We only had a day visa into Zambia so unfortunately, we didn’t really get to experience much of this wonderful country. However, from what we did see and do, Zambia is absolutely phenomenal! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves here, from gazing at the world class Victoria Falls from the air in a microlight (the best way to see the falls, bar none), to partaking in adrenaline day with Abseil Zambia where we could have unlimited opportunities to do the flying fox (assume your best superman pose), gorge swing (super scary but what a rush), or abseil. We rounded out our day excursion into Zambia by zipping into Livingstone, the growing metropolis on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls. Our visit to Zambia was way too short but we would love to go back.
10 May: It was an early morning wake up as we had to have breakfast before departing at 6:30 am to be at the border by 7 am for our pick up for a microlight flight over the falls. It was relatively easy to get stamped out of Zimbabwe so early in the morning as there was no queue, and a representative from Batoka Sky was waiting for us with a van just inside no man’s land. As we piled into the van, he collected our passports and $20 USD each so he could process our Zambian visas for us. Lisa had received a lot of super grungy notes from the ATM machine and she took advantage of this opportunity to rid herself of them. However, the immigration officials were none too pleased and they actually refused to accept payment with such dingy notes, but thankfully our guide persuaded them that we had not brought any other extra bills as this was what we had with us and they reluctantly granted us our visas. Once in Zambia, we had to pick up four additional passengers who were doing the early morning helicopter flight and with a full van, we drove to the Batoka Sky helipad/airstrip. The new passengers were filling us in on details about Osama Bin Laden’s death as we were all starved for the latest news. We made payment for our 15 minute microlight flight with credit card ($135 each plus $20 for the photo DVD) and in no time at all, Lisa and Matt were bundled in their microlight suits and strapped in to their seats, ready to go. It was a quick process as they pulled up and were soon out of view. We were the next two passengers in the queue, and watched as the helicopter folks got escorted to the helipad and packed like sardines into their helicopter. At a whopping $135 per person for a 15 minute flight, we felt bad for the folks crammed in the middle with no window to look out from as they had the absolute worst view. Microlighting is definitely the way to go! Before we knew it, it was our turn to go and Becky was up in the air first, with her flight pilot named Pascal. He was excellent, pointing out all the major sights below and spotting giraffes, elephants and hippos. The view from up high overlooking Victoria Falls was out of this world phenomenal! It was such an incredible sight to see the entire falls stretched out down below and gave us an incredible perspective of just how massive Vic Falls truly is. Even though this activity was quite pricey, we felt that it was a must-see as we simply couldn’t fathom the same magnitude of the falls from our ground visit on the Zim side yesterday. Robby’s pilot was named Brian and he had a hell of a time getting his microphone and headset to stay snug on his head, so it was a bit more difficult for him to communicate with Brian, but he also loved the microlight flight. When we touched down, we head directly to the photo display and purchased our DVDs of the flight (no cameras or loose objects are allowed up in the air so buying the DVD was our best option to capture the memories). Marie and Dowelly were the last two to take off, and everyone raved about how they were thrilled with the microlighting upon touchdown. What a contrast from our helicopter friends, who actually stormed into the office in a rage, complaining that they were shoved in the middle of the helicopter with no chance to see anything at all. They shouted that this was the worst organization they ever flew with and they would never recommend it to their friends. And of course, they wanted no DVD as a memento of their most awful holiday experience. So there you go folks, choose microlighting over helicopter any day! Once we piled back into the van, there was a bit of a debate as to whether we would get dropped off at the adrenaline day gorge swing or the Zam border, and after radioing in to his headquarters, our driver was advised to drop us off at the Zambian border. There, we linked up with the rest of our Oasis group who was participating in Adrenaline Day with Abseil Zambia. Unfortunately for all of us, the Abseil Zambia transport van was down for maintenance, so we had to be shuttled in private vehicles 4 at a time, making it a long process to get everyone to the site. Our large group was broken down into two, with us belonging to the same group as Matt, Marie, Ichyo, Scott, Dowelly, Lisa and Naomi. For our first activity, we went directly to the “flying fox” or the “superman”, where we were all strapped into a harness and took off at a running start to leap into the gorge suspended from our backs. It was a bit disconcerting during the first run as all of us literally threw ourselves off of the edge of a cliff, but by the second run, we were all comfortable with the process. Next activity was abseiling, with the first abseil the traditional one and the second going down the cliff’s edge facing forward. As some members of our group had never abseiled/rappelled before, our guides patiently explained the process to us before sending us down one at a time, with a guide belaying us from down below. It was a lot of fun scaling the 53 meter cliff face and everyone got the hang of it after a while. The hike from the base of the cliff back to the top took about 20 – 25 minutes, and the path crossed directly below the gorge swing. We watched in amusement as Sean took off for his first gorge swing, screaming hysterically and shouting “don’t do it” when he finally caught his breath! When it was our turn, Becky was hardly given a chance to breath before being strapped in, harnessed and given a quick lecture on the proper form for stepping off for the gorge swing. There are three options consisting of a) stepping forward and dropping 53 meters in 3.5 seconds, b) stepping backwards while curled and hunched over, maintaining that position until the rope pulls taut or else risking injury, or c) going tandem backwards while holding your partner at the waist. Becky chose the first option of stepping forward and keeping Chris’ advice in mind, never looked down as she stepped over the cliff. With her heart in her throat, the free fall seemed to last forever until the rope finally pulled taut and swung her from one side of the cliff to the other. What a rush! Robby was amazed that Becky actually attempted it on her own with no persuading and he joined Luke in a tandem off the cliff. By then it was close to 2 pm and lunch was in order. After a delicious meal of chicken pasta, salad, bread rolls and coleslaw supplemented by beer, we were relaxed and amazed at how much we had accomplished that day. After lunch, we decided to do a tandem gorge swing and it was scary as we actually flipped upside down before gravity and the rope pulled us back upright again. Robby culminated the afternoon by doing a solo forward stepping gorge swing while Becky opted for two flying foxes before calling it a day. Since we still had to pay for our adrenaline day activities ($100 each) with credit card, we split off from the group and were driven to Livingstone where the Abseil Zambia office was located next to Fawlty Towers. We still had a just a bit of daylight remaining and an hour until the Zambian side of the “Mosi-oa-Tunya” National Park (“the smoke that thunders”) closed but decided to walk back across the border to Zimbabwe and call it a day.