A Travellerspoint blog

Zambia


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Soon after the chameleon rescue, we were quite surprised to find a nearly deserted Zambian immigration office. Passports were stamped very quickly and had no vehicle loop to clear so we were in a taxi on the way to our hotel in Siavonga within minutes.

Driving through town:

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After spending the last few nights in very basic accommodations, we felt like we had just arrived at the Ritz when we checked into Lake Kariba Inn.

Greg: enjoy this, it's our last comfortable night for a while.

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We decided to try our hand at fishing - how hard could it be?? Total tally: Issy - 30, Greg - 3 - some of us are just more gifted than others ;)

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Problem was, we kept catching babies, which made me feel very guilty about the whole thing. We immediately released them, of course, and I knew the ones we kept wouldn't go to waste but my conscience was having a serious meltdown. I even felt bad for the poor worms we used for bait, so I decided that fishing just wasn't for me.

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Captain showing us how it's done:

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The graveyard:

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More capenta fishing boats:

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Chilling on the hill leading up to the hotel:

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Greg: enjoy this, it's our last good meal for a while - famous last words.

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The next day (April 24th) marked the beginning of our journey through Zambia. We had a train to catch in Kapiri Mposhi on the 25th, about 200km North of the Capital, Lusaka. From what we had read online, Kapiri Mposhi is an important point in the regional freight network but is just a transit city with little in the way of hotels, points of interest or entertainment so we decided to spend the night in Lusaka and catch an early bus the next day which would get us to Kapiri at around 11am, 3 hours before our train's scheduled departure time. Perfect, easy peasy. We had 2 options to get from Siavonga to Lusaka: 3-hour bus ride for KW 110 (roughly US $18 for both of us) or private transportation which would take approximately 2 hours for US$90. We chose the bus. Problem was, it wasn't actually a bus, it was more like a minivan.

The van pulled in and it was already full, only enough space for half a bum cheek on the 1st row and another half a bum on the 2nd row. I took the first row, Greg sat behind me. I apologized to the passenger next to me and thanked the whole row when they squeezed even tighter to make room for my other cheek. We watched in disbelief as another passenger sat on a plastic bucket next to me and the assistant got in, stood half bent in front of Greg (he was practically sitting on his lap), closed the door and gave the driver the ok signal. The prospect of 3 hours in a sardine box with no air con and strong b.o. was slightly alarming but we figured this is what our fellow passengers had to deal with on a regular basis so we weren't about to start complaining. About 15min into our journey, we arrived at the first stop. And yes, hard to believe but they managed to squeeze yet another passenger in despite the cries of outrage: "no more! no more!". Safety was clearly the last thing on their mind, must maximize profits. They basically removed the safety bar behind the front bench and asked the new guy to sit on the tiny ledge behind the front passenger seat facing the bucket man, which then crammed the bucket against Greg's knee. Greg's legs were already dead from the awkward sitting position for the first 15min - 3hrs of this you say? How longs the walk?

Seating capacity including driver - 15. Actual load - 22 (not including kids and assistants sitting on laps).

See we weren't kidding about the bucket and the man on a ledge:

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Still the taxi driver was tooting through every town we passed to check if anyone else needed a ride - luckily no more takers. Greg was about to lose his composure when people started getting off at the following stop. By the time we arrived in Lusaka, Greg and I had the whole front row to ourselves. See that wasn't so bad??

We thought we would arrive at the Intercity Bus Terminal, just a few blocks from our backpacker's and where we would have to go the next day to catch our bus to Kapiri Mposhi, but instead we arrived at the City Market, probably the busiest and most chaotic place in town. Street vendors, food market, pedestians, cyclists, buses, cars, motorcycles, and carts everywhere you looked. Somehow, our driver managed to weave through the chaos without hurting anyone and stopped in what looked like a bus station but I can't say for sure. The assistant was kind enough to find us a taxi and we were soon on our way to Flinstone Backpackers. It turned out to be a bit of a dump in a dark alley but it would have to do for the night. We spotted a mall on the main road just a couple of blocks from the hostel and headed straight for it within minutes. We bought food for the 50-hour train ride to Dar Es Salaam, had dinner at a very nice Indian restaurant inside the mall and called it a night. We tried to banish thoughts of another 3-hour ride in a sardine can and prayed for a seat on an actual bus. We thanked our lucky stars when we were comfortably seated in the big bus by 7am the next day, nevermind the 45 min delay.

Taxi drivers were litteraly fighting for our fare to New Kapiri Mposhi train station only 2km away from the bus terminal. Taken from the cab as we pulled away from the terminal:

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Deserted train station.....hmmmmm......

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Nobody at the ticket counter or sales office so we asked a gentleman in uniform:

"Sir, where do we buy tickets for the Tazara?"
"is closed"
"what time will it open?"
"not today, tomorrow"
"........." (Greg and I looking very confused)
"bbbbut the train to Dar....is it not leaving today at 2pm?"
"is delayed, arrive at 19, engine problems"
At this stage we were relieved to hear there would even be a train and we had read all about the very long delays so all seemed normal until he said:
"train leave tomorrow at 2pm"
Wow, 24-hour delay!
"wait here, somebody will come"

Who? when? We sat down in the empty waiting area to regroup but our minds were just blank. Luckily somebody did come and opened the ticket office counter. She confirmed what the security guard had said and told us we wouldn't be able to buy tickets until the next day. From what I had read online, it was highly recommended to buy a whole 1st class cabin (4 tickets) so the sooner we secured them, the better. Luckily we were able to reserve the tickets and since the lady seemed very nice and willing to help, I asked her for hotel and restaurant recommendations. She only had a couple of places to suggest so off we went, back to the city. The Novotel was in a quiet area away from the main street and our suite was clean and spacious with separate kitchenette and living area. Good! We would be spending a lot of time there so any extra space was very welcome.

Exploring Kapiri:

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Jupter, the only decent restaurant in town and where we had lunch, dinner and lunch again the following day, consisting of meat pies and samosas:

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Our quick tour of Kapiri revealed that there is, in fact, absolutely nothing to do there and it seemed our hotel was the best in town so we were back in our suite by 2pm.

People watching from our balcony:

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The next day couldn't come fast enough but time eventually came to go back to the train station. Tickets in hand, we could finally relax and hope there wouldn't be another delay.

The station:

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48 hours after leaving Siavonga in the sardine can, we were finally aboard the Tazara and in 50 hours, we would be in Dar Es Salaam, or so the schedule said...

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In hindsight, we probably should have taken the express train which leaves Kapiri on Tuesdays instead of the ordinary which leaves on Fridays (or Saturdays depending on the delays). Friday worked with our itineray and it seemed worthwhile at the time seeing as it was only supposed to take an extra 4 hours. It was closer to 15 hours in addition to the original 24-hour delay! One has to wonder why they haven't updated the schedule because it is highly unlikely that it has ever made the journey in 50 hours. That being said, it was a memorable journey through the Zambian and Tanzanian countrysides. Kindles and cards kept us entertained and we saw many beautiful places and people along the way:

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In the spirit of full disclosure, we feel we must also mention a few of the "quirks" in case you decide to take the Tazara one day. Toilets are basically a hole in the ground (1 per car or 30-35 people) and although they are cleaned everyday, try aiming in a moving train car that feels it's about to derail at any moment with the occasional hard hit on the breaks that sends you flying against the cabin wall. Needless to say, we did not look forward to bathroom breaks and had to mentally prepare for them. We felt victorious if we returned to our cabin unharmed. There was also a small insect problem in our cabin which we discovered when a few miniature cockroaches came out of their hinding place to look for leftovers. A closer inspection revealed there were plenty of these bugs hiding between the table and where it was attached to the wall underneath the window sill so we had no choice but to blast them with our only weapon: mosquito repellent. We took advantage of their panicked escape attempt to crush as many as we could before they found a new home (probably under our pillows). I was now constantly inspecting our cabin for the ones that got away and felt I wouldn't be able sleep knowing they were out there! Luckily I love my sleep and only worried about it for about 2 min before passing out. Not for long mind you because the sudden hit on the breaks continued through the night and were it not for the safety railing on the side of the bed, Greg would have been ejected many a times. I simply hit my head against the cabin wall a few times. One stop in the middle of the night had us thinking we had just been boarded by outlaws and would soon be separated from all of our valuables. It turns out it was just some passengers who hadn't checked their tickets properly and kept trying to open our cabin by mistake, or that's what we keep telling ourselves. Once awake, it was hard not to feel slightly panicked by the violent side to side shaking made worse by the fact that we seemed to have gained considerable speed during the night. "Please stay on the rails, please stay on the rails" is all I kept thinking until the following stop, which was usually long enough for me to fall asleep again. And so it went until morning.

Filling up on rice crackers and tuna:

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Hoping to hang on for the night:

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By the third day, we had made friends with a couple from Denmark and arranged to catch a cab together to our hotel in Dar. That was before we realized it wouldn't be necessary because we would be spending another night on the train. We arrived at 7am the next day, 65 hours after our departure from Kapiri.

We are now in Kigali and will post an update on our Tanzania and Rwanda experiences as soon as we can. We fly to Addis Ababa tomorrow (May 9th).

Greg and Issy

Posted by gregandissy 12:41 Archived in Zambia Comments (1)

Livingstone, Zambia & Zimbabwe


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The day after our river cruise on the Chobe River we decided to travel to Livingstone for the day to see Victoria Falls from the Zambian side. We were returning the car in Kasane at 4pm so we left early to make sure we had plenty of time to see the falls only 75km away. Turns out we were cutting it close once the Botswana-Zambia border crossing was factored in. First we had to cross the Zambezi river on a ferry - well a floating platform is probably a more accurate description - which could only fit two vehicles and a truck. Luckily the line for the cars was short and we got on the first ferry but I felt for the truck drivers. Their line must have been 1km long, at least, and only 1 truck could cross at a time. We chatted to the truck driver we shared the platform with and he said he had been queuing for 2 days! Apparently there's been "talk" of a bridge, which sadly means it won't happen for years. The ferry was fighting a very strong current and even though we only had to travel 400m, we wondered if we would even make it. Somehow, we managed to safely dock on the other side and we were definitely not prepared for the chaos that followed.

This picture doesn't do the queue justice:
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The floating platform:
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First, the hagglers saw us tourists coming a mile away and swormed us as soon as we got off the ferry. There was no clear indication of where to go, cars and trucks were parked everywhere, but we needed to let our Zambian "friends" know we didn't need any help so we went the opposite direction to where they were pointing. That'll show them! Of course, that only encouraged them more and we now had twice as many around us. Avoiding eye contact, we made our way to immigration. There was no queue so our passports were stamped quickly. Yes, this is easy! I shot them a disapproving look for good measure. If only that would have been the end of the process. We now had to clear the vehicle. Our friends were telling us to go behind the customs counter for the vehicle but the immigration lady said to go to the customs window. Hmmm, what to do?? If we followed our friends did that mean we were accepting their help? Crap, we felt so unprepared! We realized the counter we were standing in front of was for declaration of goods so we proceeded to the vehicle clearance counter still ignoring our friends who were relentless. "We don't need any help" "Come, come, we are a peaceful nation". I didn't see how we were going to shake them off. We showed the officer all the paperwork, he took his time and eventually stamped a document. Woohoo, we'll be out of here in no time. Then he announced: "now you must pay". The tone suggested it was not going to be pleasant. He proceeded to list the fees: Kwacha 150 (approx US$25) Carbon Tax, US20 Toll Fee, KW20 Council Levy, KW115 Third Party Insurance (mandatory regardless). For a day trip, this was turning out to be a bit of a nightmare and certainly more expensive than expected. "Ok, where do we pay?" "The carbon tax you pay right here" and he pointed to a counter behind us, "the rest you must pay separately". Right, of course, paying them all at the same time would have been too simple. So we paid the carbon tax and the lady said: "ok so now you must pay the council levy in that building over there (where??), then the toll fee in US dolla only, behind there (where??) and then the insurance". Outside, it was a zoo and we had no idea where these government buildings were. We finally gave into our friends offer to "help" and followed them to the various offices. Finally the insurance had to be paid outside the gate so we went to collect the car and sure enough, it had been washed by the guy "looking after it" and he wanted to charge us KW100. Our mood was quickly turning sour. We gave him KW40 which we knew was too much but wanted to avoid more hassles. Turns out there were a few competing insurance companies and our friends worked for one of them. Of course they did. We paid KW115 and asked: "so are we done now?" to which they answered: "yes boss, done, now just the service charge." Greg and I looked at each other knowing we had reached the end of our rope - stay calm - "How much?" "Pulah 400" - Botswana currency equivalent to roughly US50 - "No ways" "ok, P300" "We'll give you P200 and we're done". We got in the car and drove away. Total damage including the round trip ferry crossing: US170. Wholly molly, we were not expecting that, specially after having spent the last 10 days in Namibia and Botswana virtually hassle free. Right, I kept telling myself this is all part of the adventure and I'm sure the first of many similar situations we were going to face on this trip. I tried to convince Greg it was all part of the journey and that we had learnt a valuable lesson. He was having none of it. Marie, my traveling companion in Morocco a few years ago and who knows me all too well, is probably laughing and thinking "Isa, I can't believe you fell for it again!!!". Yes yes, I know ;) We eventually shook it off and focused on Vic Falls which were simply amazing. Unfortunately our timing wasn't great because the water levels were too high for us to enjoy some of the rapids, which we had heard were among the best in the world. White water rafting would have to wait.

We were clearly tresspassing as far as these guys were concerned:
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Finally, what we had been waiting all morning to see:
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The bridge we were about to cross:
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Rain gear on? Check!
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Yeah...might as well have worn our bathing suits:
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The famous Victoria Falls Bridge connecting Zambia (on the left) and Zimbabwe (on the right). If you can zoom in, you may also be able to see the Vic Falls Hotel in the background (white structure with the red roof):
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We followed the trail down to the Boiling Pot:
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Unfortunately not clear on this picture but there were many natural (and massive) whirpools just behind me - not even the crocs hang around these parts for fallen tourists!
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On our way back to the border we stopped for a quick up-stream shot of the falls:
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Feeling reenergized, we felt ready to face the border again. Luckily, we only had to pay the exit council levy fee of KW20 and they left us alone. We were on the home stretch but one more misfortune awaited. Greg forgot his GoPro in the car and didn't realize until the guys that picked it up had been gone for 2 hrs. Nothing we could do except wait to hear back from them. We spent our last night in Botswana at the Old House, the lovely lodge on the Chobe River we had booked the sunset cruise with and enjoyed a much needed bottle of wine. What a day!

Patiently (read desperately) waiting to get on the ferry back to Botswana:
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Our transfer to Zimbabwe left at 10:30am the next day and we were at Victoria Falls Backpacker's by 12:30pm.

On the way to Zim:
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Our friendly host, Dennis, was very helpful and basically organized our entire stay. He also shared some personal stories about the hardships they faced in Zim in the 90's and how they are slowly rebuilding after having lost almost everything. It was sad, enfuriating, inspiring and fascinating, all at the same time.

We took a helicopter tour over the falls which gave us a great perspective of the falls and the Zambezi.

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I was riding shotgun while Greg was taking selfies in economy class behind:
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Approaching the falls - you can see 6 of the 8 fault lines representing the current and previous locations of the Falls:
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The mighty Zambezi:
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We spotted some giraffes on the way back to the base - have you ever seen one drinking water?
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We then went to the famous Victoria Falls Hotel for a drink before another very relaxing sunset cruise on the Zambezi.

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The VFH High Tea is so popular, even the warthogs make a celebrity appearance:
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The well-stocked sunset cruise bar:
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First in line, of course - the Safas will immediately understand if they look closely at the selection (hint: 6th bottle from the left):
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You can take a boy out of Rhodes.....
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Like a kid in a candy store:
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So...what happens if the engine fails???
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Sunset cruise Vic Falls style:
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Back at the hostel, Greg challenged me to a game of chess. Epic match, only 5 pieces left on the board but yours truly eventually prevailed. Grumpy Greg went to bed.

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Setting up the board. Greg: I think she rigged it based on the smirk on her face.
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We toured the Falls the next day and felt we had the whole place to ourselves! I'm starting to see what all this early morning fuss is about ;) Well, for now at least.

Devil's Cataract - experts predict this will be the location of the next fault:
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Where's Bambi?
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The spray produced by the massive sheet of water falling is mesmerizing - must....get....
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...closer...
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We really wanted to cross the bridge and luckily we were able to do so without having to go through Zambian immigration (again):
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Greg stopped for a quick peanut butter snack. Oh...wait....
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By lunchtime, we were in a minivan with 4 belgian chicks from the backpackers and headed to Mlibizi, on the Western side of Lake Kariba. We were all catching the ferry across the lake early the next day so it made sense to spend the night in Mlibizi. Other than the ferry and fishing, not much really goes on in Mlibizi.

Always reassuring, the Croc warning sign:
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The town's only supermarket and liquor store:
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Our resort did not offer any food so organized for us to have a dinner and breakfast at Don and Rose's place (basically their home). We weren't quite sure what to expect but were instantly charmed by their warm and friendly welcome. They are retired and supplement their pension by helping the resort in this way. The meal was absolutely fantastic: Don's freshly caught bream cooked to perfection by Rose. What an amazing evening in the most unexpected place.

The view from Don & Rose's place:
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Greg was craving the steak and got a generous portion to satisfy him - the crazy eyes say it all:
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Breakfast was just as pleasant and when the time came, Don gave us a lift to the Ferry - the Sea Lion. This would be home for the next 22 hours, which I must admit, I was very excited about, although Greg had told me there were no beds. "Impossible! we're spending the night on the ferry, surely there must be some type of arrangement" and luckily there was. The chairs were collapsible and in fact quite comfortable. Although that could be the wine talking. We met Cleo and Louis from the UK (Louis actually lives in Malawi) who were cycling around Zimbabwe - yes cycling! - and were having an amazing time. We also met Craig from South Africa and Neele from Germany, a couple traveling through Southern Africa on a motorcyle (BMW f650gs for those interested - Greg). We instantly liked them all and spent the rest of the evening chatting, drinking and playing games - lie dice for those of you who know it. It was Louis' birthday the next day so one bottle of wine quickly turned into many more until we ran out.

Loading the beast:
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Our "suite":
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Our fellow shipmates:
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So...what happens if the engine fails???
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Reassured we were in good hands, Greg was finally able to relax:
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Capenta fishing boats - they attract the fish (millions, about 5 to 10cm long) with light and at night it looks like city lights on the horizon because they are so many in the water. It's a big industry on lake Kariba.
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Louis' birthday candle - Craig and Neele leading the happy birthday cheer:
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Cleo and Louis - his surprised act was very good considering he had spent the whole day telling every passenger on board (including the baby twins) that it was his birthday the next day ;)
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Clockwise from the left: Mlibizi Departure, Sunset, Sunrise, Kariba Town Arrival:
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We arrived in Kariba town at 7am the next day and agreed with Cleo and Louis that a good coffee was in order. Craig and Neele had a long journey ahead of them so we said goobye to the cool couple and managed to find a great little cafe with a beautiful view of the lake. Coffee never tasted that good! - only instant coffee was available on the boat. Greg and I had all day to get to Siavonga, on the Zambian side of the lake, but Louis and Cleo had flights to catch from Lusaka the next day and needed to get there before nightfall. We hope they made it to their destinations safely and hope to see them again soon.

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Safe travels Belgian chicks:
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The fashion forward cyclists:
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The four of us had just hiked/cycled up a fairly big hill, we were hungover, dehydrated and already breaking a sweat when these kids casually rolled in for fairwells on their way to the border - space on there for 2 more?
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We walked/hitchhiked to Kariba Dam, walked the 4km down to the Dam Wall (which is apparently cracking so of course Greg did his best to psych me out) and up to the Zambian border.

Capenta farm along the way where they sort through the previous nights catch:
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The Kariba Dam:
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Quick Issy, you must hurry! The whole thing could collapse at any moment!
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Hard to believe, but there's a chameleon somewhere in this photo! Usually renowned for their camouflauge.
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We figured the poor fella was suffering from heatstroke and gently helped him across the road to the safety of the shaded grass and more natural surroundings.
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Next update on our Zambian adventure coming soon. We are now in Zanzibar (a bit short lived because of train delays - details to follow) and flying to Arusha later this morning (May 1st).

Greg and Issy

Posted by gregandissy 21:56 Archived in Zimbabwe Comments (6)

Botswana


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As soon as we got into the bush, potentially with wild animals around, "we" became slightly paranoid. Greg just kept poking fun at my "I-will-not-stray-more-than-5m-from the vehicle" attitude. That is until he got a bit of a fright of his own. En route to Botswana we decided to drive through Windhoek and spend the night in a lodge along the way. We ended up at the Airport Lodge in a rural area about 20km outside the city. Our "chalet" was at the far end of the property and seemed very secluded and remote, considering we arrived in the dark at about 8pm. To make matters worse, there was a steel "trelli" door to protect the main wooden door - from what I asked? We quickly unloaded what we needed for the night and locked ourselves in. "Oh no! we forgot the wine!" 8pm and locked up in a remote chalet, we needed wine! Greg, who is much braver than I, decided to risk his life for this good cause. 10 seconds in, I heard some scrambling and Greg ran back inside panting: "I heard a bell and like a grunting noise but couldnt see anything". We locked up, went to bed at 8:30pm, and I just stared at the ceiling listening for a sound that would reveal the identity of our predator before finally falling asleep after about an hour. Locals would probably double over with laughter at our pathetic display and tell us it was just a cow.

The view from our chalet early the next day - no sign of our cow:

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On the way to Maun:

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We arrived in Maun just before 6pm. Big thanks to Chris and Vanessa Rose and Stuart Paxton for letting us into their beautiful home!

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We headed to town early the next day to organize our trips to Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park and ended up booking a scenic flight over Moremi to see what we were in for. Absolutely gorgeous area. We were quite excited but also a bit worried about all the water! Some of the passages looked like they could only be crossed by boat....oh well, we would have to see how far our snorkeless Toyota would take us.

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Our bookings for Xakanaxa Campsite in Moremi (in Ndebele, the x is pronounced with a tongue click - we embarrassed ourselves trying) and Savuti Campsite in Chobe paid for, we headed for Xakanaxa.

The massive map I was trying to flip! - Mel & Marie: look familiar?

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On the way:

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We arrived just before sundown and found a massive elephant leisurely eating marula fruit under a tree in the first campsite. Luckily our campsite was about 150m further and no marula trees to attract him! After a quick dinner - I had done some research prior to the trip and insisted all traces of food be cleaned and put away soon after sundown - we enjoyed some wine by the fire with 2 fellow travellers we ended up sharing the campsite with (Bryce & Gale). They were clearly not as concerned about the wildlife as I was and took their time making dinner and setting up for the night - had they not done their research?! Per google, campers are advised to get into their tents not long after sundown and google is never wrong, right? So I rushed a reluctant Greg into the tent at 8pm. Early morning game drive so it was just as well. Greg woke up a few hours later to a loud cracking sound and Gale calling to Bryce "an elephant, its on our car". I woke up only to hear Gale calling Bryce's name quite loudly to which he responded: "it's trying to get the citrus". Luckily I didn't really register what was going on, and fell back into a deep sleep. Greg giggled because he knew I would have freaked out if I had realized an elephant was trying to get into the car parked just 10m from ours!!!! Luckily, the elephant gave up his break-in attempt after hearing the shouting and just went on his way.

Our campsite:

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So as planned, we were up just before sunrise for our morning drive and it was everything we had hoped for. We followed one of the safari vehicles from the lodge nearby because surely the guide knew his way around and our map was crap. He did not disappoint!! Although he did manage to get stuck in the mud within the first few hundred meters and had to be towed out. Greg was eager to test the 4x4 so was quite excited to attempt the rescue. Unfortunately he forgot to activate to diff-lock (something to do with the 4x4) so we had to wait for another safari vehicle to pull him out. All very exciting and adventurous...for 2 city kids.

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and the grand prize, these two magnificent creatures:

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On the way back to camp for lunch, we saw a pack of wild dogs hanging out close to another campsite's gate:

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Filled with confidence from our morning drive, we attempted the afternoon drive on our own. We were very happy to find this lazy thing taking an extended nap:

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And so came time to set up for our second night in Xakanaka. Needless to say that after hearing a detailed account of the elephant visit, I did not sleep as soundly. I spent most of the night listening to every sound and imagining a gigantic elephant just next to our car every time the grass was crushed under a footstep. I eventully fell asleep and woke up very relieved we had survived another night. Greg laughed - somehow, I don't think he understood the seriousness of the situation! He was a good sport though, and indulged my panicked requests to pack up quickly and hold it until morning once we were in the tent.

We decided to go for a quick game drive early the next morning before driving to Chobe and were glad we did. We saw 2 Leopards stalking some impala on the runway next to the camp gate. They're amazing!

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Greg's driving skills were tested on the way to Savuti and he passed with flying colors getting us us there in record time which allowed some time for an afternoon game drive.

Our Savuti Campsite welcoming committee:

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We saw plenty of elephant, zebra and buck but missed the lions by just a few minutes.

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Luckily, just as we were driving back to the camp, one of the safari vehicle drivers told us there was a leopard on a tree just a few meters further. This was our leopard day! We were not allowed to drive off road so we struggled to get a good view but managed a few long distance shots:

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Last camping night - staying as close to the vehicle as possible!!!

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No visitors that night that I am aware of, which I confirmed the next morning by checking our campsite for footprints - I just couldn't help myself! Although there did appear to be big cat like paw prints leading towards the bathrooms so I had to become one with nature...

Saying goodbye to Savuti:

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Off to Kasane we went and I'm happy to report our 4x4 made it in one piece - just a small crack in the windshield and a lot of sand everywhere.

Found these guys just playing and chilling in the middle of the road - they found us quite interesting:

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Adjusting tire pressure for the tar road to Kasane:

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Huge thanks once again to Chris and Vanessa and the Paxtons for making another beautiful home available to us in Kasane. What a view!!

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We booked a sunset cruise on the Chobe River and could not have been more pleased. We saw a lot of wildlife and the sunset was simply stunning.

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Interesting specimen but not indigenous to the area ;)

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Fancy a swim?

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Can you guess what this is? Just an elephant out for a swim in the reeds in the middle of the river!

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More amazing animals just on the edge of the river:

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Happy hour boat Botswana style:

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A sunset to rival Cayman's

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Next update on Vic Falls and our brief Zimbabwe tour coming soon. We are now in Siavonga, on the eastern side of lake Kariba. Tomorrow (April 24th) we will make our way to Lusaka and then Kapiri Mposhi to catch the Tazara train on the 25th to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania.

Greg and Issy

Posted by gregandissy 10:27 Archived in Botswana Comments (5)

Namibia


View Route Map on gregandissy's travel map.

After collecting our 4x4 Toyota Hilux and loading it with supplies, food, Savanna's (SA cider) and wine - oh and water - we headed North to Vioolsdrif, on the SA side of the border. 682km and 8hrs later, we arrived at Fiddler's Creek, our first campsite on the banks of the Orange River. Greg had been there a few years ago with some friends and incredibly, found the engraved paddle they left behind stapled to the bar's ceiling! And yes, the other item in the picture is a speedo that belonged to one of the boys (minus the spider webs). Greg wouldn't reveal the owner's identity so I conclude it was his. We really enjoyed our first night of camping despite the mosquitos that found a way into our tent through a gap between the main joints. Only took 2 hrs of buzzing and a million itchy welts for us to catch on - I guess all I can say is that I hope we are a bit quicker in Botswana amongst the lions and hyenas!

On our way to the Namibia border

On our way to the Namibia border

Fiddler's Creek - our first campsite

Fiddler's Creek - our first campsite

DSC00884.jpgLooking for some memorabilia

Looking for some memorabilia

Found it!

Found it!

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The next day, we continued North to Hobas, near Fish River Canyon, the largest in Africa. Absolutely breathtaking! We tested our 4x4 on some rocky roads to get to other viewpoints along the Canyon's edge and were glad we did for the Springbok, Ostriches, Zebras and Kudu we sighted along the way.

On our way to Fish River Canyon

On our way to Fish River Canyon

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After a good night's sleep, we took another peek at the Canyon just after sunrise - to the many arching eyebrows: yes , I was up before sunrise - before our long and scenic drive to Sesriem, on the edge of Sossuvlei known for its tall sand dunes. Absolutely amazing and humbling scenery.

On our way to Sesriem

On our way to Sesriem

DSC00960.jpgFinally a gas station!

Finally a gas station!

Our first dune hike

Our first dune hike

DSC00986.jpgDSC00988.jpgDesert fox on the way to the Dunes

Desert fox on the way to the Dunes

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Deadvlei

A whole bunch of dead trees...

A whole bunch of dead trees...

DSC01035.jpgDSC01053.jpgDSC01051.jpgGreg decided to tackle Bid Daddy the unconventional way - ie the steep front generally used by those coming DOWN!

Greg decided to tackle Bid Daddy the unconventional way - ie the steep front generally used by those coming DOWN!

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Next stop: Swakopmund. Another long and scenic drive through a few mountain passes got us to the coast for more sand dune adventures but first, a quick pit stop in Walvis Bay for lunch.

On our way to Walvis Bay

On our way to Walvis Bay

DSC01098_2..15104549191.jpgPink flamingos of Walvis Bay

Pink flamingos of Walvis Bay

DSC01106.jpgDSC01120.jpgDelicious grilled calamari and oysters

Delicious grilled calamari and oysters

DSC01126_2..15104816378.jpgSwakopmund beach

Swakopmund beach

Gearing up for some sandboarding

Gearing up for some sandboarding

GOPR1799.jpg9B482C972219AC68177F55698282086D.jpg9B4E755B2219AC68170001A18A34579C.jpgDebriefing the experts

Debriefing the experts

Beginners: don't go straight down, aim for the side of dune - roger that!

Beginners: don't go straight down, aim for the side of dune - roger that!

_18_.jpg_26_.jpgIssy's first jump....

Issy's first jump....

....and crash - Greg: a face plant would have looked better on camera

....and crash - Greg: a face plant would have looked better on camera

Whatever

Whatever

_42_.jpg_40_.jpg_54_.jpgOur furry companion on the dunes - we miss Bella!!

Our furry companion on the dunes - we miss Bella!!

We decided to hit the road again after only one night in Swakop to try and make more time available for Botswana. We stopped near Windhoek for the night and headed for the Botswana border a day earlier than planned on the 14th.

We traveled through Botswana and arrived this morning in Kasane near Victoria Falls. Internet access is proving to be quite difficult but will report on our Botswana adventures as soon as we can.

Greg and Issy

Posted by gregandissy 12:28 Archived in Namibia Comments (5)

PE & Western Cape


View Route Map on gregandissy's travel map.

A few highlights of our road trip with Keith and Bev Meaker:

1- Port Elizabeth - an opportunity to spend time with the Meaker clan, catch up with good friends in nearby Port Alfred and take a trip down memory lane in Grahamstown - home to Rhodes University.

With the Petyts in Port Alfred

With the Petyts in Port Alfred

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2- Knysna - a magical place on the garden route between PE and Cape Town. Loved relaxing there with Bev, Keith and Bunty (Greg's gran).

DSC00488.jpgDSC00569.jpgDSC00512.jpgWith Bunty and Bev

With Bunty and Bev

DSC00553.jpgBiltong and Red Wine = Heaven

Biltong and Red Wine = Heaven

3- Cape Town - Bev 60th celebrations with the Vogel clan, an unforgetable sailing experience and some last minute purchases for our 10-day 4x4 road trip across Namibia and Botswana. Thanks to Keith, Bev, Rob, Tracy, Wendy, Bernie, Amber and Bunty for spoiling us and making our stay in Cape Town so special.

Llandudno beach

Llandudno beach

With Andy, Rob and Wendy

With Andy, Rob and Wendy

DSC00735.jpgDSC00715.jpgSeals cooling off in Cape Town harbour

Seals cooling off in Cape Town harbour

Royal Cape Yacht Club

Royal Cape Yacht Club

Hout Bay market

Hout Bay market

DSC00611.jpgDinner at DeGrendel winery for Bev's birthday

Dinner at DeGrendel winery for Bev's birthday

Family pic outside DeGrendel winery, view not too shabby

Family pic outside DeGrendel winery, view not too shabby

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Picked up our 4x4 near Cape Town airport on April 8th, loaded our supplies and headed North to Namibia where the adventure really began.

4x4 loaded and ready

4x4 loaded and ready

We are in Swakopmund today, April 12th and heading to Botswana on the 14th. We will try to report on our Namibia experience soon.

Greg and Issy

Posted by gregandissy 08:08 Archived in South Africa Comments (2)

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