Sunday, April 20, 2008

‘On Assignment in Africa’ – an update from the Original 2AFRIKA, INC.’s Director of Operations, Dominik M. Zakrzewski

SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2008

It thunders, it smokes, and it’s exactly how they describe it. The Victoria Falls, I’m here and I am falling in love with Zambia more and more. Dare I say that I’m having a better, more relaxing time north of South Africa? In my opinion, South Africa is very modern; I yearned to revisit the more laid back African experience. Then again, comparing South Africa with Zambia would be like comparing apples and oranges.

I think the people of Botswana and Zambia remind me very much of where I lived in suburban Warsaw before I immigrated to the United States back in 1993. That is the image that I still have of Poland and I am once more reminded of it here in rural Africa.

I had time to do a final Safari Game Viewing Drive early this morning but I felt as if I’d done enough and didn’t want to over-exhaust my stay here. I saw many great animals and besides that, I REALLY wanted to sleep in today. I got along very well with all of the staff at Chobe Safari Lodge and exhausted a great two hour conversation with one of the Game Rangers, Judith, on our Safari Viewing Boat Cruise last evening. The Safari Viewing Boat Cruise was great as we saw tons of elephants and hippos - one even charged the boat. They don’t kid around! My evening was spent with two of my passengers over drinks and dinner with some of the staff of Chobe Safari Lodge whom over the years, have become friends.

Compared to last week, this week is really all about ‘taking it easy’. I’m away from the big cities and way out in the countryside. The drive from Chobe Safari Lodge to Kazangula is about 20 minutes though rural areas where you see markets, people, sheep and wide open spaces. The ferry crossing takes about 20-minutes and the drive into Livingstone is approximately an hour – which drive I shared with two ladies from Sweden.

At the border in Zambia I was approached by two young men trying to sell me souvenirs. At first I really hesitated but then I realized that these people do not have jobs. We’re their sole means of support apart from whatever their families can cultivate. Thinking about it, I would actually avoid gift shops and buy from street vendors. One can do a combination of both of course but I definitely know that when I return I’ll save all my money for the outdoor markets and street vendors.
I arrived at The Royal Livingstone, which shares the same compound on the banks of the Zambezi River with the Zambezi Sun this afternoon. I arrived ahead of time and so my room wasn’t ready to be occupied – I used the time to enjoy an onsite inspection of both properties with my host, Mwewa! It’s not that one is better than the other, they’re simply two totally different properties located within the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. A pathway connects both resort properties and then meanders to the Eastern Cataract of the Victoria Falls. The Zambezi sun is more African in décor and a little bit busier than the Royal Livingstone. The latter is a Colonial English-styled Property where you have your own butler and an unobstructed view of the Zambezi River.

Both properties being within a national park are home to resident zebras, monkeys, and crocodiles (in a small pond). Guests of both hotels have free unlimited access to the Victoria Falls. I just came back from my visit to the falls and they really are immense. I didn’t walk all the way along the path as you are sure to get soaking wet since the Zambezi River has been flooded. I think that perhaps going in the dry season, one might actually comprehend the vastness and size of the falls. During the wet season (which is just ending) the ravine is filled with smoke … that thunders.

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