After Botswana, we crossed into Zambia. We stayed for a few days in Livingstone, a tourist city near Victoria Falls that offers a lot of adventure activities.
Livingstone is named after David Livingstone, the British explorer who was once declared the 2nd most famous living British person (after Queen Victoria). After he disappeared on once of his adventures, newspaper report Henry Stanley went in search of him.
At last, in the spring of 1871, accompanied by a dog named Omar and porters, armed guards, an interpreter, cooks, a guide carrying the American flag, and two British sailors – some 190 men in all, the largest African exploring expedition to date – Stanley marched inland from the east coast in search of Livingstone, who by now had not been seen by any European for five years. “Whereever he is,” Stanley declared to his New York newspaper readers, “be sure I shall not give up the chase. If alive, you shall hear what he has to say; if dead I will find and bring his bones to you.”
Stanley had to trek for more than eight months before he found the explorer and was able to utter – or so he claimed – his famous, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” The long search was shaped into legend by his stream of dispatches and Bennett’s realization that his newspaper had one of the great human-interest scoops of the century. Because Stanley was the only source of information about the search (his two white companions died during the expedition, and no one ever bothered to interview the surviving porters), the legend remained heroic. There were the months of arduous marching, the terrible swamps, the evil “Arab” slave traders, the mysterious deadly diseases, the perilous attacks by crocodiles, and finally Stanley’s triumphant discovery of the gentle Dr. Livingstone.
Fortunately I didn’t have to exert myself as much to reach Livingstone.
I did go white water rafting on the Zambezi, which offers some of the best rafting in the world.
We ended up in the water a few times. it was a bit disconcerting to see crocodiles sitting on the banks of the river. Our guides assured us there was no problem because these were vegetarian crocodiles.
I also paid a visit to a lion sanctuary. They take in orphaned lion cubs and raise them in a natural environment (they still go hunting), but the lions get used to humans. We got instructions on how to behave around the lions (make sure you are standing next to someone who is slower than you) and were each armed with a stick. (“If the lions give you a naughty look, point the stick at them and say, No!”) Then we got to go for an hour walk with three lions, which was an amazing experience.
I also visited Victoria Falls, one of the most impressive waterfalls I’ve seen (ranking up there with Iguassu). I did a helicopter flight over the falls to get a good view of the area.
And then visited the falls from both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides. The Zimbabwe side has the much better view, but because of Zimbabwe’s recent political problems it’s not as popular as it used to be.