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Old 11-27-2017, 03:23 PM   #1151
Howard Treesong
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Next time, take a six-pack over and join the loleuro drinkfest.
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Old 12-03-2017, 07:01 AM   #1152
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Hello from the baby seals at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve on the Skeleton Coast in Namibia



There are over 200k seals at the Reserve and you can smell every last one of them, I tell you what.
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Old 12-03-2017, 08:41 PM   #1153
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

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I’d use it here except that everyone would think I’m weird.
Too late
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Old 12-10-2017, 04:36 PM   #1154
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Currently in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, will start heading south again the day after tomorrow.

So yeah. Left Cape Town a few weeks back on the long loop up into Namibia and then back down to Cape Town. Immediately had this great road trip omen:



which was almost immediately followed by two more of the same a few km down the road, tho those latter ones had already been mostly put out and were just smoldering. This one felt like a blast furnace driving past it.

Went north up along the west coastline as much as was feasible. Ended up staging in Springbok, South Africa for a night before heading into Namibia. Picked up some tire repair stuff, a small pump, lots of water, etc. Did not go with the:



The crossing out of South Africa and into Namibia was super smooth. Not much traffic at that border post, at least not when I was there. Did the standard forms and questions, and then it was time for:



and lots of this:



kind of endless desolation. Just lots and lots of nothingness and dirt. Made my way up to the turnoff for Fish River Canyon and loaded up on some essentials at the fueling station:




before turning off the paved highway onto the gravel road.

Namibia's road system is in 3 tiers. There are the B roads, which are national tarred/asphalt roads like the one above. Those cross the country and are meant for major long distance traffic. Then there are the C roads, which are usually unpaved decent condition dirt or gravel roads. There are also the D roads, which are absolutely actual roads but... well, you'll see soon enough. The D roads are why I brought the tire repair stuff.
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Old 12-10-2017, 04:50 PM   #1155
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Made it out to Fish River Canyon without incident, and saw what would be a repeating motif:



lots 4x4s and overlanding vehicles. And tiny car all by its lonesome. Most people doing self drives in Namibia go with 4x4s as the country is notorious for eating tires and having poor roads. The ones that go in groups end up in those huge bus type things called overlanders. I had considered doing the overlanding thing but just couldn't bring myself to be stuck in one of those on a packaged trip. The 4x4s are super expensive and seemed like overkill, so tiny car it was.

FRC is the second largest canyon in the world after the USA#1 Grand Canyon. Notable differences include the almost complete lack of any kind of safety barriers:



amongst other things. You could very easily just walk over drive right over the side if you felt like it.

There are tons of photos of FRC online, so let's focus on something more interesting - the baboon raid on the neighboring camp. As already mentioned previously, some loleuros showed up right at dark and set up their camp in the site adjacent to mine. They left food out, and I've already posted a photo of the crisps thief. Here's another photo of the main stash being raided:



which the baboons took turns doing. It was pretty funny watching them gobble down everything in sight as fast as they could shove stuff in their mouths.


From FRC it was back into the desolation of the Namib Desert:



on the way to Luderitz, which is a small city on the coast. Not much out there except dryness and sand. A few wild horses as well:



which have adapted to desert living and can go something like 5 days without water, if wikipedia is to be believed. Saw a few of them horsing around, they looked pretty healthy. There is a blind set up somewhere in the desert near an artificial water hole that someone set up for them, but I didn't check it out because lolhorses.
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Old 12-10-2017, 05:05 PM   #1156
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

So Luderitz itself is just a random town on the coast that popped up during the diamond mining craze back in the day. It's now a pretty sleepy little place, not much going on. The reason people head out there is to check out Kolmanskop, which is a deserted mining ghost town that the dunes and sand are slowly eating:



You can walk thru the buildings and see how the sand is infiltrating and breaking everything down:



and there are lots of sweet photo ops if you are into this kind of thing. There's an abandoned bowling alley, random tubs just out in the dunes, etc. You need to watch where you step because there are lots of things you don't want to step on.

From Luderitz it was time to head inland again and then northwest to the Skeleton Coast. Took a scenic route on one of the D roads for that part of the trip. Well, tried to. Was moving along on a few cm of sand covering the road when I learned where the term sand trap came from. Almost like flipping a light switch, tiny car was suddenly buried in sand up the the halfway point on all the tires. This was on one of the rarely used roads and I hadn't seen another car in about 90 minutes so it was sad times.

Had passed this guy a half hour earlier:



and wasn't keen on joining the club.

Wasn't too worried with 10L of water and a bunch of food, but was certainly happy to see a German couple eventually come by in a 4x4 while I was trying to dig out. They had a tow cable and I wasn't that far into the trap, so they pulled me out and I turned around and headed back the way I had come.

Turns out I was able to pay it forward. Heading up a C road instead of the D, I came across this guy:



who had clearly not heard whatever the oryx version of "a man's got to know his limitations" is. Tried to get him lose by untangling the fence from his hoof but the ****er kept trying to shish ka bob me with those horns, because no good deed goes unpunished I guess.

Was able to eventually flag down a couple of other vehicles, one of which had a multitool that was able to clip wire. Standing just outside of stabbing range, we cut the wires that he was tangled in and slid them out of his hoof. He didn't immediately get up and run away, probably snapped his leg in the fall. Having done what we could, we wished him well and departed. Hopefully it was just exhaustion and he was able to recover and not become jackal dinner or biltong. Stopped at a nearby farmhouse and let them know about him so they could at least provide a quick death if they were unable to help.
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Old 12-10-2017, 05:18 PM   #1157
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

The next stop was the famous sand dunes at Sossusvlei, probably Namibia's most well known attraction. They are a bunch of really, really big dunes. You walk up them, look around, then walk back down.



Tiny car is the little white dot underneath one of those trees in the center.

That was one of the smaller dunes near the main camp site area. There are much larger ones an hour or so toward the coast. As usual, you have to drive a parched road:



which was somehow paved, something that is not usual at all, thru lots of desert until you reach the area that you can't drive any further without a 4x4. Even with a 4x4, probably not a great idea to drive the last bit unless you are super experienced with deep sand driving. They have a little shuttle at the end parking area that takes you on to the final dunes and the Deadvlei area, which is a dried up pan that had water in it a few hundred years ago. Now there are just a bunch of not quite fossilized trees.

There are also pans that have had water more recently:



and I walked thru some to get to the dune named Big Daddy. My timing was pretty horrible and it was mid-day, so I only climbed about 75% of the way up:



before deciding I didn't want to end up as vulture bait, and turned around. Here's the view looking back at the shuttle point from maybe 30 minutes before deciding to make a 180:



the shuttle pickup area is the furthest away part of the green area. I had stupidly gone up in flip flops despite deliberately bringing hiking boots after arriving right as the shuttle was heading out and completely forgetting about the boots in the excitement to make it on the shuttle in time. This lol unforced error resulted in learning just how hot sand can get in the Namibian desert at mid-day in the summertime. It was pretty brutal, and most of the reason I turned around instead of making it all the way up. No one to blame but myself for that one!
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Old 12-10-2017, 09:27 PM   #1158
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

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Looks like the kind of place I'd like to retire to, if it weren't in Africa.

I dint know there was desert in southern Africa.

What's the story on the ghost town? Why was it built?
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Old 12-11-2017, 12:07 AM   #1159
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

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Turns out I was able to pay it forward. Heading up a C road instead of the D, I came across this guy:



who had clearly not heard whatever the oryx version of "a man's got to know his limitations" is. Tried to get him lose by untangling the fence from his hoof but the ****er kept trying to shish ka bob me with those horns, because no good deed goes unpunished I guess.

Was able to eventually flag down a couple of other vehicles, one of which had a multitool that was able to clip wire. Standing just outside of stabbing range, we cut the wires that he was tangled in and slid them out of his hoof. He didn't immediately get up and run away, probably snapped his leg in the fall. Having done what we could, we wished him well and departed. Hopefully it was just exhaustion and he was able to recover and not become jackal dinner or biltong. Stopped at a nearby farmhouse and let them know about him so they could at least provide a quick death if they were unable to help.
the poor thing has **** him self out of fear
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Old 01-02-2018, 01:51 PM   #1160
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

sup chop, been a while and was wondering how you spent the last few weeks of 2017...
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Old 01-02-2018, 03:22 PM   #1161
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

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What's the story on the ghost town? Why was it built?
Diamond mining, about 1908-1928. Then the seam ran out and they found a whole lot more diamonds a couple of hundred kilometres away, so the casino and church and saloon and everything just got abandoned, like in California.
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Old 01-02-2018, 03:25 PM   #1162
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

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The next stop was the famous sand dunes at Sossusvlei, probably Namibia's most well known attraction. They are a bunch of really, really big dunes. You walk up them, look around, then walk back down.
My nephew the supermodel (he looks just like me, obviously) had to spend days at a time up there having his picture taken, with other boys and girls, for some ad campaign or magazine feature, I forget what.
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:32 PM   #1163
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Nice updates. Always a pleasure.
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Old 01-04-2018, 01:40 PM   #1164
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Hey guys. Reporting in from the Old Bridge Backpackers camp in Maun, Botswana. Haven't had any wifi for a while and don't have much now. Will do a decent update once I'm back in Windhoek a little over a week from now.

Going on a mokoro (dugout canoe) trip tomorrow in the Okavango Delta, then spending the next few days getting stuck in the mud and sand driving around Moremi Reserve (also in the Delta) before probably heading back up to the west end of the Caprivi Strip for more lolanimals, then back to Windhoek to return the 4x4 and get ready to head over to Vic Falls.

Photos & more details will come once I'm back in Windhoek with a stable internet connection. Things are going well. Only gotten stuck twice but shifted to 4wd and unstuck us pretty easily both times. We did get raided once by baboons up in Chobe but they only stole my travel companion's food, not mine. There's running good and then there's running baboons-stole-the-other-guy's-food-but-not-mine good.
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Old 01-13-2018, 03:24 AM   #1165
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Arrived back in Windhoek a couple of days ago, just been chilling and enjoying hot/cold water, electricity, etc. Spent 20 days driving the Windhoek -> Caprivi -> Chobe -> Maun -> Okavango Delta -> Windhoek loop. I think that's now the longest continuous streak of sleeping in a tent I have now.

Lots and lots of stuff to report since Sossusvlei.

After Sossusvlei, I headed NW to the coast. Made it to Walvis Bay right as the sun was setting and found a small hotel that was pretty surprised to have a random USA#1er showing up on their doorstep. Guessing they mostly get local clients. The Namibians call the coast the Skeleton Coast because there are a ton of shipwrecks, including some that are still visible:



all those little dots are birds that have claimed it as their home. That one was a fishing vessel from Angola, according to the dudes on the beach who approached me to sell rocks as I was taking photos. I didn't buy any rocks but gave them a couple of bucks and a packet of biscuits for the history lesson. They asked for water as well but I didn't have any to spare. Felt bad about that one as they were living camped on the beach and drinking filtered seawater.

Kept heading north up the coast, stopping for some food supplies at Hentie's Bay:



which is pretty much the last real coastal town after Swakopmund.

Saw lots of rose quartz stands all the way up the coast:



where people leave a small container for your to drop your coins in after selecting the piece that you want. None of these stands were manned. Saw probably 80 of them. Didn't buy any. Just kept heading on up the salt road.

Stopped for the night at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve, which is one of the largest cape fur seal colonies in the world. Something like 200k+ seals at this point:




Live seals, dead seals, sleeping seals, fighting seals, you name it:




Some of the baby seals decided that tiny car was a good shelter:





and it took a while to convince them otherwise. As soon as I got them out from under there and backed the car away to take a final photo, they ran (hobbled? they aren't so graceful on land) right back underneath.

Made a few other stops on the coast including some other desertified sites like this abandoned oil rig:



(that's a black-backed jackal hanging out in the center)

before eventually reaching the gates to the actual Skeleton Coast Park, which look appropriate:



and continuing on for more shipwrecks and desolation.







Spoiler:
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Old 01-13-2018, 03:46 AM   #1166
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

So yeah, onward up the Skeleton Coast for more shipwrecks and stuff like that. Eventually the road ended and it was time to turn inland to the east:



where I met up with a Namibian Police Force guy that worked in the anti-poaching division. He asked for a ride to a town a few hours away and I told him to hop in. He told me about what it's like to work in the anti-poaching division and how the poachers have no problem shooting the police and the police have no problem shooting the poachers. Pretty crazy stuff. He put up with me stopping every so often to take photos like this:



of locals selling animal bones/horns. Eventually we made it to the town where his next posting was and I dropped him off after clearing thru the foot & mouth disease checkpoint. They didn't even spray down my car with whatever toxic chemicals they were spraying everyone else with, how lucky.

Pushed on to Kamanjab from there. Kamanjab is a small town outside of Etosha National Park, good place to provision up before heading in:



Also stopped at a cheetah reserve nearby. By reserve, I mean some dude captures and takes in cheetahs that would otherwise be shot by farmers and lets them hang out in a huge fenced enclosure on his property. The enclosure is at least a square kilometer, it's massive. He also has a few cheetahs that he's raised from cubs which live at his house with him like giant housecats.

There was a group of loleuros there as well, and the cheetahs tolerated their selfies pretty well:




one of the vicious cheetahs did try to eat me:




but I survived.

That may or may not be my arm they are chewing on here:




after hanging out with the house cheetahs for a while, it was time to load up in the cart:




and head over to the enclosure:




where the captured wild cheetahs be chillin:




well, they be chillin until the 2kg hunks of meat started getting tossed their way, then it was every cheetah for himself in a feeding frenzy:




we asked how wild they were given their new environment and the dude running the place just smiled and then somehow antagonized one of them into pouncing at him - here it is in mid-leap while the other cheetahs be like daaaaaamn:

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Old 01-13-2018, 01:44 PM   #1167
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Wow, amazing cheetah pictures!
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Old 01-14-2018, 03:01 PM   #1168
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

After the cheetah place it was time to head up into Etosha proper. Etosha is a huge national park in northern Namibia centered around a massive pan (dried out lake) and containing a bunch of water holes and camps. I entered from the west edge and traveled east, exiting at the eastern edge.

The first waterhole I went to right after entering the park set a pretty high bar:



as I've now found out is standard, the elephants always hog the water holes and don't let anyone else use them while they are there. That's why the zebras, oryx, etc are just kind of standing around waiting their turn. Elephants are *******s.

The first camp I stayed at had its own water hole with a hide built directly over the top, was easily the best set up of any hide/water hole I've seen so far:







the sweet thing about this kind of elevated hide is that you are pretty much right over the top of the animals when they show up for a drink, so you can get very close:



and the animals for whatever reason tend not to look up so they don't seem to notice you are there.
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Old 01-14-2018, 03:08 PM   #1169
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

You can still get fairly close to the regular water holes as well:



there were gazillions of birds swooping down to the water to get a drink, then they'd immediately fly away when that jackal in the center of the photo approached. He kept trying for a bird and did eventually get one which I luckily caught on video. Mcnuggets for lunch!

The animals in Etosha were more skittish around vehicles than the ones in Kruger, probably because Etosha gets a lot less visitors. Didn't get quite as close on average, but still managed a few close encounters:






When I saw all these guys hiding in the shade:



I figured they'd scatter as the car went thru, but nope:



the two that are lying down didn't even bother getting up as I approached. I stopped the car and turned the engine off and they just laid there looking at me, then the ones that had scattered off started coming back and soon I was surrounded. Stayed there with them until another vehicle approached and I had to move.
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Old 01-14-2018, 03:18 PM   #1170
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Speaking of animals that just kept sitting there as tiny car approached...



she was just chilling in the shade on one of the minor outlying roads that I decided to check out. I killed the engine and rolled up slowly with the remaining momentum but she didn't seem to really care one way or the other. After deciding I wasn't going to eat her and she wasn't going to eat me, she ended up going back to sleep with me right there, not a care in the world:




Since she seemed so comfortable, I edged up a little closer and this time she woke up and moved a bit, then sat right back down under the same tree:




we hung out like that for about 45 minutes. Only two other cars went by during that time and neither saw her (I pretended to be looking at my phone when they approached, obv) and just kept on going. So much better than the cat jams in Kruger!

Eventually she got up and crossed the road to check out a couple of zebra lunches:



and then promptly changed her mind and started stalking a few nearby springbok. I watched her do that for another 45 minutes or so and when she went for it I managed to capture the very brief chase on video. Her heart wasn't in it, apparently, and the springbok got away. She went to sleep under the tree they had been resting under and I moved on. Was incredible to be so close and watch her both chilling as well as hunting. Never seen a springbok move that fast I tell you what.
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Old 01-14-2018, 04:55 PM   #1171
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

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After the cheetah place it was time to head up into Etosha proper.
There's a cheetah place in Vegas I used to visit a lot too. It's a little different than your cheetah place.

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Old 01-14-2018, 08:26 PM   #1172
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Awesome everything Chop!
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Old 01-15-2018, 03:46 AM   #1173
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Timon - tyvm. The last two action shots are stills from video. Everything was taken using a Nexus 6 phone.

p4b - I dunno, all the cheetahs in my photos are topless as well.

Rexx - tyvm.



Will try and get in another update in the next day or so but lots to do so no guarantees. That last block with the cheetahs is from about a month ago. Still need to cover the trip back down to Cape Town, then the flight up to Windhoek and the following 3 weeks driving around Namibia and Botswana. Tough to keep up.

Currently in Windhoek, Namibia. Depart for Victoria Falls in 48 hours. Still need to research and sort out a bunch of stuff. Here are some of the to-do items:

- Figure out Zambia / Zimbabwe visas. They keep running out of the joint Kaza visa that allows unlimited entries into both over a 30 day period, no clue if they will be available when I arrive. Initially entering Zam from a land border that doesn't have them so will need to get one at Vic Falls bridge if they have them when I show up. Thinking single entry into Zam then a Kaza if they have them at the bridge, otherwise a single into Zim and another single back into Zam.

- Figure out Zim cash situation. Looks like most ATMs are currently out of cash so need to bring in whatever I'd spend. Lucky for this USA#1er that their official currency is the USD since theirs collapsed. Credit cards are unreliable outside of Vic Falls. No issues in Zam.

- Figure out where & how long in Vic Falls. Thinking about a week, split evenly on both Zim/Zam sides.

- Decide on where to head post-Vic Falls. Would like to go to Harare but pretty much everyone is saying that's a bad idea. Maybe I'll listen this time unlike Jakarta.

- Figure out post-Vic Falls transport to next locations. Lusaka? Then Lilongwe? Definitely Lake Malawi. There is a train from Livingstone (Vic Falls Zam side) to Lusaka that looks interesting. Only departs on Mondays and Fridays. Someone did a writeup a couple of years ago, seems fine other than the nonstop gospel music. Would also be sweet to get some train travel in given how few passenger trains there are north of South Africa.

- Need to pick up a few things while I know I easily can like AA batteries, etc.

- Laundry, the eternal struggle. Would be nice to wash clothes in something other than camp/river water while possible.
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Old 01-15-2018, 02:13 PM   #1174
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

chopstick,

In Vic Falls, I stayed at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. Found it to be pleasant, nothing opulent. I'd give it a thumbs-up. A bit out of town. Of course, there's many place to choose from. No idea on price, it was part of a big package.

For the visas, it seems as if Zimbabwe offered dual-entry visas (1 for $25, 2 for $40 or some such). I did not hear of a Kaza visa.

Vic Falls the thing is pretty awesome. Vic Falls the town is touristy. Walked over to the Zam side one day, just into their NP, it was nice too.

I think I remember Zim places also taking Rand, if you have any of those to disperse.
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