Saturday, October 19, 2013

African Safari - Part 3 - Zimbabwe and the Zambezi River

Here are some photo's from my recent trip to Africa and the country of Zimbabwe. It was fantastic to see the mighty Zambezi River in two locations, Victoria Falls (one of the original Seven Wonders of the World) and Mana Pools National Park.

At our camp in Victoria Falls (Elephant Camp) a cheetah orphan was saved and raised by local wildlife biologists and it has been totally habituated to humans. His name is Sylvester and he is a magnificent cat.

 Portrait with Sylvester. His coat was soft and warm.

Approach to Victoria Falls, where the Zambezi River plunges nearly 300 feet along a cliff that is one mile across! It is truly astounding to see it.

September is the low water season and there may be 38,000 cubic feet per second plunging over the lip in this photograph. I have been here in January and seen more water that shown here.

To read something about the geologic formation of the Falls, look here. For a detailed and excellent review of the formation of the Zambezi River look here. It seems that the mystery of the formation of the river is better known than our own Colorado River.

Remember the hyper-inflation that gripped Zimbabwe in the late 2000's? The phenomenal rate of decline of the Zimbabwe dollar was astounding (see here) and the ultimate rate of inflation reached 6.5 sextillion percent in mid-November 2008. Here is a 10 million dollar bank note. But wait.....

A fifty billion dollar bank note.......

And the largest ever printed is the one hundred trillion dollar bank note. (Recall the US debt at this time is about 17 trillion dollars). These are photos of actual notes that I purchased on this trip. Ironically, the notes arer worth more now as collector items than they were as official currency. The country now uses American dollars as their official currency.

Next I traveled in our plane downstream along the river to Mana Pools National Park. The river here forms the international boundary between Zimbabwe and Zambia, where the mountains in the background are located. These mountains form the shoulder of the southern end of the East Africa Rift. Behind the photographer is a similar rift shoulder in Zimbabwe but it is about 15 miles back away from the river.

First nights sunset with elephants grazing on an island in the river.

Sunrise along the river in Rukomechi Camp.

A downstream (east) view of the river at sunrise. This was my favorite stop on the whole 15 day trip. We were three nights here and a recent and unexpected rain had cleared the air of agricultural-burning smoke.

Sunrise on the lower Zambesi River.

I can't remember the name of this bird but there were so many beautiful ones on this trip.

Elephant mother and child.

The winter thorn forest away from the river.

A large baobab tree. These are long lived, some being as old as 4,000 years.

We saw great hippos at this national park and could hear them all night from our lodge.

A carmine bee-eater rookerie. These nests are within a deposit of river sediment.

Elephant reflections in the river.

An elephant footprint.

Hmm? What is this animal?

Ah yes, the leopard.

We found this mother a cub lounging in the forest. More leopard photos to follow and the final posting from this trip.

Yes, there are crocodiles!

Leaving Rukomechi Camp, we had a great view of the Zambezi River with sand bars visible just below water level. This is an amazing river and I hope to return soon.

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