Livingstone (Victoria Falls), Lochinvar National Park, Kafue National Park, Lusaka, Lake Kariba (Siavonga), Lower Zambezi, Lusaka, Kasane National Park, Kapishya Hotsprings, South Luangwa, Chipata.
Zambia is a former British colony and gained independence 52 years ago. After gaining independence the name was changed from Northern Rhodesia to Zambia and inherited a British style political multiparty political system. The first elections were held in 1964. Kaunda became the first president of Zambia, but as he disliked opposition he disbanded all but his own political party in 1972 and he remained in power for the next 27 years. His rule was based on ‘humanism’ his own mixture of Marxism and African values, most private companies were nationalised, but corruption, mismanagement and fall of the world copper prices, doomed Zambia to become one of the poorest countries in Africa. During the late 1980’s a wind of changes blowing through Africa combined with Zambia’s disastrous domestic situation something had to give. After violent street protests against yet again a significant increase in food process, these protest led to a more general protest to bring back the multiparty system and Kaunda was forced to accede to public opinion. He was forced to legalize opposition parties and a full election was held in 1991, which was won by the opposition. A Former trade union leader named Chiluba become the second president and after one term Zambia was not recovered form it’s poor economical position, meaning Kaunda could work his way back into politics. Chiluba feared he might loos the upcoming election and quickly passed a law stating no one could become president if his parents were not born in Zambia, as Kaunda parents were from Malawi. Even though it is allegedly stated that Chiluba’s parents were born in the Republic of Congo. As form of protest Kaunda party withdrew all candidates and this led to an easy win for Chiluba. After two terms in 2001 Chiluba was determined to run for a third terms, but was unable to change the constitution. His vice president succeeded him and there have been elections every five years and only two term presidents since the beginning of this millennium. In the last decade health care has become more and more affordable and available for people, even in remote places and most general stores have a basic, but good supply of groceries. It will take a long time for Zambia to fully recover, but every year it seems to get a little better.
Border crossing and Livingstone (Victoria Falls)
Crossing the border
On October 11 we crossed the border from Kasane, Botswana to Kangazula, Zambia. This is a ferry border crossing with one ferry that operates the crossing. When we drove to the ferry we passed a huge queue of trucks waiting for a spot on the ferry. Most of these trucks drive the long way towards South Africa bypassing Zimbabwe due to the many roadblock and bribery practices of the Zimbabwean police. With a regular car you can just drive to the beginning of the line as the ferry can transport 5 small cars and one large truck.
The border post on the Botswana side is very easy and only took about 15 minutes, but (as always at a border post) we were immediately surrounded by fixers who offered to help us (for a fee of course). Since all border crossings so far were really smooth we declined the help. After getting all the stamps (and the gate pass) we got to the ferry and we drove immediately on it. Fifteen minutes later we drove off the ferry on the Zambian site.
This border post was a little bit more complicated than on the other side…we need to get our passports and the carnet de passage stamped, pay road and carbon tax…but it is unclear where we need to pay our road tax (in US$) and our carbon tax (in ZMV). After 1,5 hours of walking from building to building and waiting in line we paid road and carbon tax and started our drive to Livingstone.
Livingstone and Victoria Falls
Livingstone is an hour’s drive from the border and we arrived the beginning of the afternoon. We heard good things about Jollyboys backpackers and go there to see of we can camp there. The pace looked very nice and vibrant, but you could only pitch your tent there…so we searched for another campsite and went to Victoria Falls waterfront on the Zambezi River.
In the evening we enjoyed a couple of drinks while watching sunset over the Zambezi River. The next day we had to do some errands, like getting money, a new SIM card, etc. We also wanted to buy some bug spray, called ‘peaceful sleep’ as there were many mosquitos in our truck the night before…and yes we sleep peacefully after spraying the truck at night. We ended up visiting five different shops as ‘peaceful sleep’ was sold out in all the supermarkets in town. Once found, Judith decided to buy all the cans (three).
In the afternoon we visited the Royal Livingstone hotel, possibly the most expensive hotel in Zambia. A luxury hotel with excellent outdoor seating area overlooking the Zambezi River towards the Victoria Falls. We could only see the spray of the Falls going into the sky, as they plunge down on the Zimbabwean side.
In the evening we went on the Royal Livingstone express, a stream train from 1922 that will ride the tracks onto the historical bridge over the Batoka gorge looking towards the Victoria Falls. Dinning in style on part of the tracks that connects Cairo to Cape Town. John Cecil Rhodes funded the build of the tracks, even though he never visited Zambia.
The next morning we visited the Mosi-oa-Tunya (‘the smoke that thunders’) national park for sunrise. Having already seen the Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwean side we were a little bit disappointed as the falls on the Zambia side were almost dry (as it is the end of the dry season). After our short hike Wilfred suggested to see if breakfast at the Royal Livingstone was open to non-guests…and it was…the breakfast was the best hotel breakfast we ever had !!! Excellent coffee, fresh juices and a very extensive menu for cooked breakfast…Wilfred enjoyed poached eggs with smoked crocodile and Judith ordered a eggs with steak. It was so good we were tempted to go there again.
Kafue National Park
Our next destination in Zambia is Kafue National Park, 200 kilometres west of Lusaka and the size of Belgium. It is the largest national park of Zambia and one of the biggest in the world. The park is very diverse in geography, i.e. the Kafue floodplains, woodlands and swamp areas. We stayed one night at New Kalala campsite in the south sector on the shores of Lake Itezhi-Tetzhi and two nights in the middle sector at Mayukuyuku campsite on the shore of the Kafue River.
To get to the south sector we drove from Monze via Lochinvar National park over the Kafue floodplains to Lake Itezhi-Tezhi. It was a long day of driving and the roads led us through small villages with traditional mud huts. As it has been dry for a long time in Zambia we decided to drive on different tracks to our destination…many tracks run across the floodplains and where the river once ran there are now many dry riverbed crossings.
On our game drive in the middle sector we saw the puku and oribi antelope for the first time. We used our new screens for the front windows for the first time to keep the tsetse flies out of our car and they worked like a charm. From our campsite we saw many elephants crossing the Kafue River or bathing, hippo’s (who make a lot of noise at night) and some wading birds.