Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Back to Zambia

The drive back
Our return trip to Zambia was always meant to be a quick one and I thought we did well to get back to Lusaka in around 3.5 days, although our days were very long!

From Diani Beach we headed south back into Tanzania, a very quick border and the Tanzanian customs officials were great giving us a cheaper visa for transit ($30pp for 7 days).

We were dreading the drive back through Tanzania; many of the roads are 50km because of the back to back “towns” (does three huts REALLY qualify as a town?), the endless speed bumps and the MOST CORRUPT police we came across during our entire time (all 2 years) in Africa. And Tanzania didn’t disappoint!
Baobab Central

Day one of the drive was pretty easy. A couple of issues with police but we felt $6 for the day was ok J. However the second day, the road between Mukumi and Mbeya, was particularly bad. At one police stop they wanted to get us for speeding, the crack in our windscreen and Mike’s “open” shoes (he was wearing his Havianas as per usual). Tough negotiations from Mike saw the price come down from 60,000tsh (~$40) to 30,000 (~$20). Still too much but better than it could have been.

We also had another problem when somehow, a guy driving a Toyota Starlet managed to run into the back of poor Ruth, while she was MOVING! We still have no idea how he managed to do this; we hadn’t stopped, slowed, etc. But he definitely gave us a bit of a shock. Fortunately the police turned up at the accident seen and the guy’s employer was forced to pay for the damage to our bumper bar, which was the ONLY damage we received. We really were very lucky but at the time it was definitely something we didn’t need.

Poor Ruth
A crowd: This must have been the most excitement they'd had in weeks!

Day three went perfectly. We left Mbeya early and headed straight for the Tanzanian-Zambian border, passing through all of it in around an hour. A surprise given how busy this border was!

From the border we headed south, making great time, arriving at the “Africa House” by around 12:30pm. Initially we had planned on staying there for the night in the nearby campground, however we soon changed our mind when we realised that we wouldn’t be able to view the house until the following morning. We were also keen to keep moving given the good time we had made so far that day. And so we took a few photos of the house from the outside (it really was  nice house too) before we headed off further south.

Africa House

Path up to Africa House

By a bit after 5pm we had made it to the town of Serenje where we opted to stay at Mapontela Guesthouse, a family run business which was very clean, with hot water and overall very comfy. A great find and nice place to stop.

Our fourth day, was a short one with a brief stop at the Fig Tree CafĂ©, just outside the town of Kabwe, before getting to Lusaka and our friend Rob’s house, around lunchtime.

All in all a successful trip; not exactly the same as getting to Ethiopia, but nonetheless, achieving the desired outcome.

Our last week in Zambia (and Africa).

I won’t go into too much detail here. Our final days in Zambia were very enjoyable catching up with friends, eating nice food, a birthday party, a braai and a final visit to Olga’s in Livingstone. I even got to see my puppy dog Rambo, who is now living with our former landlord, for one last sad (and teary) goodbye.

An old friend
My happy puppy Rambo

One super cool thing we did do was the “Devil’s Pool” at the top of Victoria Falls. Despite living in Livingstone for nearly a year and a half we never actually got around to doing this one and had been regretting it. So when the opportunity once again presented itself we went for it.

We did the Livingstone Island tour on the breakfast run; this includes the boat to/ from the island from the Royal Livingstone Hotel, the swim out to/ in the pool and then breakfast. It is run by Tongabezi, cost $70 and can be booked either via Tongabezi or most hotel and tour operators in Livingstone.

Moments before the big jump
Awesome shot of Mike taking the big leap
I on the other hand was more focused on what was in front of me
The Devil's Pool....

A totally crazy and exhilarating thing to do!

...on the edge of Victoria Falls
Back on Livingstone Island for breakfast
Coffee, cake and scones, yummy!
All topped off with Eggs Benedict
And so we went out on a bang before a long journey back to Australia!

Back in Lusaka for Rob's birthday

I’m not sure how to wrap up….clearly travelling in Africa is not meant to be easy and at times was incredibly frustrating. However without the work you will never get to see the things we saw and we saw some amazing things!! Even if travelling in Africa self-drive is not for you, just make sure you get there at least once to experience sights, people and events that can’t be experienced anywhere else in the world.

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