But we were in Zambia and headed straight for Livingstone. We decided to stay in the JollyBoys Backpackers for the night and would then head off to the David Livingstone Waterfront the next day where we would meet the parents. Once at Jollyboys we learned the camping fee was $9 per person and we had to camp in the parking lot; not ideal, but the pool looked very inviting so we were sold. The place was buzzing with young people enjoying the sun and the pool. After paying the bill, we had the same idea as everyone else and joined them in the pool! We chilled out for the rest of the day and I even had an afternoon nap on the very comfy sofas. Rob made a quick meal before we all enjoyed a cold beer by the bar area. I was struggling to keep my eyes open so it was an early night for me while the three of them chatted to some of the locals.
The next morning was my birthday!!! Cat and Charles treated me to a very delicious English breakfast with five roses tea! It was just what the doctor ordered. We got back into our costumes and headed for the pool again. I'm not one to just get into cold water, so it takes me a little while to gain the courage to jump in. The boys were determined to get me in quickly and splashed me when they could. Eventually Rob started running after me and I had no choice but to dive in and get it over and done with. Such hooligans!! We threw the rugby ball at each other in the pool before lying on the sun loungers to dry us off. Such a fantastic morning.
Just before twelve, we started making our way to the waterfront as my Mom and Roger said they should be there by lunchtime. We pulled in to the parking lot and I noticed a car that looked very similar to my dads Isuzu bakkie. But I brushed that thought out my mind as he said, not too long ago on a Skype call, that meeting us somewhere in Africa probably wasn't going to be possible because Jenny (his partner) couldn't get the leave. We hopped out the car, got all our documents for us to check in and started making our way to reception.
Suddenly, my dad and Jenny emerged from behind their car. We were all in complete shock!!!!! What were they doing here? How??
I broke into tears immediately and I could feel my knees going weak. I had to focus on my knees not giving way and falling to the ground. I stood dead still, totally grounded to the floor and wouldn't dare move forward. I watched as my dad too was just as emotional as I was. We were all shocked! Charles, Cat and Rob were giving him and Jenny a hug. I finally snapped out of my trance and ran over to give them both a hug. While hugging him, I felt like I was young again and hugging him brought back a sense of security, longing and love for this man that brought me up. I have only seen him twice since moving to the UK in 2008, and its moments like this when you realise just how much they mean to you and how much you can miss your folks. So this was a real treat and an amazing birthday present.
Both Jenny and my dad looked so well, and I still couldn't believe that they were here.
We headed to reception and then to the bar to have a few celebratory drinks. We sat and chatted about their drive up from Gordyns Bay in South Africa and how sneaky they were!! It was fantastic to have them here. From where we were sat we could see beautiful Zambezi river with the spray in the distance from the Victoria Falls. We couldn't ask for a better setting.
We decided to head to the camping area where we would choose our camping areas and wait for Mom and Roger to arrive. We waited and waited passed lunch time, with no sight of them. Jenny had mentioned that the Botswana, Zambia border was a tough one and would take them much longer than they would gave thought. So we all jumped into our costumes and headed for the pool to cool off. We were having great fun dunking my dad and acting like hooligans.
Eventually around 4:30 we heard a car drive round the corner and it was them. We all jumped up and ran to their car. They were finally here!! It was hugs all round and we were thrilled to finally see them, even with their crazy plastic safari hats on. Again emotions running a little wild. We had been planning this for some time and they were finally here. This was AWESOME!! I noticed that they had two roof tents on the roof and when asking Roger why they had two, he said it was because we were having car troubles at least there would be a spare if we broke down. I shrugged my shoulders and thought that was good planning!
But as I was trying to get my head around his explanation. I heard a scream! Cat was screaming and shrieking! She started running towards two people coming out from the bushes wearing the same crazy plastic safari hats. It was Cats parents!!!! How where they here? My mom and Roger were so sneaky and hid yet again the best secret from us!!! Now it was Cats turn to turn on the water works. She was in bits with total happiness oozing out of her. (This of course is the girl that never cries!!) All throughout our trip, she always said the only real thing she really missed was her family. She thought they would never come out and join her in her adventure, as it would be too "rough" for them. But they were here!! And Cat was ecstatic! I couldn't have felt more happy for her than in this moment.
Robs parents unfortunately couldn't get the time off work and my Mom went up to Rob and gave him a massive hug sent from his parents. She told us how his mom and dad so wanted to join us and tried everything they could to get off work. But sometimes these things don't work out, but we all thought of them and they would always be in our thoughts.
We all chatted and set up camp before my mom pulled out a long happy birthday sign for David and myself (we both share the same birth day), balloons, a cake, presents and bubbly. This was amazing and our campsite looked incredible. We all sang happy birthday before David and I blew out the candles. David made a little speech before cutting the cake. We had an amazing braai that evening and ate like kings!! It's safe to say, we slept well that evening!
The next day we headed off to the falls and would try cross over to the Zimbabwean side to see the full size of the falls. Unfortunately they no longer offer a one day pass so they wanted to charge us $55 per person to enter and then another entry fee to the falls. No way were we going to pay that, so we decided to stay on the Zambian side and would see the falls from there. I felt awful as everyone kept saying we wouldn't see much on the Zambian side, and now we had all the parents here who had all travelled so far.
But we headed back to the bridge towards Zambia where we were all egging Charles and Cat to bungee jump off. They both seemed a little unsure, particularly when they saw the price at $160 each. We admired the falls from the bridge, taking a few photos and chatting to the locals who were trying to sell their memorabilia to us. David did end up buying a little hippo, who he would later call Catherine. Cat wasn't sure whether to be offended or flattered, but David assured her that it was because her favourite animal was a hippo, not because she was a hippo. We all laughed!!
We headed up to a bar and low and behold they sold the bungee jumping tickets here. The folks all said they would pay and therefore Charles was in. Cat still was feeling unsure and said no! She was not doing it. My dad had a little chat with her and persuaded her that she would regret it if she didn't. He had changed her mind and they were both in. She started jumping around, shaking her hands and just becoming a little restless. You could see the panic rising up within her.
I had already bungee jumped in Bloukrans in South Africa 3years ago, which is the worlds highest bungee jump at 216m. But I was itching to jump as well, so my mom said why not and she would pay for me too. This was incredible, and we were being so spoilt! Rob wasn't interested and wanted to stay behind and enjoy a cold beer while taking a few photos of us.
So we said our goodbyes and headed down to the bridge where they would strap us us and we would all jump one after another down the 111m jump. Cat insisted she go first as she was petrified she wouldn't do it if she went last. She jumped first and watching her from the bridge made my heart pound that much more. Charles was oozing with pride that she had done it. It was him next and he seemed very together and calm. But he ensured me, his heart was pounding just as fast as mine. The adrenaline is indescribable! He jumped with such grace, screaming bungee as he lept off. It was me next.
After strapping the harness to my body, I slid under the barrier to the jumping platform. They sat me down and started attaching the harness around my feet where they would then attach the elastic bungee cord and do all their checks before walking you to the edge. At that moment, your body starts shaking as they tell you not to look down. Even though i had done this before, my body was still shaking like a leaf while my mind had a WTF going over and over in my head. It's not natural throwing yourself off a bridge after all! But they started shouting 5... 4... 3.... (There was no going back now!) 2... 1... And I was off. Watching the ground moving closer and closer to you at a heck of a speed, you start doubting when the cord will pull you back up. But eventually it does and you start hanging in the air, bouncing up and down gently. This was when you can take in the sights of the falls, the river, the scenery and the bridge above! You feel like you could take over the world at this point!
After Freedom (I thought his name was quite fitting for his job) pulled me back up, I could join Cat and Charles on the other side of the bank. We were all feeling the same, indestructible feeling and we all hugged each other in total pride that we all did it! It was incredible!!!!
Back at the bar, we all enjoyed celebratory drinks. Watched the videos of our craziness and Cat and Charles even bought a t-shirt to remember this insane moment.
We headed to the falls on the Zambian side. When we got there we were told there was the wet walk or the dry walk, so we opted for the wet walk first and then the dry walk to help dry us off. We walked along the main path along a cliff opposite the falls where we would take in the vastness of the water cascading down. The falls are 1688m wide and average just over 100m in height. Between 550-750 million litres (depending on seasons) cascade over the lip every minute, making this one of the worlds greatest waterfalls and one of earths great spectacles being the seventh natural wonder of the world. We wandered down the path taking photos of this amazing view!! As we got further and further down the cliff we were getting wetter and wetter from the spray off the falls. It was the strangest sensation as it was raining in the heat of the day with the sun beating down on us. It started off with a little shower and then all of a sudden a total downpour! We were all drenched but loving it. We were in hysterics at our appearance as we all looked like drowned rats!!! We were having an absolute blast!
At one point Rob was trying to act funny and surf down the wet bridge in his flip flops. Well, you can just imagine how that turned out! He landed in a big heap at the bottom of the bridge and we couldn't help but laugh at his misfortune. I still never understand how watching someone hurt themselves can be so funny. But he too was laughing, so he didn't hurt himself that badly, luckily!!
We wandered back up and then onto the dry walk which luckily did dry us off nicely before we got taxis back to the campsite ready for our sundowner booze cruise. We had an hour to dot about before heading to the boat. So a few drinks later and a quick change of clothes we were on the boat and enjoying the amazing views as we drifted up the river. We were in awe of the amazing scenery and spent our time searching and spotting beautiful birds, hippos and crocodiles on the banks. They brought out some snacks and told us to help ourselves to drinks from the bar. It was an open bar and we all made great use of it, fetching one drink after another and we were soon all getting very merry. Dinner was soon served, and we were all enjoying the boerewors, salad and rolls. Just what the doctor ordered. I got talking with some local farmers who were also enjoying the amazing boat cruise. I always enjoy chatting to the locals as you get to find out what living in these countries would be like if you are willing to work hard.
Just before getting off the boat the sun started to set and an amazing array of oranges, peaches and reds filled the sky. It was breathtaking with colours reflecting off the water. We were so lucky to witness this with our family there to enjoy it with us.
We headed back to camp, but the night was not yet over as we all got into our costumes and went for a dip in the pool. We had great fun, but Rob was rather drunk and decided he wanted to skinny dip. The girls had not yet got into the pool, so he was skinny dipping with the boys. In his drunkenness, he had got it all wrong. So he slipped his board shorts back on and everyone could all swim feeling more comfortable. Once we were all in, we were all dunking each other and having a great time messing around. It started getting a little chilly, so we headed back to camp where we would all sit around chatting and discussing and laughing about our day.
After about an hour and a half, Rob still hadn't returned from the pool, so I went in search of him. He was not in the tent. He was not in the pool. He was not disturbing other campers. So my last option was to check the toilets. I called into the men's toilets and heard nothing. I called his name again, with no reply. I could hear the shower going, so I stuck my head further in and called again. Still with no answer, so I went in to investigate. Low and behold he was passed out in the shower with only the hot water beating down. He was red as a tomato, and not at all pleased to see me. This was the second night I would have to bag him to go to bed as was so drunk he couldn't even walk. He had been drinking whiskey again, which totally doesn't agree with him and just the sight of me makes him angry. I pulled him up and tried to get him to walk over the toilets for a tactical chunder, but he was angry with me that he couldn't walk himself. After one too many swear words directed my way, I gave up and asked Charles to help. This was the second drunken night on whiskey.
So Charles disappeared into the bathroom and I hid around the corner so Rob wouldn't see me. Charles started talking bollocks to him and telling him to get his act together. It was actually hilarious to watch as Charles bored him to death by chatting non-stop, joking and laughing at Rob and keeping him awake. I most certainly don't have the patience my brother has, but it worked and eventually Charles got him up and moving after letting him throw his guts up. Charles was my hero that night!!
The next morning we got up early so we could say our goodbyes to my dad and Jenny who needed to start making their way back to South Africa. We had booked canoeing for the day and my dad and Jenny booked a helicopter flight over the vic falls before driving south. So we headed to reception all together where we could say our final goodbyes and wish them safe travels back . Once again our emotions were running high, and there were tears once again. It was so amazing to have my dad and Jenny come visit us. Such a treat, but it won't be long until we join them in Gordyns bay in a few months time.
We all piled into a bus where we drove to our launching point into the Zambezi river. We would be canoeing on blown up 2 man raft boats that would be difficult to flip if the rapids got too much. After a security briefing that took forever, we were soon off. The scenery was amazing and we all searched for birds and wildlife on the banks. It was absolutely stunning and incredibly peaceful. We eventually stopped for some lunch an enjoyed delicious beef or ham rolls that were absolutely devine, and gave us a good energy boost for the second part of the day canoeing back towards the falls. What a fantastic day it was.
The next morning David had booked a microlight trip over the falls, and very kindly paid for Rob to go with him. So they got up at the crack of dawn to be at reception for 6:45. I gave him a kiss goodbye and was feeling incredibly jealous!
Rob boasted about his experience telling me how it was the best thing he had ever done. It was the first time I had ever heard him so enthusiastic about what he had experienced. He got to see the entirety of the impressive Victoria Falls. He got to see elephants, warthogs, bushbuck, giraffes, hippos and other animals from 300ft up. His pilot told him about the last White Rhinos that were being guarded 24/7 in a small national park here in Zambia. He just wouldn't stop talking about it and how lucky he felt that David so willingly invited him. For a man of little words, he wouldn't shut up about it. And I was so pleased and happy for him that he got to do it!!!!
In robs words.... IT WAS FUCKING BRILLIANT!
After the boys returned, we headed off to Shoprite before heading north to the Kafue National Park. After about an hour and half in Shoprite, we were soon off and on the road. Unfortunately we arrived at the national park too late to enter so we bush camped outside the gates. This would be the folks first time bush camping and they seemed to take it really well considering there were no showers! David got chatting to the locals and it seemed as though he was loving getting to know the kids and learning all about them. He must have been feeling really generous as he started handing out all his copious amounts of socks he overpacked. They were loving it! And so was he.
Later one of the Rangers came over to have a chat and educate us about the difficulties the park faces with poaching and support from the locals. He was lovely and incredibly passionate about the park and his job. He helps to educate the poachers on the importance of the animals in the park and the money it generates for their local villages. Again, David was in the giving mood and gave him his trainers, that so happened to be a perfect fit. He was over the moon!!
We woke up very early the next morning as the park opens at 6, but this is Africa after all, and the gate staff only showed up at 6:45. So we had been stood around for quite some time. We even started playing with the Ant-Lions in the sand to help pass the time. The folks paid for the very expensive park fees and we were finally in. Unfortunately the grass was incredibly high and we saw nothing. We did however have some fun as there was big craters in the road. Unfortunately their hired car didn't have the ground clearance ours does, so Roger did some off roading in the bush to get around it while Charles directed him. He did really well, and seemed to enjoy it. Our broken landies glided over it with ease and we were back on the road. We arrived at our first campsite called Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp. It had a beautiful deck overlooking a damn. We brought some drinks and chips to enjoy while doing a bit of bird watching before the sun went down. Such a great way to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.
During the night we were woken by lions just outside our camp roaring the night away. They were loud and one by one we all awoke to listen to them. It was magical!
For breakfast we headed back to the deck to see what the morning would bring us at the dam. We saw some amazing birds and enjoyed watching the sun rise. After some crispy bacon on provita's, we were back on the road and already seeing more than yesterday. Lion tracks in the road next to the camp site, baboons running riot, a duiker, pukus and impalas and awesome birds. We eventually arrived at a turn off which was indicated on the satnav, however there was no sign of any road. So took the parents off roading once again. They seemed all a little stressed, but they were following Charles with ease. Charles did an amazing job picking the best lines and we were soon back on the normal road, and it seemed as though the parents all released a sigh of relief.
We arrived at the Hippo Camp and set up for the night. They had started a fire for us and got a fire going to heat up the boiler for hot showers. We ate like kings once again and feasted on an amazing braai for dinner. Instead of lions calling throughout the night, this time we had hippos grunting the night away. It's awesome here in paradise!!
Again we woke up nice and early and headed back to the reception area to enjoy our breakfast overlooking the river. We found out about a small campsite that had just recently opened further up north and came highly recommended. So we decided to head in that direction to check it out.
While driving we were being swarmed and attacked by the tsetse flies. They hurt like all hell when they bite. Unfortunately for us, we found out that they are attracted to the colour blue and moving vehicles. We were a perfect target. So it only meant one thing. The windows had to be up in the boiling heat of the day, with the fans blowing full force and we were increasingly getting more and more jealous of the parents who were sat in luxury with their cool air-conditioned vehicle. As soon as we stopped to see animals or take photos, the windows would be down and all of a sudden the swatting begin. Rob was going nuts making sure no fly lived, punching and swatting like a mad man. He would then add the dead fly to hit ever growing graveyard on the window sill. We were in stitches with laughter as the car would swerve off and on the road as Rob was too preoccupied with the tsetsies.
We were incredibly lucky and came across a pack of wild dogs running in the road. We couldn't have asked for a more impressive sighting. The dogs were gorgeous, with their beautiful multi-coloured coats and their large round ears on their heads. They were beautiful and we watched them for a while trying to get a good picture through the long tall grass and dodging the tsetsies.
We arrived at the campsite called Kasabushi Campsite and it was just as they told us. Amazing views, amazing bathrooms and an amazing location. We got to know the owners a bit and heard about their grand plans to build an awesome 5 star lodge on the river banks. We saw the development of a few of the cabins and, oh my word, they weren't kidding when they were telling us about how amazing it would eventually be. This place would be a little slice of heaven!
That night we had ran out of majority of food, only having catered for two nights in the park and overstaying by one day. The boys braaied spam (our left over rashons from the uk), tinned veg, couscous and mixture of other bits that turned out to be delicious!! Botched meals are always so good!
The next morning we went on an early boat trip around the river and its islands. The morning greeted us with beautiful mist rising off the water with the yellow sun in the distance. We came across copious amounts of hippos having a great time chatting to each other and seemed to pop up out of nowhere. The birds blew our minds away and we were all armed with our binoculars, cameras and bird books to make sure we were all spotting and defining them correctly. We were all laughing and chatting and just having the best time. We were once again so lucky to be experiencing this all together.
It was time to start making our way back down to Livingstone where we all agreed the microlight needed to be done by everyone. Before exiting the park we were blessed with seeing Roan antelope in the road and it was a great ending to our time in the park. He arrived in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, made a quick stop in Shoprite before heading to Eureke camp. We enjoyed another awesome meal before hitting the sack. During the night we were woken up by zebras in the campsite running up and down and causing a ruckus. There's never a dull moment here in Africa!
Unfortunately the next morning, we would be woken up to no clutch. Rob put his foot on the pedal before heading off to find it stuck to the ground. Bugger!! But luckily Rob knew how to drive it without and we headed off on the 500km journey jerking our way forward when pulling off in first. He did phenomenally! But it wasn't going to end there! As we were driving we could feel and hear grinding under our chairs and Rob immediately thought it was the transfer box. We pulled over and attached the tow rope to Charles' car so that he could pull us to Livingstone in neutral. As he was towing us we noticed it wasn't the transfer box but a rear wheel bearing. Rob could feel it through the brake pedal as we rolled forward. We didnt travel for long as a few kilometres down the road we were pulled over by the cops. It is illegal to tow with a rope and we needed a towing bar. They were really friendly and said we could continue as we were but couldn't guarantee the next police officers would be so understanding. we pulled over anyways to change the wheel bearing and would then hopefully be able to limp our own way back down to Livingstone with no clutch.
But it turned out to be a larger job than expected with the half shaft seized into the stub axel. We tried to free it and it took ages with no result. We even had a very friendly man called Ernest, who worked on a local farm, come over to offer his assistance. Then two other locals came over and they all wanted to offer their help. It was fantastic to see such kindness, but they too were not getting anywhere with getting it dislodged. Eventually Ernest called Watson, a friend that took part in Land Rover rally driving, and he would be able to come and help. He eventually came over drifting his Defender and showing off his skills. He arrived and still couldn't help on the side of the road. We were only kilometres out of a town so we put it all back together and limped our way to his house where we would have more tools to pry it loose. David started making friends with all the local children and seemed in his element while the boys tried to sort out the car. Unfortunately we were not going to get to Livingstone tonight.
The rest of us left Charles and Rob there while we went off to the nearest campsite. We enjoyed the afternoon lazing about and it was so awesome that the folks were happy to just go along with it, not getting angry or upset with the change of plans. We had booked a microlight flight the next morning and now they were not going to be able to do it. We felt awful, but they were being amazing about the whole thing, and just seemed happy to be with us.
Eventually the boys returned and we were thrilled to see them! Rob explained how they had to cut the half shaft out and replaced the stub axel, wheel bearing and hub. But this did mean we were missing a half shaft so Rob would have to drive in difflock, with no clutch.
That night we opened a few bottles of bubbly to celebrate our last night together with the folks. Their holiday with us was over in a flash!! We were so happy they had a snippet of everything that we had experienced in our 6months of traveling, all in the 10days they were with us. Borders, bribing police, African roads, off-roading, car troubles, African time, begging Africans, beautiful children, friendly people, sleeping in a tent, no showers or showers under the stars, long drops, bush wee's, sounds of the wild, birds, wild animals, cows and livestock, beautiful sceneries, relaxing together, delicious food, braai's, plans forever changing, family.... And the list continues! The only thing we didn't introduce them to was vegetable slop! Which I have to say I'm pretty pleased we didn't have to endure ourselves!
The next morning was time to say our goodbyes, and we were all in bits. Tears flowing down our faces and even the boys were struggling to hold it back. We had just had the best time with them!! They had spoilt us rotten; overwhelming us with their generosity, kindness, love and happiness to just get stuck in. Every one of them seemed to love it, and we were so blessed to have them with us. We love you guys so much and can't tell you how much you visiting us, meant the world!!
Love and miss you always....