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Day 22. Zambia. Livingston & Victoria Falls

sunny 32 °C

Olga’s was such a pleasant place we went there again the next morning for coffee. This restaurant is clean, feels safe, and has good food. They provide free training for youth in plumbing and electrical appliances, tailoring, computers, catering and construction. We still had a long way to go to make it to Kafue park in Zambia so had wanted to keep pushing forward. But you can´t drive through Livingstone without at least visiting the bridge that connects Zambia and Zimbabwe and spans the Victoria Falls gorge. You drop by immigration, show your passport, they give you a little stamped piece of paper which you then relay to the guard at the gate and walk the short distance to the bridge. The 18-wheelers were all parked on the side of the road, presumably as their drivers cleared customs. The baboons were certainly making the most of this opportunity by breaking into the trucks' cargo. We saw quite a few trucks hauling big blocks of copper, one of Zambia's main exports.
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Only one car can be on the bridge at once as there is only a single lane on one side of the bridge and train tracks on the other. We watched two girls bungee jump off a small platform in the middle. This seemed terrifying to me, partially because I am a bit afraid of heights but mostly because safety regulations in Africa are close to non-existent so who knows what condition those ropes and carabiners were in. I wouldn’t even consider white water rafting here with a commercial company. From the photos I think you can see that it is difficult to see much of the falls from the bridge and thus difficult to get a sense of how big they are. Very interesting nonetheless.
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We carried on our way and spent the rest of the day driving. Our plan was to enter Kafue through the southernmost gate, Dundumwenze. The Zambian park fees are expensive compared to Namibia and so we weren’t planning on entering the park that day but only trying to get relatively close to the gate and wild camping. At Choma, North east of Livingston, we turned off the main road and headed north on a secondary dirt road. The signage wasn’t perfect (see below) but we were quite confident we were on the right road, mainly because there aren’t that many road choices; the main paved road or the tertiary dirt road (filled with potholes).
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The driving was slow going but enjoyable. We passed quite a few people along the way and everyone was friendly, waving at us with big smiles as we passed. In contrast to the rural people passed in Namibia who consistently had their hands out asking for ‘sweeties’ the Zambians were just waving and smiling. This gives the country a completely different feel. For us the begging is very characteristic of West Africa and so Zambia so far was a nice change. Zambia is one of the most urbanised countries in sub-Saharn Africa with 44% of the population living in urban areas. The country has 72 ethnic groups, most of which are Bantu-speaking. The population is much larger than that of Namibia- 15million vs just over 2 million. The GDPs per capita are also quite different (Zambia: 1500 USD vs Namibia: 5800 USD).

Just before sunset we ducked onto a side road and set up our camp. An older fellow on his bicycle came by about 30 minutes later and stopped to chat. I asked if he lived nearby- he said in the village we had passed about a km back but was headed over this way to visit relatives. I also asked if he thought it would be OK for us to stay here tonight and he said absolutely, that it was a very safe place, no lions. He wanted to know if we had matches in case we wanted to make a fire. Just really incredibly nice. We set up our little tail gate bar and enjoyed the rest of the evening.
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Posted by Jmclellan 03:57 Archived in Zambia

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