Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Baptism and Machine Guns

More about Zambia.
View of the spray from Victoria Falls taken from the helicopter launching site.
The Tokaleya people named the falls
Mosi-oa-Tunya which translates to
Smoke that Thunders in Tonga. 
We had the choice of either a 15 minute helicopter ride or a 30 minute ride. We chose the 30 as that ride included flying through narrow river canyons and passing over Victoria Falls twice. Mr. Deep took Dramamine to avoid motion sickness. I did not. I felt o.k. but was glad the ride was not longer than 30 minutes...if you know what I mean. 

In the chopper it was only the two of us plus the pilot. I sat in the front and Mr. Deep sat in the back. We got to wear cool headsets so that we could hear the pilot and also communicate with each other.  Yes, just as I will take classes at the boxing gym so I can wear cool boxing gloves I will fly in a helicopter in large part because I want to wear the head set. Maybe this blog should be renamed My Thoughts From The Shallow End? 

Serious coolness
Our pilot
It was an amazing view and I highly recommend taking this flight if you ever have the chance. Whizzing through the canyons felt like living a video game. 


Heading back to land at the pad
After the flight Godfrey drove us to the falls and took us on a walking tour. There are a lot of baboons near the falls and they are quite aggressive actively trying to find food that people may be carrying. At one point Godfrey picked up a big stick to threaten the baboons with so that they would stay away from us. 


Finally we walked way out on a bridge until we were about halfway across the falls. This is known as the baptism as you get soaked with water. All of the cameras and phones had to be put in a dry bag and we wore giant ponchos.  Once it was dry enough we snuck the phones out for a few quick photos.

Godfrey and me
Even though I lived in New York State for most of my life I have never visited Niagara Falls. Vic Falls is one and half times wider and twice as high as Niagara. It is also one of the seven natural wonders of the world and only the second that I have visited (I have been to the Grand Canyon.) The falls span between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Across the falls we could see people on the Zimbabwe side. And...there was no fence or barricade between them and the falls. Imagine if the ground is wet and you slip? 

The wet season at Victoria Falls is February and March. At this time approximately 500 million liters of water is flowing through the falls per minute. November is the dry season and the water volume is reduced to about 10 million liters per minute.  

You would think nothing could top a morning of flying over and getting sprayed on by Vic Falls. But, in the afternoon we had the amazing opportunity to walk with rhinos.

Due to an epidemic of poaching for their horns, rhinos are critically endangered. Nine of the eleven white rhinos that live in Zambia live in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park where we visited. These rhinos are tracked and watched 24 hours a day seven days a week by armed Zambian Wildlife Authority guards. The guards carry AK-47s and they follow the rhinos around making sure they do not become victims of poaching. The guards have been instructed to shoot now and ask questions later if they suspect a poacher. This is how serious the poaching problem is in Africa. We had the chance to see four of the nine white rhinos that live in the park. Also, white rhinos aren't white. You can tell a white rhino versus a black one as the white have more of a square shaped mouth. 

You can see by our shadows just how close we were to the rhinos.
Mr. Deep and one of the guards

Mr. Deep gave the guards a donation to thank them for their work and then they were more than happy to pose with us for a photo. Their names were Stanley, Echo and Charlie. Now that I am writing this I wonder if those were not their real names because it sounds like military speak. Maybe they are undercover due to the dangerous nature of their work.

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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.