Friday, May 13, 2011

Livingstone (Part 1)

The Mighty Victoria Falls

Livingstone is one of Zambia’s greatest tourist hotspots, as it is the site of one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls. It offers a variety of activities for visitors, from watching traditional Zambian dances to wildlife watching to high-adrenaline activities like bungee jumping and white water rafting. What follows is a sampling of memories and experiences from a two day trip to Livingstone which Banani International School funded for its youth volunteers.

Mosi-oa-tunya Wildlife Sanctuary
Tourists will pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars, to go on African safaris. If you have your own transportation, however, in some parks it is possible to go on a “self-drive safari” and pay much less. Guides cost extra, but I found that most of the wildlife can be found and identified on one’s own; you only need sharp eyes and good identification books.

Male Impala

We paid around 10 USD each to enter the park (the price is higher for non-residents) and drove in our white Banani van down the tarred road as well as many of the dirt side roads. As we entered the park, we tagged along behind a safari truck (that’s the way to do it!) and as they pulled over excitedly, so did we. More than half concealed behind a bush stood an elephant, only its large ears and trunk visible through the thick brush. Closer to the van stood a Blacksmith Lapwing (Plover), so named for its alarm call which sounds like a hammer striking an anvil.

Impalas thrive in this small wildlife sanctuary. Other common game animals include water buffalo, wildebeest, bushpig, and zebra. Because the park is small, there are no predators within its borders. If you are lucky, you might spot a hippo as you drive along one side of the Zambezi River, which feeds Victoria Falls. On our way out of the park at dusk, a hippo moseyed out of the river and onto the road. Safari-goers on a river cruise parallel to us craned their necks and struggled to see Mr. Hip-hop-opotamus, while we had excellent front seat views from our white Banani van…nanny nanny poo poo!

a herd of wildebeast in the shade


The Arts Café
Just down the road from the Fawlty Towers lodge where we stayed is a small building bursting with creativity. The Arts Café offers a variety of activities and I highly recommend at least spending an evening there. Visitors can take a workshop in which they learn to create their own drum, finger piano, jewelry, or other craft. Although we did not have time to take a workshop, we did attend an evening show, “Dancing Around Zambia”, in which performers shared the traditional dances from the provinces of Zambia. Most baffling to me is how they are able to move their hips without moving any other part of their body. I’ve tried it a number of times and probably look like a fool wiggling around in front of a mirror. The dance was full of energy and the performers were able to share their knowledge of the traditions behind many of the dances, as well as which tribe or province within Zambia they originate from.

Return for more tomorrow!

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