Tuesday, July 16, 2019 | Zambia – Lusaka Province, Lusaka | Petra
VARIED NATURE AND WARMHEARTED PEOPLE
It is our first visit to Zambia and we are very excited about what to expect. After we managed the border crossing from Namibia to Zambia with patience and meditation, the new country extends a warm welcome to us with happy people. A wonderful feeling right from the very beginning.
THE FIRST DAY IN THE NEW COUNTRY
We leave beautiful Namibia at the border post at Katima Mulilo. As we have read and heard many times before, the border clearance there can be exhausting, and so we brace ourselves for the worst.
The processing of the papers by the officials at the border station is friendly and correct. Every move is done without too much haste, but with results. What really costs us a lot of time and patience is the chaos caused of pedestrians, black money dealers, cars and trucks on the narrow, crowded road between the Namibian and Zambian border posts. There is no back and forth but pushing and shoving, and we have to wait, wait, wait…
After about three hours, we’ve overcome all obstacles and a few kilometers beyond the border we reach our first destination, the lively town of Sesheke.
Here we spend our first Zambian night. The next morning we go for a walk into town and explore the colorful market. At the roadside vegetables, fruits, chickens and fish are offered for sale. At the Airtel store, we get a new sim card and have fun with the children, who watch us curiously from outside, and then wave a merry laugh. As white tourists, we stand out like colored dogs.
LAND OF WATERFALLS
Zambia is rich in waterfalls, of which the Victoria Falls are by far the most famous. Our way leads us first to the Ngonye Falls near Sioma.
A special feature of this waterfall: The water of the Zambezi River flows not only on top of the rocks, but also through cavities inside the rocks. Due to the low water level in July, the rapids, holes and rocks are now particularly good to see.
During dry season beaches of white, fine sand appear everywhere along the banks of the Zambezi River. At the end of the rainy season in April the Zambezi River is carrying much more water. During peak periods the water level could be up to ten or eleven meters higher than it is now. In this case the sandbanks are invisible.
HOLES IN THE GROUND
From the Ngonye Falls we continue via Sesheke to Livingstone, to see the famous Victoria Falls. Several times we were warned about the wretched 195 kilometer long route between Sesheke and Livingstone. Officially, it is a tarred road which connects the border town with the next larger city Livingstone. In normal circumstances the drive can easily be managed within two and a half hours, but reality is cruel.
A few kilometers behind Sesheke the good tarred road turns into a rough track of tar, sand and deep potholes. Fortunately, there is only little traffic. Bicycles – a popular means of transportation in Zambia -, cars and trucks in both directions patiently circuit pothole by pothole. It takes us at least five (!) hours of inconvenient driving. The many settlements on the left and right of the street offer a welcome change.
At some point we also got this track behind us and arrive at our destination Livingstone according to plan before sunset.
THE SMOKE THAT THUNDERS
Finally, we can see and hear them ourselves, the vast Victoria Falls nestled between the border towns of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Livingstone in Zambia.
At a width of 1,708 meters, the Zambezi crashes 110 meters into the depths. In the Kololo language, the wide waterfall is called Mosi-oa-Tunya, the smoke that thunders, as the falling water causes much smoke-like spray. Because the Zambezi has little water in July, it smokes a little and we have a clear view of the impressive gorge. What a sight!
First we park our truck at the famous Avani Hotel. After our exploration of the waterfalls, we treat ourselves with a nice lunch there enjoying the sophisticated and relaxed atmosphere. As we walk back to our vehicle, we surprisingly land at a folklore event of the resort.
We are carried away by rhythmic drumming, traditional dances, garish costumes and impressive masks to a completely different world.
We take a look at African handicrafts, such as wood carvings and the typical pieces made of wire and glass bead. Moreover Win tries to learn playing the drums during a five-minutes-course.
Meanwhile I get provided with a highly efficacious remedy by the shaman.
SHAMAN WILL HELP YOU
A wide range of all kinds of remedies is spread out before me. The charming assistant of the medicine man offers me various herbs, for example in women’s diseases. Or, if my husband never wants to stay at home (apparently a global issue), there would be some interesting plant seeds. If I smoke them and say his name, he will stay at home for sure. That convinces me and for a few kwacha I contract with the shaman.
Only afterwards I realize that I can’t make a world trip with a husband, who always wants to stay at home. So I will pass the secret substance on to a woman who has serious needs. If interested, please mail to me!
The new carnets from Germany for our enduro and our truck are on the way to Lusaka. Because this can take a while, we plan a multi-day trip to Chirundu and the Lower Zambezi National Park before driving to Lusaka. We take our time and spend Sunday in the countryside near Chisekesi.
On the large farm grounds of the friendly Cornwall family, we find a beautiful place on a dam to stay for the night. We feel welcome and once again experience the endearing friendliness of the Zambians. Here we also meet Christina and her two daughters, who are fishing for small fish in the afternoon sun.
We enjoy the peaceful idyll, chat with the passing residents of the area and find it just beautiful. Tomorrow we want to continue to Chirundu, but today lounging is announced.
The cosiness ends jerkily the next morning. We are wonderfully rested, ready to go as planned and start driving with joy. After about fifty meters our ride ends with a jerk. We are stuck. Our rear tires are partially broken up to the axle through the rock-hard surface and sunk in tough clay.
Actually, we could have thought it. Two years ago, at the place where we are stuck now, the bank of the dam has been. In the meantime it has gone back considerably. We simply did not take that into account when choosing our track. Yesterday on arrival we apparently had taken the better way along the field.
So we have to get to the spades and make room for our sand sheets, which now come to use for the first time appropriate for their function. From the other side of the dam three men come along to offer support. After a while of digging, underlaying and stabilizing we finally manage to get out of the mud. Done!
Two hours later, our three helpers are happy to receive a fair contribution for their effort and we are happy to have our tires back on firm ground. Now let’s head to Chirundu!
EXCITING BACK ROAD
For our trip from Chesikesi to Chirundu we decide for the slower, but varied back road through the hilly hinterland.
On dusty dirt roads and well-maintained tarred roads we pass traditional settlements, village schools and waving men, women and children. When our eyes meet, they smile all over the face.
Cyclists are working their way up the street. Hard-working women carry heavy loads on their heads or their babies on their backs, often both at the same time. Sometimes we see them sitting on the ground with a hammer knocking larger stones to gravel for sale. Older and smaller children pump water from the well into buckets with all their might. Carefully laced sacks with charcoal on the roadside wait for customers or men and women for a lift.
It seems to us as if we flip through a large picture book marvelling at the many exciting impressions.
LET’S GO SAFARI
About 20 kilometers northeast of Chirundu Kafue River, which rises directly at the border to Congo and flows 950 kilometers south, issues into the Zambezi River. Before we visit the Lower Zambezi National Park, we have the nice opportunity to spend a few days at Kafue River.
Due to the fact that there are no options for camping in the national park, we decide to settle down near the Chongwe gate at the camp of the Mvuu Lodge. On our arrival we spot the hollow carcass of an elephant right next to the sand track. The vultures have occupied the carcass and now squabble among themselves, who gets the better place.
The dead elephant has been lying there for about a week, as Akim, our guide, tells us later. The pachyderm has probably died a natural death and not been killed by poachers. His tusks were still there when they found him.
A boat trip on the mighty Zambezi River and a full day game drive through the Lower Zambezi National Park give us a glimpse of Zambia in its most beautiful form.
Akim, our guide, tells us a lot of interesting things about the fauna and flora during our tours. We are thrilled with the variety of landscapes and rich wildlife.