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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Zimbabwe/Zambia - 27 March, 2001

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Victoria Falls, (Shoestrings Campsite) S1755.568' E02550.111' 892 m
Zimbabwe - Zambia border (Victoria Falls)
Zambezi gorge north of Victoria Falls (abseiling center)
Cruise on the Zambezi River 20 km
Zambia - Zimbabwe border (Victoria Falls)
Finish Victoria Falls (Shoestrings Campsite) S1755.568' E02550.111' 892 m 50 km

Total:

31,125 km

10,205 km

 

Weather: Mostly clear, sunny and very hot.  Warm at night.

 

 

Daily Journal Entry:

Today, believe it or not, we will be heading back to Zambia for the day.  We are going to go to the abseiling center for the day and then have a booze cruise on the Zambezi River in the evening.  They come and pick us up at 7:30 AM and we head to the border.  We cross over the border and the bridge without too much trouble.  We then drive to the Zambezi gorge (which was formed by the Zambezi river over the years).

 

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We arrive at the abseiling center just before 9 AM and are greeted by some crazy, but fun guys who will be "taking care" of us for the rest of the day.  After some tea and coffee, we have a briefing and go through the usual legal paperwork (i.e., sign away our life in case any thing goes wrong).  We will be doing three main activities here in the gorge.  The first is to rappel down the 55 meter cliff face.  After walking back up out of the gorge, we will go for rides on the flying fox (a wire suspended across the gorge).  Finally, we will go on what is the gorge swing.  In this activity, we will step off of a platform attached to a rope and go for a 55 meter (3 second) freefall before being caught by the rope and swung out over the gorge.

 

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First to the rappelling.  We are given a briefing and then secured to the safety line before we head over the cliff face.  Jacqui goes first and she does a great job going down the cliff face.  By the way, the instructor is doing a great job.  While being very professional and making sure all the safety aspects are taken care of, he talks to you non-stop with small talk and jokes.  He takes your mind off what we are doing.

 

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Lars follows Jacqui and quickly joins her at the bottom of the gorge.  It is a great ride down.  While rappelling down the cliff face we get a chance to enjoy the view of the Zambezi river and gorge.  Once down at the bottom, we wait for the rest of the group to catch up.  Once we are together once again, we begin the walk back up.  They are kind enough to put a water cooler full of water at the half way point.

 

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Once we get to the top, we head over to the fly fox.  Here we are secured to a pulley wheel on the rope and we run down a platform and launch ourselves into the air over the edge of the gorge.  We then ride the wire all the way to the other side of the gorge. Once there, they slowly pull us back.

 

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We get to do this three times, once sitting and twice lying face down.  Some times we would do silly things, like fly off like Superman or like Jacqui hop off like a ballerina.

 

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Once we have completed these rides, it is on to the gorge swing.  Now this is the scary one.  We are secured to a rope which is attached to the middle of a wire spanning the gorge.  The idea is that you step off the platform and fall for about 55 meters, until the rope catches you and it then pulls you out and away from the cliff face and the bottom of the gorge.  It is important to note that this is not a pendulum swing where the rope securing you is taught when you jump, so you just swing like a pendulum.  Here, you actually fall straight down for 55 meters before the rope catches you.

 

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Paolo goes first - the instructor tells us that going first is best because you cannot see what the ride is like from others doing it.  Those who follow are usually more scared!!!  We get a very good vantage point and can watch the whole thing.  It is mind blowing.  Soon it is Lars' turn.  He walks up to the platform and gets some last minute instructions before walking up to the edge of the platform.  He makes the mistake of looking down (hard not to do as you shuffle up to the edge), and sees the tiny people down below.  Is this ever scary!!!  The instructor asks if you are ready, then counts to three and tells you to step off.  Lars hesitates for a moment, and then steps off.

 

It is an amazing ride.  You are just falling for what seems like a long time and seeing the ground rush up for you and wondering when will the rope pull you out.  Finally, just when you think you are going to hit, the rope catches and you are pulled out over the gorge.  Then you have a great time just hanging out in the middle of the gorge as you wait for them to lower you down to the bottom of the gorge.  Once down at the bottom, for a few minutes it is hard to walk as your legs are a bit shaky.  But Lars needed to rush up to the top so that he could watch Jacqui jump off.

 

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Lars makes it back up after a quick walk/run up the gorge just in time for Jacqui's jump off the edge.  She also has a great ride.

 

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Once we have all had a chance, Paolo goes for a second time just before we have lunch.  This time he goes backwards - called the death drop.  You stand with your heels hanging over the edge of the platform and the instructor holding onto you.  You lean back and then when you are ready, the instructor lets go and you fall backwards into the gorge.  Another great ride.

 

We then have lunch and get ready for some more falls after lunch.  We decide to do some tandem jumping on the gorge swing.  Lars and Jacqui will be the third pair to go over together.

 

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We get ready and after some last minute instructions, we shuffle together backwards to the edge of the platform.  The instructor holds onto us and we slowly lean over backwards.  When we are leaning far enough over the edge, he asks us if we are ready and then lets us go.  We fall backwards and freefall head first.  Jacqui falls into Lars' lap (maybe because she is falling a bit slower) and down we go.  We are now able to clearly see the ground rush towards us.  Just when the ground and rocks are about to hit us (or rather we are about to hit them), we are pulled out and away.  What a ride.  We are then slowly lowered down into the gorge.

 

Once there, we wait for the other couples to do their jumps.  As they are preparing the swing, they send down some beers (that was our last jump, so it is OK to drink).  That beer was very welcome.  Watching the next pair jump from down below was an amazing sight as they fell straight down the cliff face, only to be pulled away in the last minute.

 

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We then needed to walk back up to the top.  Once there, we had some more drinks and posed for a group picture.  What a day it has been.  Now we are off to the Zambezi river to go on a booze cruise.  They give us a ride in an open backed land rover and it is great to zip along with the air rushing by you.

 

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We get to the boat around 4:30 PM and jump right on and head out into the river.  There is unlimited booze on board to consume and we dig right in.  With our adrenaline levels still very high, we are ready for a good time.

 

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None of us are really focusing on the river too much.  We are just taking it easy, having a drink and re-living our day of gorge swinging.  They serve us dinner on board - nothing special, but it is good to put something in the stomach.

 

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But we do begin to pay more attention to our surroundings as the sun begins to set.  It is a glorious sunset and the colors keep changing.  We can also see the spray from Victoria Falls in the distance.

 

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The sunset slowly takes many forms.

 

We reach shore at 7:30 PM after a great time and all hop aboard the transport to take us back to Zimbabwe and the campsite.  We are all feeling pretty good and we are quite a noisy crowd.  We are not surprised that the Zambians get rid of us as quickly as they do - rather we are surprised that the Zimbabweans let us back in.  We are singing and carrying on quite bit, including playing the car's stereo quite loudly.  But they are good and let us in.

 

We head back to the campsite to drop off our stuff and to take a quick shower.  We then head to the Kingdom for some more drinks and a bit of gambling at the casino.  We either break even or make a bit of money.  A bit after midnight we head back to the campsite.  It has been a great day.

 

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