Loving Livingstone by Jenna Miller

For our last weekend in Zambia, the group traveled to Livingstone.  Although I enjoyed every aspect of my trip to Africa, I have to say that my stay in Livingstone was my favorite.  From bungee jumping to walking lions to having my face licked by a cheetah, Livingstone provided me one of the best weekends of my life.

What a Wonder

Livingstone is home to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World: Victoria Falls. Although it’s not the tallest, Victoria Falls is the world’s largest waterfall when you combine its height (354 ft) and width (5,604 ft).  March is the best month to view the Falls, but I think December gave us a pretty darn good show.

We got to the Victoria Falls park a little late and didn’t stay nearly as long as I would’ve liked.  I needed more time to comprehend the magnitude of the Falls; they seemed to never end.  Nonetheless, I spent most of my time at Victoria Falls absolutely mesmerized.

Close Encounters

Easily my favorite part of the weekend and the entire trip was our Mukuni Big Five Safari.  Our trip to Mukuni started with signing a waiver form for our elephant, lion, and, cheetah “activities.”  We then got to meet our “rides” for the day.  Our rides turned out to be 6 African elephants.  My ride’s name was Sondela, meaning come closer.  I rode Sondela for a cool 45 minutes, during which I learned all about Sondela and her daily routine from one of the Mukuni guides. At the end, we got to refuel our rides via mouth and trunk!

After my elephant ride, we were swiftly taken to meet our walking partners named Simba and Nellie.  Simba and Nellie just happened to be a male and female lion, respectively.  When we first met them, they had just finished their lunches and were in the middle of their post-meal snooze.  After we each got to pet them, we then woke up the sleeping beauties for a walk.  And to my amazement the lions actually walked right beside us! To top things off, at any given time one of us was walking each lion by its tail. The guides said the lions are so keen to walk beside us because they think we’re the pride; wherever we go, the lions will follow.  Although we stopped quite frequently for them to roll around and utilize trees as scratching posts, I have to say Simba and Nellie are now my new favorite walking partners!

As if an elephant ride and a lion walk weren’t enough, we then got to play with three cheetahs.  That’s right, we got to roll around in the grass, get our faces licked, and play fetch with cheetahs.  A cheetah might be a ferocious predator but these guys were nothing but really big house cats to me.  All of the cheetahs were so gentle and relaxed.  I could tell they were loving life too based on how loud they purred.  Words cannot describe how much I loved the cheetah encounter so I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Don’t Look Down

To end the weekend, we went back to the Falls to do what else but jump off a bridge!  Bungee jumping is something I’ve always wanted to do and what better place than Africa.  The bridge connects Zambia with Zimbabwe in which during your jump you literally swing on over to Zimbabwe – no passport required!  Although I was a little nervous that morning, I was very surprised at how calm I was at the jump site.  I thought I would get nervous when I stepped on to the platform but as I walked onto it all I felt was excitement.  They quickly strapped me in, said “check” about 5 times, and hastily walked me to the edge of the platform. I’m pretty sure the speedy prep is so you don’t have time to back out.  Before I knew it, the “5,4,3,2,1 bungee” countdown was over and I was plunging approximately 333 feet toward the Zambezi River.  The only word I can think of to describe my jump is euphoria.  The adrenaline of jumping mixed with the peacefulness of my surroundings was nothing but euphoric.  Unlike some people who do it once just to say they’ve done it, I’m fully planning on becoming a regular bungee jumper.

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