Rural Zambia

With a 12 hour drive (including breaks) looming over us, our G Adventures African Overland Truck group left at 6am from Victoria Falls in Zambia.  We stopped for lunch at an abandoned school yard.  There were some children playing and they came over to check us out.

I had some crackers, so I doled some out to each of them.  The older ones tried to trick me and returned for more, but I didn’t fall for that.  Jess, our Tour Director said we should try not to give things to the children, because it perpetuated a begging problem.  I started reading another book about Africa on the trip, “Dark Star Safari“, by Paul Theroux, and he mentions how many people feel that all of the charity and aid for the past 40 years may have made things worse in Africa.  Anyway, Jess said she would give them our left over bread from lunch.  Unfortunately, she didn’t dole it out and the oldest one took it and ran off.

One of the guys in our group got a soccer ball out of the truck and started playing with the children…

Driving through the Zambian countryside with tree covered rolling hills reminded me at times of the Smoky Mountains or parts of Kentucky.   There weren’t many cars on the road, but a lot of people walking or bicycling alongside the road.  I wondered where they could be walking to…at times we were out in the middle of nowhere.  The roads were mainly paved and there were both cement block homes and simple huts along the road.  I noticed there were high walls around many of the houses.  Whenever there was a small village (even a few huts), there would be speed bumps.  We couldn’t see out the front of the Overland Truck, so it felt like we were in a capsule being propelled along the road, shaken up like a martini!

We stopped at a local market…

I love the bright colors the women wear!

That evening we camped at a place called Mama Rula’s Campsite.  The lights don’t switch on in the shower area until after dark, so I took a cold shower in the dark (well…almost dark)!  Jess made Spaghetti Bolognese and garlic bread for dinner…yum yum!


The Mighty Victoria Falls

Although my G Adventures 35 Day Overland Truck Adventure was challenging because of the long bumpy driving days, the lack of creature comforts while camping, and being in close confines with a diverse group of people (ages, nationalities and personalities), the rewards were tremendous!  By day 19, some of the highlights had been Fish River Canyon in Namibia (see my post here); Dune 45 and Deadvlei Salt Pan in Namibia (see my posts here and here); Etosha National Park in Namibia (see my post here); visiting the San Bushman in Botswana (see post here); the Okavango Delta in Botswana (see posts here and here);  and Chobe National Park in Botswana (see post here).

Today, we drove four hours from Chobe National Park in Botswana to Livingstone, Zambia, where the mighty Victoria Falls are.  After crossing the border into Zambia, we arrived at the Zambezi Waterfront Campsite, where we would stay put for four nights (a welcome change after moving almost every day).  I paid $10 to upgrade to a tent with electricity and a bed (see below)!  And for the first time on the trip shared my space with someone (lovely Kelly from Australia) for two evenings!  Here’s a photo of her in Botswana after a dog went wee wee on her leg…

Her trip was ending here, so the last two evenings, I had the tent to myself and had to pay $15 per night.  There were only 5 of us from the original 17 that were going all the way from Cape Town to Zanzibar or Nairobi, and we were getting a new Overland Truck, Tour Director and driver, along with some new passengers.

The following day, Kelly, Timo (from Germany) and I left at 8am for Victoria Falls on the Zambia side (it’s a full day excursion if you visit both sides like we did – we didn’t return until 4:30pm).  The falls are over a mile wide and 354 feet deep and are also known as the “Cloud (or Smoke) that Thunders”.

Here is one of our first views….

We crossed the “Knife Edge” bridge and were drenched from the spray of the pounding water.  I felt like I was part of the falls!  There were rainbows everywhere!!

Next, we hiked down over 350 feet to the “Boiling Pot” at the water level and watched the swirling water!

There were quite a few baboons on the trails and suddenly one of them jumped up at Timo and scratched his arm.  It thought he had food.  He was quite shocked and a bit concerned afterwards about disease.  We gave him a wet wipe and some hand sanitizer for it.  Later we heard another one of the girls in our group had one jump on her backpack and try to scramble away with it.

After consulting with a few people, including our Tour Director, we decided to pay the extra money to walk across the bridge into Zimbabwe to view the front side of the falls.

I had read that it was a must do!   When we inquired of a local which side was better, he said it was similar to asking which side of his face was better.  If I remember correctly, I had to pay $30 extra for a double entry Visa for Zambia, $30 for a Visa to enter Zimbabwe, and $30 to enter the falls on the Zimbabwe side.

We decided to walk across the bridge rather than take a taxi (no man’s land – since you’re really not in either country) and we stopped to watch a girl bungee jump.  This was the bungee jump that broke a while back and a girl broke her collar-bone, but survived!

Here she’s ready to jump.

And here she is dangling down below….

As you can see, the falls are spectacular!  Although photos don’t do it justice…the spray from the water doesn’t lend itself to great photos!  From September to January you can see the falls really well because it during the dry season.  But then you miss the experience of the thundering powerful falls.

I was surprised at how few people we encountered!  If you are able to visit Victoria Falls, I definitely recommend seeing them from both sides!