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Zambia- A River Runs Through It


View 11 months around the world on geldere's travel map.

We left Livingstone and headed to Zambia’s capital Lusaka via bus. Lusaka is pretty hard to avoid as all roads in Zambia lead to it. After spending some time there I have to say it wasn’t my favorite city. Lusaka is a melting pot of rich and poor, rough in places, with not much in the way of sights. We visited the National Museum, which had an interesting display on witchcraft (still practiced by some Zambians), and had lunch at Subway. The food tasted pretty much as expected and provided us with a little taste of home :)
IMG_4935.jpg Photos from our Bus ride; ladies selling goods at a "bus stop"
IMG_4947a.jpg Women getting water from a water pump
IMG_4949.jpg Man carrying a bundle of firewood
From Lusaka, we made our way towards the Lower Zambezi National Park. We took a taxi to the combi station, then a combi to Chirundu (the closest town), followed by a taxi to a waiting boat, and finally a boat to our lodge (always a process). We camped out for two nights in a tent provided by the lodge which was in a great location. The campsite was situated above the river and included a bar with satellite TV (so Jeff could watch the US Open), deck overlooking the river, hot showers, and a pool. We spent several hours relaxing by the pool. On our first night, we enjoyed a “sundowner” cruise along the river and saw lots of hippos, a few elephants, and one crocodile. The next afternoon we decided to participate in one of Jeff’s favorite pastimes - fishing. We set out with Tobias, our guide, who took us out for four hours to see if we could catch a tiger fish, Zambia’s best known game fish. The long and short of it was that I caught two fish and Jeff did not catch anything (ironic, I know). The first fish looked like an enormous catfish and made a burping noise. The second fish was a tiger fish (so named for its impressive teeth). It put up a good fight and jumped from the water several times.
IMG_4973.jpg Hippos with their impressive jaws on display
IMG_5037.jpg The view of the Zambezi River from our camp lookout
IMG_5048.jpg Me and Tobias proudly holding the first catch of the day (the "burping fish")
IMG_5056a.jpg Check out those chompers on the Tiger Fish-appropriate name!
IMG_5059.jpg Jeff taking a crack at fishing
The next morning, we left the lodge by boat at 5:40am and reversed the whole process back to Lusaka. We made good time back to Lusaka, so we decided to catch a bus to Chipata, our next stop on a whim. It turned out to be one of our toughest travel days. We were put on a bus that was supposed to leave around 10:30 am, but operated on a “leave when full” policy and it didn’t fill up until 1:30 pm. While we waited, droves of people marched up and down the aisles selling everything imaginable. It was hot and our patience was wearing thin when the bus finally left; even the locals were getting irritated. Eight hours later we finally arrived in Chipata; we were tired, dehydrated and hungry. Moreover, since it was a last minute decision to head to Chipata, we did not have a room booked, so we hired a taxi to take us to one of the hostels recommended in our guide book. It took us two tries to find a place that had rooms available. Given that it was dark, late at night, and we had to go to two different hostels, the taxi driver charged us an arm and a leg (meters are a rarity in African taxis). Generally, I have an understanding that since we are foreign tourists, we will get charged slightly more for things, which I’m ok with. Most of the people here are very poor and it’s usually a few bucks we’re talking about, but in this instance, we were really swindled. So, that was extremely irritating but you learn for next time. In the end, we just shrugged it off and headed to bed for a good night’s sleep.
There’s really not much to do or see in Chipata, but it is a good stopover when trying to get to Malawi and/or South Luangwa National Park. So after a day of rest in Chipata, we travelled via combi to Mfuwe Village, the gateway to South Luangwa National Park, Zambia’s premiere game park. The trip took three hours on mostly dirt roads.
We stayed just outside the park at Croc Valley. Not wanting to repeat Chipata, we called ahead and reserved two dorm beds. Fortunately for us, however, the dorm beds were full when we arrived, so we were upgraded to a private cottage free of charge … one of the nicest places we’ve stayed since starting the trip :)
IMG_5077.jpg
We went on two game drives in South Luangwa National Park, one day and one night. The day drive sets off at 6:00 am (the best time to see animals is at dawn and dusk) and we saw lots of animals, including giraffes fighting (see below video link) and two female lionesses with cubs. The cubs were about three months old and adorable- we hadn’t seen any cubs up to this point so it was exciting. The night drive set off at 4:00pm (it is winter here, so it is dark around 5:30pm). The night drive was amazing though because we saw two leopards fairly close up, one at dusk and the other in the dark with a spot light. Our safari vehicle also got a flat tire and we all had to unload in the dark so that it could be fixed. It is definitely unnerving when you leave the safety of your vehicle in lion and leopard territory (and even more so at night) so we all had our headlamps pointed in the general direction of the bush hoping to not see eyes staring back at us.
Video of the Fighting Giraffes
IMG_5091.jpg Hungry hippo out of the water (they only come out of the water towards evening to eat because their skin burns too easily during the day)
IMG_5152a.jpg Mom and cubs- they were georgous
IMG_5201.jpg Warthog (aka Pumba :))
IMG_5267.jpg Up Close with a Leopard
IMG_5274.jpg Just after sunset in South Luangwa
South Luangwa was our last stop in Zambia, so the next day we set off for Malawi. Public transport is very limited leaving South Luangwa and combis leave the village between 10 and 11 at night (not the safest drive in my opinion given the dark, bad roads, wild animals, and tired/drunk drivers). As a result, we were planning to hitchhike during the day back to Chipata, but then by a stroke of luck one of the owners of Croc Valley was driving not only to town, but to the Malawi border as well - so we got a lift with him all the way to the border! It was amazingly more comfortable than a combi and he was officially my hero that day.
We’ll write more from Malawi soon!

Posted by geldere 07:22 Archived in Zambia

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