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An African Journey by Yusuf Hashim – Part 7

This is the 7th installment of An African Journey by Yusuf Hashim, a co-owner of PhotoSafari.com.my. Yusuf Hashim has been traveling around the world in a 4×4 for more than 12 years. This is one of his episodes of his travels in Africa. It will give an insight on what to expect when you travel in Africa.

Yusuf is now planning to organize a PhotoSafari for photographers to Africa soon. So stay tuned.

An African Journey by Yusuf Hashim – Part 7

I hired a helicopter in Livingstone, Zambia, in order to shoot this photo. Located on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the local name for Victoria Falls is Mosi-oa-Tunya, or the Smoke that Thunders. You can see the mist from the Victoria Falls rising up the horizon from 50 kilometers away, and as you get closer, the roar is deafening. You’ll need a raincoat when you walk in the vacinity of the falls. At 1700 meters wide and 108 meters high, the Victoria Falls is the largest width of falling water in the world. Along with the Iguazu Falls in South America, and the Niagara Falls in North America, they are all in the list of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. To appreciate how wide the Victoria Falls are, you’ll need to take a helicopter ride like I did, and see it from the air.

And no visit to the Victoria Falls is complete until you do the Bungee, the Flying Fox and the Slide down into the gorge of the Zambesi from that bridge on the left. It was my 65th birthday when we were at the Victoria Falls, and what a birthday celebration it was, when a few brave souls including me, did all three jumps…one of the most challenging, terrifying and craziest things to do when you are 65. It should be in your own bucket list too. It’s a massive adrenaline rush as you plunge headfirst, 120 meters into the Zambesi gorge…even better than an orgasm I tell you.

A couple of weeks ago there was an accident when the rubber rope broke and an Australian girl plunged into the crocodile infested waters below…..and lived. It was the first accident in 10 years, and it proved two things. That you wont die if your bungee string snap. Secondly, its now safe for you to go, because statistically speaking, the next accident is going to be in 2022. Watch the accident video HERE..

However, the Bungee at the Victoria Falls is not the highest in Africa. That honour goes to the Bloukrans bridge Bungee in South Africa, which is an incredible 233 meters. We drove past that Bungee site but it was not in operation. Otherwise I would surely also do that jump. I also remember seeing a 350 meter high Bungee jumping site in the Himalayas as we drove through Nepal and Tibet from Malaysia to India but it was closed that time when we passed by.
Looking at the Victoria Falls, I couldn’t help feeling that it has a slightly feminine feel to it when compared to the mighty Iguazu Falls between Argentina and Paraguay. When I was doing my round South America drive, we took a jetboat into the jaws of the Iguazu Falls, and even went under one of the smaller water walls. My 1DsM2 didnt feel a thing during that dunking, but i did wrap the body in a small plastic bag. That was awesome, and nearly as thrilling as when we took another dinghy to touch the whales at Punta Valdez in Argentina. But that is another story for another book……

Zambia shares the Victoria Falls on the Zambezi with Zimbabwe. Although not very well known, Zambia has 12 other waterfalls, each with their own special appeal. Among them are the Ngonye Falls on the Zambezi, with water volume second only to the Victoria falls, the Kalambo Falls which is the 2nd highest, and 12 highest in the world, Lumangwe Falls which looks like a smaller version of Victoria Falls, the Ntumbachushi Falls on the Ng’ona River, the Chishimba Falls which the Bemba people regard as sacred because they believe nature spirit Chishimba resides in a cave below the Falls, which is a place of prayer and honour, and where no insults, curses, words of vengeance or hatred may be uttered in the vicinity of the caves. If you want to visit the Victoria Falls, its best is to see it from Livingstone in Zambia, rather than from the Zimbabwe side. However don’t walk alone from Livingstone to the Falls area as there has been many cases of muggings of tourists.

 

The other place where you need a plane to see it is the Okavango Delta of Botswana. The Okavango Delta is the worl’d largest inland delta, where the Okavango River empties into the Kalahari Desert and its water is simply lost to evaporation instead of to the sea. From the air I could see that this evaporation has created many salt islands. It wasn’t possible to drive deep into the delta, even with our all terrain vehicles, so I hired a Cessna and flew over the Okavango Delta for an aerial view of the concert of life and death being played out in the wilderness below. My PPL licence is not current because its become a bit too expensive to keep flying, and you need to log a certain minimum hours of pilot time per year to keep it current, but the friendly pilot did let me have the controls for some time, when I told him I had a PPL. However he drew the line when I asked to land the plane. Actually flying a plane is like riding a bicycle. You never forget how to ride a bicycle even if you haven’t ridden one for a while. So its the same with flying. For a plane its all about balance , trimming, and power settings. Once those are set, you can virtually let go of everything, light a cigarette, turn on the ADF to a radio station, listen to the music and enjoy the scene below. What could get you into trouble are the safety checks you need to carry out before take off, and before landing. Sometimes you forget to turn on the fuel cocks before take off (happened to me once, in Penang), or to check that both magnetos are ok, etc, etc, for instance. Here’s the other Cessna with my friends imside, flying abreast over the Okavango Delta.

The resident population of the Okavango Delta include large numbers of elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, kudus, impalas, antelopes, giraffes, crocodiles, hippos, buffalos, white and black rhinos,zebras, warthogs, baboons, ostrich and over 400 species of birds, fish eagles,ibis and a fascinating mix of wildlife that flock to this area when the rains come in winter.

 

Stay tuned for the 8th part of this series where Yusuf visits Egypt.

 

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