Zambia Part 2: A Good Nose Pick Goes A Long Way

Once crossing the border from south western Tanzania, we hoped Zambia might reward us with some tar, however quite the opposite happened. Torrential rains had turned the already beaten up dirt road into chutes of gushing water further eating away at this degraded road. Bruski was bouncing around trying his best to dodge the gnarly road and once again impressed us with his strength and power to get through some demanding terrain. The Landcruiser actually had a tougher time sliding out all over the muddy road whilst Bruski seemed comfortable cutting through the mud with his thin tyres and soldiering on. Thankfully this road didn’t last more than 30km before we reached the town of Mbala in northern Zambia. A small relaxed town, there wasn’t much going on and we were unable to exchange dollars being a Sunday and were forced to spend a night. Thankfully we had met a lovely Kiwi lady next to an ATM that offered to help us. Her amazing generosity went as far buying us a meal noticing our rough looks and paying for a room for the night to wash the almost 2 weeks of dirt from our faces. We can’t begin to explain how great that feeling was to have a hot shower and a soft bed after travelling through the rough terrains of western Tanzania, so without doubt we increased our shower times threefold.

Our next destination was 170km south towards Kasama, a much more prominent town in north Zambia. We were recommended to the Thorntree lodge where we were welcomed by a friendly man called Ewart, who offered us another bed for the night. Luxury again but we weren’t complaining after what we had experienced in Tanzania. It was Ewart that pointed us in the right direction to go see the famous Shiwa house, also know as Africa house as well as where to find Dr Livingstone’s memorial and location of his death. So, the next day we set off looking to travel about 200km to Shiwa house to catch a glimpse of these historical and influential house built back in the 1800’s. Turning off the tar we had to travel 70km of some pretty bad corrugations where we lost one of our back windows before we could reach the mansion in the bush. There are also some hot springs on this route and seeing an opportunity to see another sight we pulled in to check what was happening. At reception we were told US$10 just to even walk on the premises and the cost of visiting the hot pools was well out of our budget so we decided not to go in. Especially considering the very hostile atmosphere that was presented to us on arrival we saw now need to stick around there.

Turning up at Shiwa house was fascinating. The grounds look like an old English village with houses dotted around, old pieces of machinery lying about including on old steam train, a church, some stables, an antelope breeding ground and it very own private runway. It was beautiful and we were completely taken away when we got to see the actual house. It was a huge, beautifully kept old house with the insides filled with relics, artefacts and history. Taking a walk around the house itself we could see the magnitude of this building with its strangely excessive size to be built in the middle of nowhere in Zambia. The house has a huge amount of history including the point that the declaration of independence for Zambia was written there by the first president Kenneth Kaunda in 1964.

After sleeping under a powerline next to the road we made our way further towards Dr Livingstone’s memorial site some 240km away. A long tough drive but we managed to make it 20km away from the site before resting next to the local chief’s Chitambo’s property. Off the tar road there is a 20km dirt road to the memorial site which is very well kept and tidy, showing respect for a great man. There are two things to look at; the first being the site Dr Livingstone actually died at and the other the monument site where is where his heart was buried by his faithful native followers Chuma and Souza. These men also then carried Dr Livingstone’s body all the way to Dar Es Salaam where his body was to be sent back to England. Another fascinating, historical site we were very happy to have made the effort to see.

Since leaving Kampala in Uganda we had to travel roughly 2,500km to Lusaka  in convoy with Bruski leading the way. Being only two of us it got incredibly lonely as we stopped regularly just to have a chat or resorting to singing and creating new African languages with funny sounds. Keeping yourself busy whilst travelling large distances is key to keeping a sound mind and that’s why a good nose pick goes a long way to keeping you entertained. Not going in full force and cleaning it all up its best to work on one nostril and hold off on the other one until the boredom or the loneliness strikes again.

We now pushed two more long days to get as close to Lusaka as possible. We made it only 50km north out of Lusaka before we stumbled upon Fringilla Butchery, Guest House and Bar. These awesome people gave us a bed to sleep in and sorted us out with T-bones, Borewors and Biltong for the road. Absolute legends and an incredible place worthy of checking out if ever in the area. We spent a couple of days in Lusaka catching up with old friends we had met in Malawi and the legend lady Penny who we had met at Greenpop and stayed with on the way up.

The first bit of backtracking now began as we decided to return to Siavonga on the north-eastern tip of Lake Kariba to catch up with the good people we met there. We stayed again at Eagles rest with manager Pete, whom we shared stories and some brilliantly cooked meat, really treating our stomachs. We also caught up with Lake Safari Lodge owner, Mousey and manager Grant who showed us a good time. Unfortunately, again we were forced to back track up the same road we came in as the dirt roads running parallel to the lake which we had taken up the first time round where not in good shape and we were highly advised to avoid it. It was a two-day drive to Livingstone on sections of road we hadn’t yet covered and were completely littered with potholes to the extent there was practically no tar to drive on.

Once in Livingstone we went to our old familiar backpackers; Jollyboys which is always a nice place to go. We were offered a few nights camping for free where we met a lot of good people and explored the falls a bit. Just before we were about to leave we met another legend Kiwi; Grubby who offered us a chance to go Whitewater rafting down the Zambezi. Without doubt we extended our stay for a night and went on an epic adventure down 21 rapids on the Zambezi. Getting wet and thrashed around was a lot of fun whilst we attempted to flip the boat at every chance we got, with not much success as the guide was accommodating people who were nervous of getting in the water. Rafting down the Zambezi deep in the valleys is quite a mesmerising experience as you feel so small as you witness the shear size and beauty of natural environments.

We saw a lot of interesting things on this leg down through Zambia and were happy with our progress and that both vehicles were still trucking on. We met some more incredibly helpful, generous and fun people as well as getting a chance to witness some incredible history. Zambia is truly a great country to travel through and there is still a whole lot to experience so we will be back without doubt.