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Diane's Trip Report Part II: Vic Falls

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Continued trip report . . .
On March 25, we set off for Victoria Falls -- more specifically, Livingstone, Zambia. We were nervous about staying in Zim, so we opted for the Zambia side of the Falls.

We were also nervous about malaria, so we wanted to stay someplace with air conditioning. We ended up choosing the Royal Livingstone and were 100% happy with our selection. Regarding malaria: We took Malarone and had no bad side effects. The one good side effect we experienced was incredibly vivid dreams at night. This side effect has worn off with time (I'm still taking the meds but my dream quality has, regrettably, diminished). Also, we found out somewhat later that the town of Livingstone is a hotbed of malaria. The manager of Little Vumbura told us that their friends live in Livingstone and get malaria 7-8 times EACH YEAR!! We don't think we even got bitten there, so we're keeping our fingers crossed.

The only airline to fly to Livingstone was Nationwide Airways (I think British Air is adding service). The plane was somewhat old (distressingly), but everything went smoothly.

The Royal Livingstone is in a stunning location, right on the river. It is beautifully decorated and the service was impeccable. You can see the spray of the falls from the hotel. When checking in, they give you yummy iced tea and tell you about all the activities at your disposal. You are taken to your room on a golf cart. The rooms are simply lovely -- each room has a full river view.

The first thing we did was book activities. We were very disappointed to learn two things: First, they had ceased offering white-water rafting a week prior to our arrival due to very high water levels. They stop rafting every year for several months, but it normally doesn't happen until mid-April. We were unlucky that this year the water levels were higher than average and that we came 7 days too late. The second disappointment was that the elephant rides on the Zambia side of the falls were completely booked for the following 2 days. Since I really wanted to do this activity, we booked an elephant ride on the Zim side for the following day. It is more expensive and more of a hassle (due to the border crossing) to do it in Zim, but I was determined to do it.

After booking our activities, we headed out for the Falls. The best piece of advice I received about the Falls was to bring a disposable waterproof camera. I was expecting to get wet, but I wasn't expecting to get quite that wet. It's like walking under a shower that has the best water pressure you've ever felt. It was lots of fun seeing the Falls that way. By the way, don't bother to bring an umbrella or raincoat -- these are provided by the hotel.

After seeing the Falls, we had dinner at the restaurant at the Royal Livingstone. It was superb -- but also the priciest meal we had in Africa -- easily over $100 for 2 (and we had only 2 glasses of wine). Again, the service was great; you are treated like royalty.

The next morning we did a river safari. It was just us and one other couple. The boat was a small powerboat. It was very enjoyable. We saw lots of hippo (which made we happy we weren't in a canoe) and a crocodile. I think normally you can see much more wildlife, but the time of year was wrong. The grass was very tall, which made sightings hard.

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