Hope everyone is doing well and you are enjoying the fall – Autumn is one of my favourite times in Canada so despite my happiness at my current location I am a little homesick.
I am currently sitting in my campsite in Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe side) waiting while my travel mates Ben, Handri and Michael do their helicopter tour over the falls (I opted out as its low water right now) and thought I would let you know what’s been going on since I left paradise in Zanzibar.
First we headed to Malawi, which despite being one of the poorest countries in the world is shockingly pricey when it came to food, drinks and toiletries. We spent the first two days in Chitimba right on Lake Malawi where some of us went for a moonlight swim despite the mosies and alarming rate of malaria (I’m on doxy so all is good) and then the following morning two of us set off on a 32 km hike (1900 m vertical walk) up from Chitimba to Livingstonia which is a tiny little town with a panoramic view of Malawi and the lake. Despite having done Kili less than two months ago this was a tough climb as we were walking in the open sun the 16km per direction and didn’t find any escape or shade till about 3 km from the top when we reached Manachwe Falls. These falls are probably about 145 m high and the hike actually at one point takes you behind the falls for very scenic photos and a nice cool off before you continue to the top.
Due to the sun and perhaps having one too many glasses of wine the night before I decided not to continue to the top and while Andrew and my guide went up I spent an hour in a tiny village called Managwuy talking to the locals and learning how to play the local pebble game.
This was probably my first time in Africa that reality set in. This village has 500 people, 200 of which are children orphaned by AIDS and out of the 300 remaining there is about 200 adults of which 1 of 3 have either AIDS or HIV. It really is sad and the locals (those my generation) are the first to admit that its the lack of education that causes Malawi to have such a high concentration of AIDS (if I’m not mistaken its the worlds highest percentage something like 38), but sadly you have witch doctors or local healers who refuse to admit the epidemic and suggest cures like sex with virgins – which obviously doesn’t help the situation. Nonetheless after my time spent atop and some enlightening conversation I headed back down to camp for another swim in the lake before we went to bed for the next days drive to Khande Beach.
Again set on Lake Malawi Khande Beach is AMAZING you have white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and some of the best temperature water I have ever swam in (it was about 35 outside and the water was at about 24 – beauty). Here at Khande we kicked back for 5 days of sun, fun and local visits to orphanages (I cried like a baby when I saw that 18 children live in a room that is no larger than most powder rooms). One of the nights we got sucked into a costume party, the trick being that your name was drawn out of the hat by somebody else participating and they were then to purchase 5 dollars worth of second hand clothing for their person.
I have never seen so many guys in leopard print miniskirts and tub tops, one even got to wear a g string and boustier (he was about as hairy as Steve Carrell in 40 yr old virgin). I was fortunate, Ben and Handri bought my a turquoise jumpsuit and decorated it with permanent marker and the word GROUPIE (I have been hanging out with all males as always and Mike decided it would be my nickname – I wasn’t initially impressed but I got to dress Mike who is 6’4 as Marilyn Monroe so karma does have its moments)
As for the rest of the days I spent reading Nelson Mandela’s (A Long Walk to Freedom) which is an amazing account of his time spent in jail and his career as a political activist which led to his conviction. I recommend it.
From Khande Beach we continued on to Zambia for two days of not much other than driving and stopping at campsites (one of which in Iringa is an old horse stable that was converted and they sell the worlds best brownies in case anyone should find themselves in Zambia). Here we had an island that was about 900 metres from the beach so on the last day Ben and I decided to swim over in the morning and go cliff jumping, the view was so scenic we convinced a group of 5 guys to swim back for sunset while Bens girlfriend and some other girls took kayaks (after doing the swim once in the morning I needed a kayak nearby for the second attempt in case my body gave out – luckily it didn’t and it was an incredible swim). We arrived on the island right before the sun was setting – due to the kayaks we were able to bring beer and the boys and I had sunset beers in the middle of lake Malawi – one of my top five moments in life. After that we cliff jumped back into the water and swam the last 900 m as the sun was setting behind us so we have some amazing photos of us swimming into the sunset (it was magic)
After Zambia we approached the Zimbabwe border where for 1 dollar USD I purchased a 100 trillion dollar old Zimbabwe note (they have since adopted USD as main currency but they still sell them as bookmarks). We saw Victoria Falls, which is beautiful sadly though with the low water the pictures we got aren’t as powerful as normally.
Wow my emails and writing is getting much worse, I apologise for the lack of format or entertainment, I will get to the good stuff.
Since Thursday we have been in Victoria Falls hanging out and pushing ourselves to the limit we spent Friday white water rafting on the Zambezi river and team Suicide got some new members as we battled 23 grade 4/5 rapids. This time luckily there was no injuries but a whole lot of adrenaline we flipped about 11 times and even went through rapids we were trying to avoid – one in particular is called the Washing Machine simply because if you go in it keeps sucking you back under in a vicious cycle. Ben, Paddy and myself fell in (I lost my shorts/bikini bottoms for a minute) and I don’t think we resurfaced for a good 40 seconds, when I finally did I was about 200 feet from the rapid and clutching on to Michael (who has become our James Bond because he keeps having to save my life) and spitting out some of the litres of water I managed to take it. It was Awesome, it was just Handri and myself as the only females on a boat with 6 male egos who kept trying to out do each other. I think I need to start choosing my travelling buddies with Safety as my priority.
The day though was a success and despite a few paddles to the face everyone enjoyed themselves, had a good laugh, drank sea water and went balls deep on the Zambezi.
oooops – my turn to Bungee Jump
I will continue this shortly
Lil Miss Planet – about to be Lil Miss Airborne