Sunday, January 17, 2016

Livingstone, Zambia: Visiting Victoria Falls and DEVIL'S POOL

I am not overly loving this post title, but I refuse to dedicate anymore time to thinking up something more clever. So.

Anyways, Jesse and I literally had zero idea where to head on from Uganda - we knew we wanted to hit up some more of Southern Africa, so we basically did a price search on flights and booked the cheapest flight we could find.  Which ended up being Lusaka, Zambia.  It doesn't hurt that Zambia is also half-home to the super-famous, one-of-the-places-I'm-dying-to-see world wonders: Victoria Falls.  


What It's All About:
All you need to know is that Zambia is fancy and people like to shop in malls a lot.

As for Victoria Falls, it is a series of the largest, most baller waterfalls in the entire world - they span over 350ft tall (108 meters) and are 5,600 feet across (1,700 meters).  Victoria Falls straddles the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and are called Mosi-oa-Tunya in the local language (meaning "the smoke that thunders").  And they are completely stunning. The falls are so powerful that over a million liters of water PER SECOND goes over the side.  You can visit the falls from both the Zambia and the Zimbabwe side - the Zambia side allows you to be right on top of them and has the infamous Devil's Pool (a natural rock pool right near the edge of one of the largest waterfalls), while the Zimbabwe side has the more stunning views of all the falls.

Gratuitous shot of me hanging in Devil's Pool over Victoria Falls

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • Spent two days in Zambia's capital of Lusaka: and all I have to say is that Zambia is fan-sayyyyy.  Especially after Uganda, everything was super wow-worthy.  First off, there are a zillion shopping malls. Like, going down a main street you might pass by multiple fancy shopping centers - and never mind the fact that they all have the exact same 10 stores inside (consisting of a Wimpy's burger chain, Woolworth's/Truworth's clothing stores, Fresh Cinema movie theatre, and a Mugg & Bean coffee shop) (this list may indicate that I spent an inordinate amount of my time in Lusaka in malls, which is correct). Also, they have ICE CREAM STORES. It's a chain called Creamy Inn and is on every street corner; and I may have already eaten my weight in soft-serve.
Fancy shopping mall has not gotten the memo that it's way past Christmas 

Here is the infamous Wimpy burger chain

My bag may also have been torn apart on the flight from Uganda; so we had to hunt around for someone else to fix it. This thing is on its last, last legs

  • After 2 days in Lusaka, we took the world's most miserable 7-hour bus ride from Lusaka down to the city of Livingstone - the jump-off point for Victoria Falls, the WORLD'S LARGEST WATERFALLS.  Livingstone is named for the Scottish explorer David Livingstone, who was believed to be the first European to see the falls, and was a pretty big deal in Africa way back when.  All I can deduce is that he discovered a bunch of Africa that people back in Europe didn't know anything about, and he basically stopped slavery in East Africa.  And his heart is still buried in Africa because that's where his heart belongs.

First night's dinner in Livingstone: a million different kinds of meat and a lump of the local squishy bread made of cornmeal (called nshima) that has the consistency of mochi/mashed potatoes. Nom.

And the next morning, entering Victoria Falls!

  • The first day, we signed up to go to Devil's Pool - I touched on it briefly above, but it's a natural pool that seriously sits right on top of one of the largest cataracts - you can hire a guide to take you out to Livingstone Island, and they will trek you to the Devil's Pool.  The hike out to the pool was no joke itself - it involved basically trekking through rocky rivers and mini-waterfalls for about 45 minutes.  

Just balancing on tiny unstable rocks while crossing rivers

And basically wading through rivers

This was one of the craziest parts - balancing on a thin concrete pipe with water rushing over it to cross this entire river. You could feel the water pushing your feet as you moved

  • Then you get to the top of the waterfall - and you have to swim against the current (you know, the current that's trying to pull you over the edge of the waterfall) with only a tiny safety rope to prevent you from going over  (which is insane because I don't recall being asked if I knew how to swim -- which you DEF need to be able to do, and semi-strongly to go against the current).  Then you reach the Devil's Pool! Which is SERIOUSLY right at the edge of the top of the 100m waterfall - and you're given instructions on how to enter, where to hold onto, and how to sit: because one false move, and you're basically over the falls.  The entire time you're in the pool, you feel the current pushing you towards the edge.  It was WILD - like, super, super dangerous-feeling - but also one of the coolest things in the entire world.

Joining our guide Wilson, me, and Jesse, was Christian from Germany. There's a natural half-rock ledge that sits near the edge where you can perch on (it's what we're sitting on) - but it doesn't go the entire way across or up out of the water, so you have to make sure it's there and that you're gripping onto it tightly

This is not a gratuitous ass shot.  Ok, it is.
Then Wilson held onto my legs and told me to lean over the waterfall. Which I did, but only because my Chinese upbringing ensures that I always follow instructions to a T.  It was crazy looking over the edge and 100m down into the canyon - all you see is crazy crashing, rushing water everywhere going so, so far down.

And then Wilson told me to do this. The entire time, you just feel this strong current pushing you - it's crazy.

Jesse's turn. I should point out that he was terrified and refused to do the "leaning over the edge" part.


Walking back, we saw the next group of people at Devil's Pool - see the super super tiny people on top of the largest waterfall?? We were just there!  How crazy is that??

So many waterfalls - and it's a low season for the water, too!

The crew overlooking the Victoria Falls Bridge

And this is a pool on top of the falls called the Angel's Pool - it's 12 meters deep and you used to be able to dive and swim in it, but not anymore. It's a lot more calm and peaceful than the Devil's Pool (hence its name).

  • After crossing our crazy trekking-through-rivers route back to the park entrance, Christian, Jesse and I visited Victoria Falls National Park itself. 

Christian and Jesse, just strolling on bridges past zillions of waterfalls

Waterfall pose

Look at the height of these falls!  SO IMPRESSIVE

You seriously just followed the paths and saw waterfall after waterfall after waterfall

And there were giant baboons everywhere. This is a very menacing photo of one.

These baboons are especially vicious - you couldn't even bring in plastic bags to the park because they told us the baboons will think there's food inside, and they will come and attack you for the bag

A very historic-looking steam train going over the Victoria Falls Bridge, which was built in 1905 by Charles Darwin's son (random)!

Another path led down to a gorge called the Boiling Pot

Named the Boiling Pot because the water swirls around like crazy. At the bottom left, you can see a tiny tiny Jesse in red shorts sitting on the end of the cliff. I opted to not die and stay up a little higher.

Fun Facts of the Day:
  • The official language of Zambia is English (in fact, the official language of every single country in South Africa, except for Mozambique, is English) - however, each country also has its own local language that the locals use when chatting with each other. But it has been SO much easier to get around, considering everyone can understand you.
  • The water flowing through the canyon of Victoria Falls is the Zambezi River.  It's considered to be super-clean, which means our hostel told us you can drink from the taps here!  Crazy.
  • Our guide at Devil's Pool claims that no one has died there. Then why does Google search autofill "deaths" after "Devil's Pool," hmmmm Wilson??  Speaking of Wilson, he does the trip out to Devil's Pool with tourists 4x/day, 6 days/week. How. crazy. is. that.


  1. Question! Why can't you swim in Angels pool anymore? (Per caption above)

    1. Unclear!! Our guide only said something about the government outlawing it - but he said it's hopeful they'll let people in again soon!? So I'm going to guess for safety reasons. Or corruption reasons. But why would you swim in Angel's Pool when you could swim in something called DEVIL'S POOL!?

      xo love you!

  2. Can you share what guide/company you worked with for Victoria Falls?

    1. We didn't work with a company. We just purchased tickets to enter the falls from the entrance. For Devil's Pool, the tours are only done through the Park, so you sign up for tours at the entrance to Victoria Falls as well.

      Hope that helps!