Array ( [total] => 7 [pageSize] => 24 [page] => 0 [results] => Array ( [5373] => Array ( [iID] => 5373 [tTitle] => Visiting Murchison Falls [tSlug] => visiting-murchison-falls [iTime] => 1336860000 [iUpdate] => 1336860000 [tDescription] => This weekend was my last in Uganda for the next few weeks, so Niamh and I wanted to spend it outside of Kampala. For both of us, it's been a while since we visited a wildlife park, so we decided to head to Murchison Falls national park, north of Kampala, on the shores of lake Albert. Marlies joined us on the drive up north. The park, also known as Kabarega (or Kabalega) Falls national park, so named during Idi Amin's reign and after a local king, has now mostly recovered from raids by poachers and soldiers, during the Last King of Scotland's time as Uganda's dictator and is part of the 5300 square kilometers Murchison Falls Conservation Area. Murchison Falls National Park, itself over 3500 square kilometers, is the largest national park in Uganda. The Nile squeezes through an opening of seven meters before dropping 43 meters to create the thunderous falls after which the park has been named. It ain't no Victoria Falls, but it ain't half bad either The park itself is home to four of the big five, after rhinos became extinct in 1983. They can now be seen at a rhino sanctuary some 70km south of the park. The northern half of the park, where most of the wildlife can be found, is pretty, with its savannah and softly rolling hills. Sadly, we missed out on lions and leopards, driving around for four hours, but seeing elephants, several deer, hippos, giraffes and buffaloes. The cost of visiting the park aint too low, with particularly the daily park entry fee of 35 USD being a bit steep, with many of the activities requiring additional payments. Reasonable enough budget accommodation with excellent food at reasonable prices were had at Red Chilli. Surprisingly, it was the pork sausages with mash and gravy that was by far the best dish being served. But all the food was pretty good. An achievement, considering pretty much all ingredients have to come from far away. And, at Red Chilli, there's occasional free wildlife viewing, with semi-wild warthogs occasionally stopping by for a snack. I tried patting one, but was rudely snorted away when it became clear I wanted to right the pig. On the way to the park, we stumbled upon a real find, Kabalega Diner. 165km from Kampala on the Kampala-Gulu highway, this halfway house serves rather excellent foods in a pleasant setting with good service at affordable prices. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 2937 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 1145 [iOldID] => [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462211306 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 0 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 2.261 [fLongitude] => 31.641 [tLocation] => Murchison Falls [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20120513 ) [4719] => Array ( [iID] => 4719 [tTitle] => It's the falls! [tSlug] => its-the-falls [iTime] => 1270418400 [iUpdate] => 1270418400 [tDescription] => My first weekend back in Lusaka, Niamh and I went and paid a visit to Victoria Falls, or rather, Livingstone. While the girls in the house all joined a big group of local rugby fanatics on a long, long journey to Malawi, we took a 5.5 hour bus ride to the country's number one tourist attraction, which still meant getting up at 5am on Friday to catch the bus leaving at 6 or so. The most often used service between Lusaka and Livingstone is operated by Mazhandu. You get a drink and a snack on board and the busses are in reasonable shape. However, each row still seats a tight 5 people. Both going out and coming back in, I was lucky enough to sleep most of the way, making the journey go by in a jiffy. Well, not counting the flat tyre. This being easter, the Falls were rather busy. And this being just after the end of the raining season, they were also rather wet, giving us showers a plenty. And this being Africa, the entrance fee was doubled from March 1 onwards, putting it at 20 USD per person. In fact, it seemed like all excursions had their prices increased, again, to even less reasonable levels. This, in part, because the Zambian government has increased the fees for tour operators in the Mosi-oa-Tunya national park, I suppose because it's an easy cow to milk. That's not to say that the Zambian government thinks ahead. Victoria Falls is about to lose its world heritage status because the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe have failed to write up an extensive report on the status of the falls and its future. This might sound a bit harsh. That is, if you're not aware that the report is now more than 8 years overdue. We slept at Fawlty Towers, the other backpacker's besides Jollyboys and significantly more attractive, with a spacious outdoor lounging area. And on another upside, on the other side of the road from our guesthouse, the Ocean Basket has recently sprouted offspring in the form of an enveloping outdoor mall, Mosi-oa-Tunya square. With a pleasant Shoprite and several good restaurants, a very welcoming addition to the city. On our last evening, we enjoyed the beauty of a booze cruise on the Zambezi, though without the onslaught of hippos. Meanwhile in Dar With a longtime Dar hasher leaving for the UK, an intimate get together was scheduled for my last Sunday before heading out to Zambia, where a few of us enjoyed the spoils of a private house on the beach, some 40 kilometers south of the ferry crossing in Dar. Except for the heavy rains, things were quite enjoyable. Until we left, where it took us over an hour to get out of the dirt road leading up to the house, getting stuck on multiple occasions, to get through the muddy path to the main road. First using the wench when stuck, then getting help from a bunch of Pakistanis, fresh from a weekend trip on the beach. Very helpful, and even essential in getting us back on dry land, the Pakis seemed chockablock with Kilis and perhaps even drugs, 'AJ' having eyes redder than excited genitals. McDonalds wars Thomas Friedman, in his book The Lexus and the olive tree claimed that no two countries have ever gone to war which both have McDonalds restaurants. At the time that was true. Now, sadly, it no longer is. reports that Georgia has at least one McDonalds (and was in conflict with Russia), both Israel and Lebanon do and, apparently, so did Serbia when it was bombed by NATO (though, arguably, NATO is not a country). [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 7405 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 988 [iOldID] => [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462237626 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 26 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => -17.8543 [fLongitude] => 25.8545 [tLocation] => Fawlty Towers [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20100405 ) [904] => Array ( [iID] => 904 [tTitle] => Vic Falls from the Zambian side: very pretty pictures [tSlug] => vic-falls-from-the-zambian-side-very-pretty-pictures [iTime] => 1233010800 [iUpdate] => 1233010800 [tDescription] => It's a very often repeated adage that the Smoke That Thunders, Victoria Falls, is prettier from the Zimbabwean side. However, I've not yet known someone who was able to confirm this first hand. Until today. I took the free shuttle from JollyBoys to the falls, where a 10$ entry ticket, only 20 times more expensive than the local price, got me into the park with excellent views of the falls. Comparing today's experience with five year old memories from seeing the falls from the other side, it seems that, no, the spectacle isn't too much prettier from the other side, if at all, but there is a bit more variety on the Zimbabwean side. Just beyond the entrance of the park, a vendor is renting out raincoats. I wanted to experience the elements and continued unprotected, being soaked within minutes after leaving the raincoat rental behind. Walking alongside the falls, along a path and bridge called the Knife Edge bridge, you come to a point directly on the corner of the falls and the gorge below, with a similar viewpoint clearly in sight on the other, Zimbabwean, side. I hung around for a few minutes, indulging in the free shower I received, while counting the number of tourists on the economically stricken side. I counted three and waved, but with little response. It's possible I actually waved to Christo and two Dutchees, who I was going to meet the next day in Kasane, Botswana, who, unbeknownst to me, had decided to visit the Zimbabwean side of the falls and were there around the same time I was. Inside the park, I, three times, bumped into Noosha, an Iranian Java and Flash programmer, based on LA, and also staying at JollyBoys. Set to do some volunteer work in Cape Town for four weeks, she had attached a few weeks of trekking in southern Africa to get a feel for the continent. Later, back at the hostel, the day turned out to have been very lucrative for some. An Australian backpacker, Andrew, had his wallet stolen at a nearby pub after having gone on a booze cruise. Though he retrieved the wallet from under a tree outside the pub, 230 dollars were missing. Kate, Noosha's traveling companion, had her iPod shuffle stolen from the hostel. A German visitor, also staying at the hostel, claimed to have 1.8 million Kwatcha (around 350 dollars) stolen from his locker. I was waiting around the reception area when the German, with restrained anger, tried to communicate his grief to the receptionist, who wouldn't hear of it and deemed it impossible, not accepting any responsibility and claiming that this had never happened in all the years they were operating the hostel. Somehow, with two other thefts occurring on the same day, this struck me as extremely unlikely. Later, I spoke to an overlander in Kasane who, on the same day in Livingstone, had been mugged while walking around with two friends, having gotten a knife pushed against her throat. Comparing Zimbabwe and Zambia With few people actually seeing the falls from both sides, it's a nice exercise to compare the two views from the two countries.
Sprayed Meanwhile... on the Zimbabwean side... Me getting sprayed standing on Danger Point in Zimbabwe in 2004 (left) and looking at Danger Point from Zambia in 2009.
Victoria Falls The lone tree A lonley tree on top of the falls in 2004 (left) and in 2009.
The bridge to Zambia Connecting Zambia and Zimbabwe The bridge to Zambia in 2004 (left) and to Zimbabwe in 2009.
Two countries The Victoria Falls hotel in the distance Looking through the gorge from the Victoria Falls hotel in 2004 (left) and looking at the hotel from the gorge in 2009.
[iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 5068 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 9 [iVoters] => 2 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 917 [iOldID] => 1278 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462048774 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 19 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => -17.9284 [fLongitude] => 25.8646 [tLocation] => Victoria Falls [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20090127 ) [903] => Array ( [iID] => 903 [tTitle] => Livingstone, I presume [tSlug] => livingstone-i-presume [iTime] => 1232924400 [iUpdate] => 1232924400 [tDescription] => The above now immortal words were spoken on November 10, 1871 by Sir Henry Morton Stanley upon meeting Livingstone. Though he was supposed to have said "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" and it's not at all certain whether these words were actually ever uttered. Also, they didn't meet close to Victoria Falls, but near Lake Tanganyika in present-day Tanzania. Livingstone, credited as being the first European to see Victoria Falls, or The Smoke That Thunders, had searched for the sources of the Nile, the Zambezi and the Congo rivers. Livingstone died in May 1873 in Zambia, but much further to the north. Last time I was in Zambia, I wasn't too impressed with the country and now I'm pretty sure that Zambia, at least this side of the country, is not much more than a tourist trap. To get into the country will set you back 50 USD. A shuttle from the airport to town will set you back another 5 to 10. Going for an elephant ride is an abysmal 150 dollars. Rafting costs 130 dollars. Petting lion cubs costs more than 100 dollars. A booze cruise is 40 dollars. A ride to the Botswana border, 90 minutes, in a shared taxi is 5 dollars, where a ride to Lusaka, 450 kilometers is just over double that. Crappy internet costs 2.5 dollars per hour. The exchange rate for dollars at the place I'm staying is 12% lower than the official exchange rate while the exchange rate for euros is an unbelievable 30% less. Then, in Livingstone, there are seemingly no ATMs connected to the Maestro or MasterCard network and only one place which can give a cash advance on a MasterCard, I'm sure at unreasonably high cost. What ticks me off is not so much the unreasonably high prices, one can just choose to not give any tour operators the satisfaction of raking in the money, but the obvious fact that these 10,000s of dollars which get spent here daily do not end up with the local population in any meaningful way. The streets are still potholed, houses are crumbling, the shops are still dirty, quite empty, selling mediocre goods at best and, what's more, very expensive. Where petrol in South Africa is currently selling at 5.82 Rand per litre, about 0.60 USD, here, it's just over 6200 Kwacha, just over 1.20 USD. Still, business seems to be booming. The hostel, though it's not the high season, is quite full. I was hoping to upgrade my dorm bed to a single room upon arrival, but at 30 USD, the price of a double room, however many occupants, compared to a bed in a four-bedded dorm, for 12 USD, I refrained. The more so because I'm not so sure I'll have enough money on me in a few days to get out of the country. The place I'm staying at is called JollyBoys. Service is as can be expected at a backpackers in the middle of Africa, while prices are not too reasonable. A beer is 2 USD, where most pubs in South Africa will sell beers between 1 and 1.50. A meal goes for 5 USD. On the plus side, the atmosphere is enjoyable. Lots of relaxed seating areas, a pool and table tennis table a swimming pool with a fountain and even something which resembles a hot tub, but not hot. A pity it's raining a lot. On the plane, coming in from Jo'burg, the presence of lots of Dutchees as well as Hungarians took me by surprise. In the 90 minute queue to obtain a visa, I had ample time to acquaint myself with some of them. Turns out Nutricia is having something of a middle management meeting at Vic Falls to kick off the new year. Now that is taking care of your employees. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 5635 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 916 [iOldID] => 1277 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462189051 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 8 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => -17.848 [fLongitude] => 25.8541 [tLocation] => JollyBoys backpackers [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20090126 ) [153] => Array ( [iID] => 153 [tTitle] => Victoria Falls [tSlug] => victoria-falls [iTime] => 1082239200 [iUpdate] => 1082239200 [tDescription] => Victoria Falls, The Smoke That Thunders, is impressive. We visited the National Park surrounding the falls twice. Once on the Saturday, shortly after arrival, and once on the Sunday. Since we're near the end of the raining season, visiting the falls meant we had to swim on dry land. At Danger Point, where normally you get treated to some spectacular views, we encountered nothing but a tropical rainstorm. Normally, about half a million cubic meters of water make the fall. During the flood season, this increases about ten fold. 5 million cubic meters. Every minute of every day. The place is impressive, although it would have been nice to more easily see beyond the double rainbows and the clouds of water vapor. Wasted after Thursday night's party at the Book Cafe and the Mannenberg meant I had forgotten to bring proof of employment in Zimbabwe. With it, Betsy and I can get treated as locals at national parks, meaning, for example, that the entrance fee for Victoria Falls isn't US$20, but US$1. However, with Ivor, who brought his working permit, and some smooth talking, we were able to pay the local prices at the falls and the national parks we stayed at. After visiting the site on Saturday, we drove down to 'The Big Tree', a big baobab tree close to the falls. As in Hwange, our path was blocked by a troupe of elephants, but this time a huge male was taking care of his people. When a car wanted to pass, he started waving his ears and slamming one of his hind legs on the ground. The car decided to wait, although some of the nearby hawkers made moves to break the 100m-sprint world record. On the Sunday, after visiting the falls, we went down to the beautiful colonial Victoria Falls Hotel. We had wanted to stay there but the price tag of 110 euros per room, up from 50 euros in December was considered a bit too much. We ended up staying at the nearby Zambezi National Park at 3 euros per person per night. The view from the hotel, however, is stunning. In the distance, you can see the clouds generated by the falls as you're looking down the gorge that separates Zambia from Zimbabwe. We planned on enjoying a high tea at the hotel, but ended up doing a booze cruise or sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. Nathalie, the German girl whom I met during my first week in Harare had told me about the Zambezi booze cruises and I imagined large river steamers filled with totally wasted whities, not fit to walk off the boat themselves at the end of the cruise. Instead, we ended up on a 10 square meter barge with fold out chairs, seating 10 and holding two crewmembers. Snacks were available, made by our hostess Georgina and drinks, whatever you liked, were on the house. The guide/captain was knowledgeable; entertaining us with a mix of history, legends and folk tales related to the Zambezi, although the little dance he did on Georgina's song about the river seemed a bit superfluous. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 7904 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 148 [iOldID] => 230 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462118414 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 32 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => -17.9251 [fLongitude] => 25.8477 [tLocation] => Victoria Falls [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20040418 ) [152] => Array ( [iID] => 152 [tTitle] => Hwange National Park [tSlug] => hwange-national-park [iTime] => 1082152800 [iUpdate] => 1082152800 [tDescription] => We spent the night at the main camp of Hwange National Park. Close to Victoria Falls and Bordering Botswana, it's the country's largest park. There's a lot of wildlife in the park but since it's currently near the end of the raining season, we didn't expect to see much. Since it's so wet everywhere, animals don't flock around the water holes. Still, we were very lucky. We did a three-hour game drive and got stopped by a big ambuya elephant, picnicking by the side of the road and protecting her troupe. At the two viewing platforms we went to, we saw giraffes, wild dogs, hyenas, bucks, deer, zebras, loads of birds, crocs and more. In the morning, taking a bath at the imba we were staying at, an orange-spotted black frog fell out of the tab. It was struggling not to be sucked in by the drain so I helped him out of the water. Within seconds, it hopped out of the bathroom. When driving out of Bulawayo, we came across a gas station that actually was selling petrol. We debated about queuing up, but decided to try our luck on the road to Victoria Falls. Normally, you wait for up to three hours and then get allotted 10 to 20 liters of petrol, if anything. We got lucky. Two gas stations on the road from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls allowed us to fill up the tank [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 5877 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 22 [iVoters] => 5 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 146 [iOldID] => 229 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462060948 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 13 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => -18.7316 [fLongitude] => 26.9517 [tLocation] => Main camp [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20040417 ) [151] => Array ( [iID] => 151 [tTitle] => Off to Victoria Falls [tSlug] => off-to-victoria-falls [iTime] => 1082066400 [iUpdate] => 1082066400 [tDescription] => Yesterday night, after cramming 8 people in a worn out Renault 2chevaux, we struggled to the Book Cafe and the Mannenburg to have a good night of fun in downtown Harare. The lodge being quite full at the moment, it was good to go out with the new crowd, although an English lady who will not be named here seemed to only lighten up when talking to the local population. After we returned from Vic Falls, Darlington told us that a friend of his we talked to at the Mannenburg left the lodge early the next morning. Darlington took us back at 1am, although he went on partying till 4, together with Nigel. We got up at 6am, still wasted, so needless to say, I forgot a couple of things when Ivor and Jacqueline picked us up at 7 to leave for Vic Falls. I spent the first three hours sleeping in the back of the car with a thumping headache, a very upset stomach and dangerously active bowels. All went reasonably fine, although shortly after leaving Harare, a big stone hit our windscreen, creating a huge crack in the glass. Ivor contemplated turning back, but decided he wanted to try and replace the window in Bulawayo. Given the problems we had had around the new year with the broken window of a fairly new car in Budapest, I didn't expect a replacement window to be available for a 1992 Nissan Primera in, of all places, Bulawayo. After finding Carfill Auto Glass, we drove away with a perfectly good window only two hours later. Earlier, Ivor had stated a new windscreen would, at least, cost a 1000 euros. They ended up paying a meager 120. 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