I am not an adventure traveler. Adrenaline rush is never strong enough to persuade me to take up those crazy activities like Bungee jumping and white water rafting. I like to take in the beauty of nature, the sight, sound and smell, to enjoy the local cuisine and culture and to befriend the local people. But in recent days I have sadly found that the wow factor is disappearing, particularly when I am visiting a touristy place. Now a days, before going somewhere, I do too much online research, read too many reviews, and see too many spectacular photos and videos. I guess it creates in me an unrealistic expectations about the place. And I get slightly disappointed when I actually go there.
Victoria Falls is, of course, an overwhelming experience, but not an unexpected one. It was high-water season and the sprays from the falls were so dense that it was impossible to see the details most of the times, which was a little disappointing. Besides, nearby Livingstone town is quite developed and touristy, without any particular character or charm. It was definitely a memorable trip but I probably won’t get dreamy thinking about it.
However, Ngonye falls may fit the bill. A friend suggested that we could stop by at these small falls on our way back from Livingstone to Mongu. It is a small community-managed park. And if you don’t know, you would most probably drive by the entrance without even noticing. When we arrived at the reception, we did not find anybody but a single person managing the park. He was our guide too. The falls were situated at a good half an hour walk away. Just beyond the trees at the edge of the sandy backyard of the reception, we landed on a strange terrain made up of ancient chunks of hard rocks, with water flowing underneath. The stones were smooth like butter in many places, perhaps the work of water for thousands of years. It felt like walking on the moon! We jumped over a crystal-clear stream flowing through the rocks.
The little stream, with big shadowy trees on both sides, in this exotic land gave a funny feeling in my stomach. And the sudden appearance of a Cobra completed the bizarre dreamy feeling. Our guide sprinted and shouted when he saw the Cobra crossing his path. We quickly scrambled up the taller rocks to be safe. He tried to beat the Cobra away; and we crossed the place shaking with fear.
The journey itself was exotic enough. But when we reached the edge of the river, I was speechless. Ngonye falls are not tall and wide like the Victoria. They are not even any close. But they are actually a combination of eight different small falls forming a huge half-circle, all of them joining the Zambezi with grace. It was amazing to look at every direction to find a wild waterfall. The absolute absence of civilization, the wildness of the water and the strangeness of the rocks behind were truly mesmerizing. After a very long time, I had that ecstatic sensation. WOW, really!!! And I made a selfish plea to Ngonye. Please remain as you are, an undiscovered beauty.