Irina Shayk in 2012 :: Derek Kettela/SI
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Day 4: Victoria Falls, Zambia
Beyond a few hand-carved animals and wooden bangles acquired in a trade at the market, the only thing brought home from the two-week-long getaway was months' worth of stories. Consider it the best deal in travel.
VICTORIA FALLS is the planet's biggest waterfall and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and every panel of the panorama could be its own postcard: the mist that hovers like smoke, the rainbows going in and out of focus. In October when the crew made the 20-hour odyssey, it was the tail end of the dry season, which meant that the smaller falls had dried up, allowing more room for exploration. As it turned out, it would also allow more room for error.
On the first day of shooting, the crew had set up shop on a field of boulders that extended to the edge of the gorge. By 7 a.m. everyone was so absorbed in the task at hand that not only had the CAUTION—BEWARE OF SUDDEN BURSTS OF WATER sign been ignored, but the reaction to the water swelling between the rocks was also a little delayed. A small panic ensued, with a mass exodus of people grabbing gear and sprinting to safety as the rocky surface steadily morphed into a waterfall. Neither tripod, nor crew member, nor model went over the edge that day. (Indeed as inventory was taken, Russian model Irina Shayk announced that she had "saved shoe.")
The nights were far calmer, but on the banks of the Zambezi the calls of the wild were always within earshot. A perpetual mist from the falls lingered just up the river. Some 50 yards off the coast, hippos bathed in the still waters. The best memories of the trip came courtesy of the happily unexpected. Like the elephant that for 10 minutes blocked the path of the boat carrying the crew home from the shoot when it suddenly fancied its bath time. Or the dip in Devil's Pool, the natural swimming hole implausibly situated on the lip of the waterfall.