some pictures from our Spring Break trip to Namibia.
We had 10 days in Namibia. We started by taking a bus to Namibia (20 hrs!!) where we met a tour which took us to the sand dunes in Soussesvlei, where we spent three days. Most of it was just enjoying the scenery but we also climbed a lot of sand dunes, visited a petrified forest, and saw some of the most gorgeous sunrises and sunsets I have seen, mostly from on top of dunes. After that, we drove ourselves to Etosha National Park where we safaried (verb?) for three days. Finally, we went to the seaside town of Swakupmond, where we 4x4ed on the dunes, went to the beach, and relaxed after our busy vacation. We hopped a flight back home, and were back in Cape Town about 18 hours earlier than the bus.

Namibia was the land of 2000 pictures and it is a little overwhelming to try and post them all at once. Hence, I have labeled this post Namibia 1. It is mostly pictures of our group, and a few of scenery. The next posts will be scenery and animals!
So, a quick summary of the photos, hopefully in the order in which they appear!

The first three are from the drive to Soussesvlei. The first shows Springbok, the national animal of South Africa, which are a dime a dozen in Namibia as well. The next is a huge bird nest (for those of you who know about my fear of birds, I have almost gotten over it since being in Cape Town!) where up to 100 or 200 birds can live. Net is a zebra skull we saw on the side of the road, that had been cleaned off by vultures. Although a little gross, it was a pretty cool find. The pictures are out of order, but the next is a gas station we stopped at on the bus ride from Cape Town to Namibia, followed by a picture of Farley, Stacey and I in Etosha National Park at the watering hole near our campsite. The next picture is back to Sossesvlei, where along the drive we happened to drive over the Tropic of Capricorn and decided to take a picture. The next is back in time again, waiting to board the bus in Cape Town. Then, it jumps to Etosa for a few pictures. First is the group on safari, the second is the flat tire we got on the Mercedes they gave us to drive through the game park, and finally, a picture of the first elephant we saw (we were very very excited after seeing a million giraffe and zebra). Finally, the last is along the drive to Soussesvlei again, when Milner (our tour guide) let me drive the huge safari truck.

OK, sorry for the disorder and confusion, I promise the next posts regarding Namibia will be much more coherent. I will make sure to scroll through my pictures in a chronological fashion!