Zambia.

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The first impression Zamia gave us was that it's not a very tourist-friendly country. It's not easy to get a visa, and the custom was rather bureaucratic. On the way from Lusaka to Livingstone, we were the only two Asian on the bus, among of the rest of stone-cold faces. People glanced at us and look away, nobody wanted to talk to or even sit near us, like we're a pair of yellow-skin monsters. But after we got to Livingstone and stood in front of the grandeur of the Victoria Fall, all is forgiven.

Now Here's what I mean. From miles away, we've already heard the distant thunder and have seen a white column of mist or steam or smoke or fog shooting up some 500 m into the sky. Walk closer, My God, there was the brightest, most brilliant, and the most glaring rainbow we've ever seen in our life. Behind the mist was the largest water curtain in the world, some 1.7 km (1 miles) in width and ~108m in height. Every minute, some 546 millions cubic meters (that is, 546 million tons) of water from the flat and calm Zambezi river is pour into this 120-meter wide, 108-meter deep chasm, transforming into a fierce turbulence that carves its way through the black basal gorges (the Boiling Pot, 1st row, the last pic).

 

A Helicopter Flight gave us a full view of the fall. It's so clear from up here how the wide and placid Zambezi river is suddenly greeted by a deep crack on the surface of the earth and the water thunder into the gorge. Across the gorge, right above the Boiling Pot, is the Victoria Fall Bridge, a railway bridge that marks the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. You can see Zimbabwe actually got a longer portion of the fall.

 

Follow the showery Knife Edge Trail, we walking along the other edge of the chasm, some 120m away from the fall -- we can take a very close look at the huge sheet of water curtain. You can imagine how misty this can get. Even with full cover rain gears and water-proof everything, we were still wet from top to bottom, in and out.

Halfway through the trail we have walk through this narrow slippery Knife Edge Bridge. Just try not to look down. To our surprise, we met a few brave and decent African brothers walked pass the bridge wearing suits, ties, and dressing shoes (last pic). Their sacrifice for maintaining the propriety of African is really admirable, but...oh boy, did they get wet!

Toward the end of the trail we reach the Knife Edge Point. The ridge on the other side belong to Zimbabwe.

Sunset, but the thunder never quiet down.

 

Canoeing along the Zimbezi River, on the upper stream of course. No, not those wood-carved canoe, those were made by the local fishermen (2nd, 3rd pix). We'll ride on the yellow inflated boats.

The water is surprisingly calm. You'll never be able to guess that a few miles down, a thunderous waterfall is waiting.

Wildlife along the way. An African Darter (Anhinga rufa) is drying its wing (3 pix). Daters don't have much oil in their feathers, so they do get soak swimming. A similar bird is Cormorant (White-breasted? Phalacrocorax lucidus, 3 pix).

Hammerkops (Scopus umbretta) are peculiar-looking birds, with a feather crest that makes the head resemble a hammer and thus the name. This is their mating season, and that explains some of the intimate fondling here.

A little Green-back Heron (Butorides virescens, 2 pix); a Snake Eagle (? Circaetus pectoralis, 2 pix); a Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis, 1 pic); and two African Wattled Lapwing (Vanellus senegallus, last pic).

 

A Walking Safari. All these time in Kenya and Tanzania we've been hiding inside a SUV, peeking at the animals, until now. Here in Livingstone, we would walk into the jungle, on our feet. Of course, for such adventure we certainly need a guide, but we didn't expect that a park ranger carrying an automatic rifle is also part of the deal. Soon we'll see, that's not totally unnecessary. From the dropping and footprints, we started our search for the beasts. Guess what that humongous print in the last pic belong to (you'll see below).

Giraffes (G. camelopardalis ) are not very hard to spot in a jungle. A dominant male is always calm and would examine us without fear. Those who flee at the sight of strangers are females and cubs. Oh, one of the poor kids lost one foot in a trap and had to walk with a limp (last 2 pix).

Then the guide made a gesture -- quiet, we're entering the Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) zone. These monsters have the most unpredictable temper in the jungle, and they are generally considered the most dangerous beast in the jungle. You may think fortunately we have an automatic rifle, but when a group of raging bulls are charging at us, a few bullets probably are not gonna stop them. Our guide told us that if it happen, the best way is not to run but to climb up to a tree. That may keep us from danger for a while, but buffalos are notoriously stubborn and they may stay around the trees for hours.

Remember that huge footprint above? Follow the trace we found the monster, a White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum). Look at that horn.

We walk quietly, closer, closer... until my heart almost stopped pounding. God is he huge!

Other beasts. Impalas (Aepyceros melampus, 4 pix); an extremely shy Bush Buck (Tragelaphus sylvaticus, 1 pic); a family of Elephant (last pic).

Birds. A group of mean-looking Hornbills.

Graceful Yellow-billed Egret (Ardea intermedia). Beautiful S-shaped long neck.

An African Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis, 1st pic); a Woodland Kingfisher (Halcyon senegalensis, 1 pic); a White-fronted Bee-eater (Merops bullockoides, 2 pix); a Small Bee-eater (last 2 pix).

A D'Arnaud's Barbet (?Trachyphonus darnaudii, 2 pix); Helmeted Guineafowls (Numida meleagris, 2 pix); have you ever seen a white crow? Check out the Pied Crow (Corvus albus, 2 pix)!

Lastly, Livingstone is fine place to stay. Check out our lodge (2 pix), cool eh? This authentic African restaurant serves traditional dance lessons as well.

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