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by SS at 5:20 pm on Saturday 17th April

We're in Livingstone for three nights, or two rest days. I'm happy the TDA has organised the rest days like this - it's a beautiful place, touristy but pleasant and there's a lot to do. The campsite we have as a base isn't the best available so most of the riders have evacuated and either gone to some fancy hotels on the Zimbabwe side of the river or have come to the Waterfront campsite where I'm now writing from.

This campsite is lush, has a great view down the Zambezi river and we can even see the spray from the falls off in the distance, like a unusually low cloud resting on the surface of the water. It has a swimming pool, warm showers with decent pressure and a well stocked bar. It's also very quiet and I've had two nights of sound sleep.

A good proportion of the tour came on the unashamedly named 'booze cruise' down the Zambezi. This two hour cruise takes us up the river, away from the waterfall (unfortunately but probably for our safety!), up to a beautiful sunset before turning around and taking us back. It includes unlimited food and drink but unfortunately they didn't appear to cater for the limitless appetite of the touring cyclist. The vegetarian selection was as meagre as expected, an uninspiring pasta dish. The drinks weren't too bad though and I knocked back four double vodkas/whiskies with Sprite and orange cordial.

Returning to the campsite, I decided to make up for the lack of Amarula in the previous month, served ice cold in a round glass from the Waterfront bar. Several of the Canadian sectional riders who are part of a charity working in Zambia decided to take us out to some of the best Livingstone nightclubs and we took a heavily overloaded bucky (pick-up truck) out to the town centre. This was crazily dangerous - just 5 people sitting in the front two rows and 13 of us crammed into the bed of the short wheelbase truck. I was one of the later passengers to arrive so was standing up along with Jethro. The bumps were pretty painful, trying our hardest not to lose our footing or inadvertantly step on other people's feet. It was the corners that took the most dangerous award though, since our narrow stance in the limited floor space there was, coupled with the loose grip on the rollcage of the truck, made it difficult to hold on and predisposing us to the very genuine danger of falling out of the truck.

We made it though and after skipping past one club that was playing polka music, we found a warehouse-esque bar-club which was pumping Zambian dance music (whilst also showing a football match that most other patrons were glued to). Leanne requested they change to more Western music and the group was happily dancing for a while. I left early, falling asleep from a few days worth of poor rest.
The next morning, we booked the bungie jump, swing and zip line package as a group and then head into town to hunt down an ATM that would give us cash to pay for the package.

Heading to a homely vegetarian restaurant for lunch about an hour before we were supposed to meet everyone for the jump, we were panicking when the food hadn't arrived 5 minutes before we were supposed to be back at the campsite (especially since I had the booking voucher for all eight of us). A dose of karma was delivered to me when I didn't receive my meal with everyone else. When we asked the waitress if they'd started making my meal yet, apparently she had forgotten. Unhappily hungry and pressured with the lack of time, I chowed down on a packet of custard creams as we made our way to the falls.

I wasn't especially worried about throwing myself off the bridge into the Zambezi river at all until after we had registered and made our way onto the bridge. It was only then, looking down, that I realised what a ridiculous endeavour this was. Watching the other riders jump off the bridge, plummet towards the water and then bounce around made me quite nervous and when my turn finally came, at least 45 minutes later, I was dead silent.

When they called my name, I stepped on the platform all harnessed up. Various checks were done, they clip you first to the edge of the bridge and then transfer you to the bungie cord after strapping the leg harness on tightly. When it comes to it, you jump forwards off the edge of the platform and fall like a rock until the cord tightens. Then you rebound up and down a few times, and if you're anything like me, you'll feel slightly ill. I lost count of the number of times I bounced up and the lack of control and visible direction was frustrating and mildly terrifying. At one point, I was spinning around and had a clear view of the circular rainbow caused by the mist from the waterfall - I started laughing at the ridiculous act just committed. My legs were quite sore after the jump - it hurts to bend my right leg and there's a bruise on my left shin. This is probably from the harness being too tight but I'd rather it was too tight than too loose...

After the jump was the swing and this looks rather more tame since you're harnessed and suspended in a mainly upright position. It is, however, the most terrifying. There's something absolutely unnatural about falling with your feet dangling below you and the acceleration is unworldly. My legs were tingling as I fell and I screamed 'NOOOOO' (but quietly so that, luckily, none of the other riders heard me). Once you're caught by the rope, it becomes much less terrifying and you're just swinging around, enjoying the amazing view.

The final of the three, the zipline, was the least worrying and terrifying and involved a gentle saunter across the river whilst harnessed to a slider on top of a rope from side of the Gorge to the bridge. If you're planning on doing the trio, I'd recommend doing the bungie jump before the swing - you'll enjoy it more.

After all was done, it was time for recovery in the bungie company's lounge - a plate of chips and a Fanta restored me to partial life. Finally, we watched the videos of our jumps - pretty amusing. My attempt to negotiate a lower price for each of our DVDs failed (possibly because one of the riders had already paid the full $45 for his DVD) and lacking cash, I didn't buy it. You'll all have to imagine what it looked like!

Dinner was at a traditional restaurant and was amazing - nchima (like the maize based ugali dough) and six different vegetables. Dessert was equally good, a vanilla milkshake from Steers. Zambia has eroded my bank balance and supply of dollars to unprecedented levels - it's unfortunate because I think it's a fairly cash rich country (as far as African countries go anyway). The taxi drivers here charge a surprising amount each trip and having had to go solo by myself a few times, I've been stung with the full near $10 fare. Trying to haggle fails because they operate some kind of price cartel - although walking along the road and flagging a taxi down yielded a lower fare than catching it from any of the main tourist hotspots.

This morning, Dan, Caroline, Tim and I took a short fifteen minute helicopter flight over the Falls. This was amazing because it offered a clear and holistic view of the entire Falls. The experience itself felt slightly rushed (the helicopter company clearly tries to minimise the turnaround time of their flights. I also wasn't lucky enough to have a window seat which meant that the majority of my photos have other people with cameras in them (or just the window pane of the helicopter). I won't bother describing it more since the photos will speak for themselves (see the photo section).

After the flight, we head to the bridge and the others went across to the Zimbabwean side. Not wanting to take the monetary hit, I stuck to the cheaper Zambian side, for which I already had a visa. Unfortunately, I asked after the Zambian immigration lady had given me an exit stamp. She wrote the words 'cancelled' over it with a blue biro, so my departure into Botswana tomorrow may be troublesome.

The spray from the Falls is unbelievable and I was glad to have worn waterproofs - being soaked within seconds. It's really something that has to be experienced and I'd recommend it to all.

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"Our thoughts define our reality." - Anon.