12.04.2014 - 20.05.2014 33 °C
We enjoyed our drive the night before but decided that at this time of year our time was better spent in drier Namibia. I’d like to revisit Zambia in the future, maybe canoe the lower Zambezi, visit South Luangwe, Zambia’s most famous park, and visit Malawi and Mozambique. There is so much to see in Southern Africa one, or even two trips are not enough. We got in a quick game drive, which is always enjoyable but came to the end of a road that was obviously in need of repair. At this point we called it a day and headed out of the park. We passed by small villages and towns, many of which had road side markets.
We went through Lusaka because the roads were in better condition. There were more direct tertiary and secondary routes but I pushed for the tar roads because I thought they’d be faster. In the end I think they’re probably the same time wise. You need to decide whether you’d rather play avoid the potholes or drive more km. I was also interested in seeing Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. Now, having passed through briefly I wouldn’t suggest you put it high on your list as an African tourist destination. It is a sprawling mass of road-side stalls, smog, and people everywhere. The city has no real downtown core and is jam packed with 18 wheelers. The industry in Zambia is based around farming and copper mining and the big copper trucks are coming from North of Lusaka from the Copper belt on their way out of the country. Now, I'll just end this section by saying that we didn't gave Lusaka a thorough investigation, but had other places we wanted to spend our time.
We did visit Mundawanga Environmental Park, about 10km south of Lusaka on our way out of the city. This is a really interesting place (it doesn’t justify a visit to Lusaka but if you find yourself in the city it is definitely worth stopping by). They have some animals as permanent residents for education of the local population. They also had a breeding program to boost numbers in the wild and housed animals rescued from the illegal animal trade or that encroached too closely on farmland. These animals were being rehabilitated for re-release into the wild. I suspect the park is largely supported by Embassies, which have plaques mounted on the various facilities they have donated, but is also supplemented by the ~30 Kwacha/5USD entry fee and restaurant. I was really hoping they’d have a pangolin but we were not in luck. The pangolin is my mystical African animal that I hope and hope to see. For now I’ll need to be satisfied by u tube videos. The park did have wild dogs. The parents were the basis for this successful breeding program and pups are released into the wild once they have reached a certain age. Wild dog populations are sparse and declining in Africa so this is a really nice program to see. We got to get up close and personal (well actually you do want to keep a bit of distance) with ostrich, wild pig, warthogs, porcupines, including two albino porcupines, a variety of monkeys and birds and a few other animals. It is a bit like a zoo but the animals seem well cared for and have large, forested pens. We were there for feeding time and delightedly watched the park staff launch fruits and veggies over the fences to the eagerly awaiting animals.
Near the restaurant there were botanical gardens with lots of benches and a beautiful lush river. We saw quite a few local couples spending the afternoon walking leisurely through the park. Definitely worth a visit. This is likely the only exposure that most people living in Lusaka get to some of the more exotic animals that populate their country and seemed a popular destination for school groups. Educating the next generation about these animals is one of the best long term solutions to reduce poaching.
The drive to Livingstone was as you might imagine a long one but definitely not boring. We saw all kinds of things- trucks from Idaho, unusual cargo, the wreckage from a huge number of traffic accidents, and then a really pretty sunset.
Lots of construction outside Lusaka and then the pothole filled roads West of Choma. I am beginning to suspect no matter which route you choose you don’t ever get a pothole free drive.. Hopefully by the time you visit they’ll have made significant progress on their roads, which at least seemed to be underway. We arrived at Livingston in the pitch dark at 10:30 at night. We stayed again at the backpackers lodge and fell asleep to the now familiar bar music across the street.