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Monday, 5 September 2011

Zambia: breathtaking sunsets, night swimming under the stars and Vic Falls … and driving through the stark empty stretches of Namibia.

We are sorry that the blog entries have been a bit scarce but we have been driving very big distances everyday and often have arrived too exhausted but mostly to places where there is absolutely no sign of internet. We are currently in Windhoek, Namibia and are planning to be back in Cape Town by Wednesday evening… we have mixed feelings. We are both really sad that this amazing trip is coming to an end but obviously also excited to see friends and family who we have really missed over the last 7 weeks!

This last part of the journey has had challenges different from other parts of our trip so far. Because we have been covering quite far distances, the recent challenge has been one of endurance. Doing 700km per day, on average, is quite challenging on these roads where one has to always be vigilant of potential road-kill… goats being the most anarchic of the lot… but human beings are no less unpredictable. Physically it has also been challenging… our bums are very tender! But we have seen some amazing sights and the scenery has been really wonderful. 

View over the river.

Beautiful bathing birds...

Our first drive in Zambia took us to the beautiful Luangwe River. We arrived just in time to enjoy the most magnificent sunset either of us have ever bared witness to. We were riding through a windy pass up and down dense green hills of bush while the sun was setting… it was a huge swollen pink sun that was dotting up and down inbetween the hills and peering through the bush at us. It is hard to explain it… but it was a really magnificent sunset… one we will remember forever. We got to a lodge/campsite that had been recommended to us by our hostel in Lilongwe, “Bridge Camp.” We managed to make the dirt road just before the darkness enveloped it and were very happy to wash off the day’s dirt in a beautiful pool that overlooked the river… underneath a sky just full of stars! The bungalow we stayed in had walls that were made only of netting… which didn’t seem to keep any of the bugs out at night and so seemed a bit unpractical however in the morning when we awoke to the sound of beautiful chirping birds and feeling like we were sleeping in the trees, we realized what a great idea it really was!
Outside Spar in Lusaka...

What has really stood out about Zambia for us as South Africans though, is how South African business has really taken over the country… it is quite startling really! Driving into Lusaka (but everywhere else as well) you really feel like you have arrived in Joburg, the place is just packed with South African retail stores and restaurant chains … Spar, Woolworths, Fochini, Truworths, Pep, Vodacom, MTN, Nandos, Ocean Basket, Debonaires, King Pie… the list goes on! We also overheard a Zambian guy being interviewed by local radio about what he thought about this South African ‘invasion’ … he was not positive. So it seems that it is not only Chinese and European imperialism that is prevalent in Africa but also South African… hmm! Well, the debate about whether this is a positive or negative thing for Zambians is a big one and we rode 720kms today so that is my excuse for not broaching the subject right now…
Amazing Vic Falls!

Another huge highlight in the Zambian chapter of our adventure has definitely been the Victoria Falls. We stayed in Livingstone for a night and spent the day wondering around the falls… it definitely exceeded my expectations! It is quite dry at the moment so the falls are not entirely covered by water and you get to see the beautiful rock features protruding out of the gushing falls… quite amazing. I always find the sound of water so peaceful and soothing and it was amazing just to let your mind wander and become entranced by the sound of the cascading water. The biggest treat though was seeing a big beautiful rainbow that seemed as if it had fallen down and was now trapped at the bottom of the falls… it was really magnificent!

The following day we head for the Namibian border and crossed into the Caprivi Strip through the Namib border town of Katima Mulilo. The drive was amazing through long straight stretches that seem to go on forever. The road was the best we have been on so far and there was far less cattle and people to worry about so it was great to just be able to relax and enjoy the riding. The Caprivi must have recently suffered from a bad fire because massive stretches of it were completely charcoaled, I am sure this coupled with the fact it was sweltering hot and very dry, unfortunately kept most of the animals away… although there are signs all along to beware of elephants crossing. We resolved to stay near Rundu and found a place with a view over the stunning Okavango River… as usual we were just in time for a beautiful sunset.

Today we made our way to Windhoek… driving through the dry open terrain makes Namibia just seem like an endless expanse of land. The distances here between towns are just massive, quite a stark contrast to so many other countries we have travelled through where there is just human settlement along the entire length of the road. The landscape between Rundu and Windhoek changes quite drastically and as we got closer to Windhoek the dry barren plains transformed into the blue mountains that frame the city. Unfortunately we are not able to explore as much of Namibia as we would like but we have got a good taste and know that we will definitely be back to find out more about what this beautiful country is all about.

We are off now to try and see if we can find some dinner… perhaps something deliciously German. Our next post will probably be in Cape Town.

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  1. Chelsea Amor Lotz5 September 2011 at 21:13

    Well done, That must take real courage, determination and endurance! Hopefully this will inspire more people to embark on true adventures!

  2. Hi Brittany, looks like the sun got hold of you and stripped you of some skin! Drive safe see you in two days! Rony