Erin's Tour d'Afrique Bike of a Blog!
An 8,000 mile personal and philanthropic adventure across Africa…

Dr. Livingstone, I presume

After three more days of big mileage and Zambian countryside, the Tour d’Afrique has arrived at Mosi-oa-Tunya “the smoke that thunders,” better known as Victoria Falls to the modern world. Victoria Falls is a (literally) huge landmark on this trip, as it offers weary riders the necessity of two full rest days and marks the beginning of the end of our trip in many ways. Upon arriving to the Zambian side of the falls and the Zambezi River, I immediately set off for the border to spend my rest days in Zimbabwe. I am fascinated by places like Zimbabwe, to understand what their culture and people are like beyond press reports that mistake the whole of a country for the limitations of its leaders.

A big crew of TDA riders stayed at the historic Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe, which was built in the early 1900s and offers a tremendous view of the Falls, bridge over the falls and corresponding gorge. The Vic Falls Hotel feels frozen in a more romantic time- zebra skins on the walls, portraits of the British aristocracy and soaring, elegant white facades impart a spirit of colonialist excitement and discovery. Cecil Rhodes believed that the elements of the British Empire were magnificently expressed at Victoria Falls and decreed that his Cape to Cairo railroad line should cross the Zambezi River at the Falls. “I should like,” he observed, “to have the spray of the water over the carriages.” I wonder what Cecil would have thought about biking across the Zambezi, let alone biking the path of his railroad. As a friend of mine likes to say, Vic Falls is a place intended for “the days when men were men.” Not that the boys on the TDA aren’t manly…sometimes. Exploring Victoria Falls I felt as if I might run into Rudyard Kipling or Dr. David Livingstone at any moment, and their legacies are certainly still vibrant tributaries to the Zambezi River and its stunning surroundings.

I spent most of our first morning visiting the falls with Australian Dan, Canadian Steph and Germans Katya and Ruben. Intrepid British explorer and missionary Dr. Livingstone characterized the falls as “scenes that are so lovely, they must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” One thing I love about Africa is as I overlooked a waterfall that is over a kilometer long and could swallow a person in a second, there is no guardrail, but rather a sign that says “enter at your own risk.” It is certainly a hilarious contrast to Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon and other natural attractions in the States. We opted not to spend $5 (or something like $100 trillion Zimbabwean notes) on the optional ponchos, and got soaked as we wandered around the Falls. It looked like it was torrentially downpouring in parts due to the Fall’s mist. We finished our tour of the Falls at the bridge and famous bungee jump sight, where several riders will jump out over the Falls this morning. Don’t worry Mom, I have no interest in doing that…on this trip at least.

We will get back on our bikes and enter Botswana tomorrow, revived and propelled by the landmark, beauty and history of Victoria Falls. Upon Dr. Livingstone’s death, his body was returned to Britain for a proper burial as one of the Empire’s greatest and most legendary explorers. However, many Zambians are quick and proud to point out that Dr. Livingstone’s heart was not returned to the Queen, and instead was buried in Africa. After four months on my own African adventure, my heart is also full of the sights, sounds and spirit of this still uncharted continent.


6 Responses to “Dr. Livingstone, I presume”

  1. You are entering diamond country! Keep your eyes peeled for shiny rocks on those Botswana roads… They could be rough diamonds! If you find any, bring ’em home and I’ll grade them with my newfound skills 🙂

    Missing you here in NY… and looking forward to getting you back here so you can meet all the awesome NYC Stanford admits! Enjoy these last few weeks — can’t believe how far you have come and how close you are to the end!

    Sending you a big hug and good diamond-finding karma…

  2. Er,
    When I first looked over the itinerary you gave me before you left in Jan., I thought Victoria Falls seemed like such a long distance from the start. You have reached this milestone and it sounds like such an amazing, beautiful spot. I am so proud of your strength, positivity and eagerness to learn and experience all this trip is offering. Enjoy, be safe – One month to go (I am counting the days) Love you MOM

  3. “Yes, that is my name…”

    Way to go Er! Boston Marathon is tomorrow. It is crazy here. To think how far you have come with your endeavors since you stood on the starting line of that race.

  4. Apparently there’s a spot on the falls called “Devil’s Pool” where you can stick your head out over the edge!!!

    Somehow the way the rocks are they provide a barrier to keep you from falling over the edge. (But not between the months of mid March and early May.)

    Love ya!

  5. Hi Erin – You make my heart happy and I savor your every thought and word. Bravo

  6. I close my eyes and I vision being there with you..and then I open them quickly because it scares the @!%# out of me! Debbie

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