Tuesday 30 April – An early start was required to get in line for the Kazangula ferry/border crossing over the Zambezi/Chobe River into Zambia. There were 43 trucks waiting their turn but fortunately we did not have to get stuck behind them – what a relief that was. Apparently it takes up to 2 days for the trucks to get across.
Once we were in Zambia, we met up with Alex’s money-changer. Armed with Zambian Kwacha, we pressed on to Victoria Falls on the Livingstone side. As we arrived at the entrance gate to the Falls, we were greeted by a troupe of huge, over-zealous baboons who, having spied the large pocket of cooking onions on the roof of Alex’s car, decided to relieve him of his load. They made off with them into the bushes closely followed by several equally over-zealous security guards who knew that, if the onions were returned to their rightful owner, they would be in for a sizeable reward!! The upshot was 1-0 to the security guards and the precious onions were returned in one piece.
It was our first time on the Zambian side of the Falls and, as ever, they did not fail to impress. We did, however, show our age this time and unlike in the past when it was great fun to get absolutely drenched to the bone, we decided to skirt round that rather dubiously entertaining part of the walk.
Later that morning we left for Lusaka, travelling through many African villages on the way. There were live chickens and guinea fowl for sale along the road.
One of these villages was called Choma. This was where Dr Livingstone had apparently died. Alex told us the story of how Livingstone’s friends, Suzie and Choma, removed Livingstone’s innards and buried them under a tree before deciding to take the rest of his mummified body back to UK. They carried him 1000Km to Bagamoyo where the body was then put on a ship bound for UK via Zanzibar. His final resting place is in Westminster Abbey and most people say that even though his body is there, his heart is still in Africa. Another story that goes around is that apparently, when the body was received in the UK, the undertaker said the now immortal words “Dr Livingstone I presume”! I always wondered how that came about…
We experienced our first brunch by the side of the road when Alex cooked up some tasty fried fish. It was becoming really interesting as to what our menu would be each day. That night we were back to camping and stayed at “The Moorings” at Monze, a great stopover between Lusaka and Livingstone. Set under the trees on grass it was one of the better sites, although, by this time the mosquitoes had discovered this rather juicy specimen from Cape Town and I was already looking like a child’s “join the dots” page in their first colouring book!
Wednesday 1 May – After a wonderful cooked breakfast which made up for my tantrum at getting up late and being behind everyone else – it was by now becoming a bit of a competition as to who was to be ready first – we set off through more African villages towards Lusaka.
We were amused at the names of the shops along the road side – “Gracious Butchery”, “Coming Soon Investments” – these people certainly seemed to have a sense of humour. There were also a lot of empty or half built houses by the side of the road. Alex explained that often when someone is diagnosed with HIV in the city, he decides to build himself a house to return to when it is time to die. Unfortunately sometimes they run out of time and the house is left half-finished as the owner didn’t make it home.
Lusaka is quite a vibrant city and this is where we filled up with petrol and happened upon some very tasty doughnuts for lunch. This was to become a competition during the trip about who could find the best doughnuts for sale and how many could be consumed!
Later on in the day we passed 2 ancient steam engines resting in a siding near the road at Kabwe. Apparently, they were owned by the MD of Vodacom SA and had been there for some time waiting to be transported. More than likely they are still there even now.
Although Alex was carrying a big chest deepfreeze which contained all the meat we would need for the trip, fresh fruit and vegetables needed to be purchased periodically. These he obtained from the many sellers along the road in various small villages and spent some time haggling for the best price and quality.
We also came across honey sellers who collected honey from the bees that were attracted to the beautiful yellow flowers which were in abundance in this area.
At 4pm we arrived at the Forest Inn at Kapiri Mposhi. A nice grassed campsite within 160 hectares of indigenous forest, it boasted a thatched boma that actually had chairs and tables and electricity! We took the opportunity of charging all our equipment and settled down to some huge t-bone steaks for supper. The campsite boasted hot showers – yippee – but the downside was that there was a leak in the ladies block which left the floor swimming in water. We were to come to realise on this trip that if something is broken, it very rarely gets fixed and you just have to make a plan!!
Thursday 2 May – Early start today as we had a long drive ahead of us. We feasted on huge watermelons at breakfast which were purchased on the side of the road the day before. It was on this leg of our journey that we started to see big stacks of charcoal for sale at the side of the road. The charcoal was made by the local villagers and it would be something we would see many a time during our journey north.
Another sight which we would become used to on our journey was the many broken down trucks and trucks that had been involved in some sort of accident and were now lying upside down in the ditches. As a warning to approaching traffic, the drivers would place big branches along the road at either side of the trucks. There must have been a booming trade in scrap metal merchants. Most of the trucks though, had already been stripped bare of any movable parts.
After a delightful tea break in a lay by we arrived at 2.30pm at Kapishya Hot Springs Lodge camp site where we were staying for 2 nights. This was a real treat as moving every day was quite a task, especially for people in their “senior” years!
Once set up we made our way to the hot springs – what a treat. They were situated in an inlet off the main river and were so hot it was just like getting into a bath.
The lodge itself was quite luxurious and actually had TV so the boys were thoroughly spoilt watching rugby for the first time in nearly a week – you’d think they had been in the desert for six months! That evening we had a wonderful beef curry which I have a sneaking suspicion was brought about by my husband’s not too subtle hints that he loves Indian fare!! Later that night most of the party went for a lovely hot shower – the water was heated by a “donkey boiler” which is a fire which warms up the water before it is piped into the showers.
Friday 3 May - I decided to wait until the next morning for my hot shower treat, but got a rude awakening the next day when I stood in the shower and absolutely nothing came out of the shower nozzle!! Apparently a water pipe had burst in the night so no shower at all. So, armed with my soap, shampoo and face flannel, off I went to the lower catchment hot spring which flowed out into the main river and had the most glorious bath and hair wash I have ever had. Staying for 2 nights gave us time to catch up on our laundry so once the water pipe was fixed my tent was surrounded with wash lines full of our smalls – a sight which would become all too familiar during our 35 day trek.
Having done all my chores, I rewarded myself with a full body massage at the spa which was attached to the lodge. What a treat! I did though have a sneaking suspicion that the body oils were actually cooking oils as they didn’t have much aroma!! Ah well, that’s Africa.
Next up – Tanzania, a 12 hr drive, rain and finally Mt Kilimanjaro