Hoo boy. This was a thing. A very scary thing. The scariest thing ever, as far as I am concerned.
I don’t frighten very easily. Or at least, I sometimes find that the things that scare other people don’t scare me at all.
For example standing on the edge of a boiling lava pit. Not scary.
Erta Ale Volcano, Ethiopia, April 2014
Feeding wild hyenas. Not scary.
Harar, Ethiopia, April 2015
Riding in a little outboard panga on the open sea. Not scary (Alekka disagrees).
Corn Islands, Nicaragua, July 2014
Hanging with the gorillas. Not scary.
Virunga, Rwanda, April 2015
Handling cobras. A bit sad actually, when I realized this one had probably been defanged. But snakes, not scary.
Kom Ombo Temple, Egypt, January 2016
But then there was the Devil’s Pool. SCARY!
Devil’s Pool, Livingstone, Zambia, December 2016. If you think I am relaxed and happy here, you are wrong. I am terrified.
Our Devil’s Pool excursion, like many of the activities on this trip, was planned by Kim back in September. Of course she asked me before she added us to the reservation. Sure, I said, after she described it to me. A natural rock pool at the top of Victoria Falls! Sounds cool! We’re in!
After it was booked, Kim kept saying that the Devil’s Pool was a thing she wanted to do but was really nervous about. Actually she might have used some stronger language. She mentioned it again at the airport, and on the ride to Livingstone, Zambia. On the way to the hotel where we were meeting our group to go to Livingstone Island, she said it again. And every time, I replied with something on the order of “don’t worry, what could go wrong?” Inside my head, I was thinking, “not scary.”
Well. Sometimes we surprise ourselves.
It started off just fine.
It was all good up to this point. But then we had to swim across the river. The people in the next picture had just come back from the pool and were putting their shoes on. The pool is not right where they are. It’s way over near the bushes. You have to swim at an angle across this section of the river and access the pool from another rocky island. To the left, just out of the frame, is Victoria Falls. So basically, if you don’t swim hard enough, this is where you go over. I would have taken a better picture if I’d realized right then how significant this is. I didn’t figure it out until I was halfway across.
The pool is just past this section
Well obviously I did it, and I survived. And I even went into the pool after I got across the river, as you can see from the earlier photo of the four of us in the water with our guide, and also from this somewhat more vertigo-inducing piece of evidence.
That’s the freakin EDGE OF THE WATERFALL
The pool has a natural ledge right at the edge, and it is deep enough that you can stand up. But the river current is pushing you quite hard toward the precipice so it is not exactly a relaxing soak.
Here’s a video that one of the guides took with my phone after we got out. He was standing on a rock just to the left of the pool. My palms get sweaty watching it.
So of course after we got out of the pool we had to swim back to Livingstone Island. It wasn’t quite as bad going back. At least I could remind myself that I would never have to do it again. Also there was a nice breakfast waiting for us.