500 kilometers in 3 days made quick work of our journey from Lusaka to Livingstone, Zambia. Quick, but not easy. Heavy afternoon rain showers had some riders scurrying for cover and dealing with setting up camp in wet conditions. A few normally easy going people took to analyzing the schedule, checking the Ride With GPS app for elevation profiles, and even opting to hop on the bus for half days. Torrential rain fell the entire day after our arrival in Livingstone, the 1st of 3 days off. The designated TDA camping area ended up under 6 inches of water in spots. There were casualties. All of this served as a reminder of how fortunate we have been with regards to weather. In theory we can rest easy because the usual rainy season, expected since Tanzania as much as 6 weeks ago, should be coming to an end. Then again, it snowed in Montreal last week.
For the record, we are in full comfort in a hotel.
David Livingstone was a physician, Christian missionary, explorer and one of the most popular British heroes of the late 19th century. He was obsessed with finding the source of the Nile and leveraged the fame he acquired in uncovering the watershed of central Africa to speak out against the East African slave trade. While mapping the course of the Zambezi River between 1852 to 1856, he became the 1st European to see “Mosi-o-Tanya” (“the smoke that thunders”), which he named after his queen: Victoria Falls. What a moment that must have been.
The falls are the 7th Natural Wonder of the World, yet another Unesco World Heritage Site and are, without a doubt, unforgettable. The water falls 108 meters along a 1.7 km wide strip in the Zambezi Gorge. We had the good fortune of seeing them in ‘93 from the Zimbabwe (better view) side in the month of November. At that time of year the curtain of water is most visible because the volume is at its lowest, diminishing the mist which in June can be seen from 50 km away. This time around we were properly drenched on the Zambian side and shared the pathways of the localized rainforest with playful baboons. From any vantage point, it is hard to come up with enough superlatives to describe what it is like to stand there in a poncho watching this spectacle. The only aspect of Niagara Falls which even comes close also entails a poncho: a ride on the Maid of the Mist.
The group has a break to enjoy the many activities on offer in Victoria Falls which are largely of the adventure variety. We can vouch for the white water rafting on the Zambezi which is rated the best single day trip of its kind in the world. When we resume our quest we will be joined by 8 new sectional riders and 2 returning from injuries. The (hopefully) rested veterans and fresh faces will set out on what TDA labels The Elephant Highway, the first half of the classic Victoria Falls to Cape Town cycling route. Ahead are some of the longest and flatest cycling days on the tour, including six centuries (100 miles) in seven days of riding. Yikes! On the bright side, we will also be riding through one of the most impressive wildlife habitats on the planet. We have been warned about getting too close to elephants that stand in our way. We are hoping that they do just that.
Thanks for reading.