One of the most striking aspects of re-visiting Zambia was its development: more shopping malls, more houses, more roads, more wealth. For the most part this is a good thing, a sign that a developing country is developing.
For us it was most marked in our visit to Livingstone. We took a bus which, of course, broke down. Everyone seemed surprised by this except for me: it was Zambia, and I just expect buses to break down. It appears that the intercity service is supposed to be much more reliable than I give them credit for. At least they stopped the bus near a toilet…
It must be nearly ten years since I was last in Livingstone and it has developed considerably. The main street (Mosi-oa-Tunya Road) was lined with guest houses and had developed a new shopping area with a much improved Shoprite. Admittedly the shops were little different from Manda Hill in Lusaka, but it was a sign of inward investment and a town that is thriving on the tourist industry.
The town is a few kilometres from The Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders) as it is known locally. It is a World Heritage site and perhaps the most transfixing sight I have ever had the privilege of seeing. And not just me: another sign of the increasing wealth of the country is that so many of the visitors (even in the week before Easter) were Zambians holidaying in their own country rather than the white tourist. (We were partly aware of this as we had travelled down with them on the bus!)
Being April it was the end of the rainy season and the River Zambezi was full of all the flood water from many miles up river. Gallons of water were tumbling over the precipice every second. The resultant spray was enough to soak everyone and flood the Knife Edge Bridge.
Yet just the other side of the outcrop is the railway and road bridge that links Zambia to Zimbabwe, and no amount of waterfall spray is going to stop some people from the jump of their lives.
The development of extreme sports is part of what has made Livingstone such an attractive destination for tourists. Whitewater rafting, gorge-swinging, bungee jumping: these are all readily available. As is, thankfully, a river cruise and a beautiful African sunset.
All photos (c) Catharine Withenay
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