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The Solo Scooterist

Documenting my travels on a Vespa

Category: Zambia (page 1 of 2)

Ahhhh Zhaaambia the gentle

On my last night in Namibia (what I thought would be peaceful  night with a good nights sleep), things changed dramatically when a group of around six Tigerfish fishermen rolled into camp . With the magical wand of brandy and Jaegermeister turned what was meant to be an early night into having to wait until early the next morning to fall asleep as the loud conversation eloquently moved between Afrikaans and German, as did the seamless gear changes between the brandy and Jaeger.

 

Little  sign big country

Little sign big country

After my investigations around camp I chose not to go through Botswana and brave the road. This did not prove to be that bad as Victoria’s small wheels found the slithers of  tar amongst the devastation from the trucks.

 

The mighty Zambezi

The mighty Zambezi

 

This was the worst of it.

This was the worst of it.

The border took an age on the Zambian side with various counters you have to navigate to get all your required documents done. That being said,  the officials are very eager to help and get you across. I arrived just behind a big group which caused the lapse of hours. The experience was more than tolerable and after about two hours we were on our merry way to Livingstone!

 

2 wheels the faithful carrier of anything.

2 wheels the faithful carrier of anything.

I loved the ride down to Livingstone. The road takes you through fantastic bush, forest and villages,  with a hive of activity from people selling their wares, children walking home from school enjoying the treat of  sugar cane from the roadside. There is just so much to take in .

 

magical green , gold and yellows dancing  in the light.

magical green , gold and yellows dancing in the light.

 

The stalls cater for all needs. Those who need charcoal for a braai,  or a wide  choice of vegetables  for those vegetarians making their way home. In between all of this you are able to pick up some river fish , cellphone airtime, a cold beer, or even a taxi into town.

 

Ladies love to chat

Ladies love to chat

Nature taking her own back , the road narrows in places as the vegetation marches on.

Nature taking her own back , the road narrows in places as the vegetation marches on.

The ride took most of the day  with a few stops to take it all in.  I was glad I chose this route down. I had to take this picture for Rufus and his crew as they took the same picture in 2011. Just showing that perseverance does not always pay off.

 

same picture different bike

same picture different bike

35km from my destination the tar turned to smooth black velvet and the humming of my rubber combined with  the smell of the bush whisked  me along  into the beautiful  Livingstone .

Trucks waiting to cross with the ferry into Botswana.

Trucks waiting to cross with the ferry into Botswana.

Not far now

Not far now

I booked myself into Jollyboys Backpackers for a few days to put the freshness back into my clothes and do a few point checks on Victoria –  after all, we have done the distance . I decided to camp as the place has good facilities and they make it easy to do overland chores.

 

Home for the next while

Home for the next while

 

Reelhaaaxing

Reelhaaaxing

 

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I settled in, hung out with a couple of fellow hostel-dwellers and am enjoying the mild evening listening to various travel chronicles . Then off to bed… for tomorrow is all about smoke and thunder!

Until we meet again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Falls full of wonder and Zambia smiles

I was up early and eager to enjoy a morning at the Victoria Falls. Last year my Dad and  I experienced the falls from Zimbabwe so today it was the  Zambians turn.  I packed my gear, including the rain suit I use when riding the scooter in wet weather – it was about time I got it out of the bag as I have been dragging it around all the dry places.

I got to the park just after it opened and it felt like I was the only person enjoying its beauty.

 

Very important picture , Victoria was adamant about this one.

Very important picture , Victoria was adamant about this one.

As you start following the paths that take you around the Falls you start to feel lost in a different time , a time ancient and wild. Thunder and smoke fill your senses and you feel the power of Mother Nature all around you.

 

Enjoying the falls in solitude

Enjoying the falls in solitude

The water roars and races over the cliffs – down, down it plummets,  just to return as a torrential rain that washes all over you. I stood on the bridge that crosses to knifes edge, washed by the waters of the Zambezi and baptised an African by the Falls .  Words can’t describe the power  and privilege  you feel as you stand in awe  transported to a place that connects you to earth.

 

About to cross , dressed up and a place to go.

About to cross , dressed up and a place to go.

 

Rain suit came in handy

Rain suit came in handy

 

Just overwhelming

Just overwhelming

After this very special time,  I spent the next couple of hours exploring  the Falls walking the trails, and letting nature soak in .

View across to Zimbabwe.

View across to Zimbabwe.

In the rain forest

In the rain forest

I left the Falls a couple of hours later with a wonderful sense of calm and a feeling of rejuvenation to go and explore the town of Livingstone .

I came across this fantastic little coffee shop with delicious cappuccinos and a hearty breakfast where I took time out to enjoy the street traffic .

 

Munali Café

Munali Café

Café life – ones window to the world, coffee your companion. Time is yours to savour and people fill your view . So I let hours pass as I observed those sporting elegance in work attire, the blazing bright colours of mothers wearing Chitenge suits with children hovering at knee-height going about daily life .  Activity filling the streets, the school children rushing to school in their clean, crisp uniforms with the whitest of stockings just out of a Charlotte Bronte novel . Life in Livingstone – a town full of pride as people fill her streets, greeting  each other with faces full and kind, smiles wide and real .

I walked the streets surrounded by the gentle, kind and colourful Zambians allowing me to observe a little of life in Livingstone. A day full of flavour.

Until we meet again .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trading Jolly’s for Perfume and Pith Helmets

Lazy days in Livingstone has been the recurring theme for the last couple of days. Reading, walking the streets and doing a little route planning in preparation for tomorrow. Tomorrow it is back on the scooter to start my journey through Zambia.

After an early start and a leisurely breakfast on the high street with the local Livingstonian’s,  I thought it would be appropriate to go for a late lunch at the Royal Livingstone before departing this fantastic town.  My Dad and I enjoyed lunch at the Victoria Falls  hotel on my last visit  so I thought it only fair to do the same on the Zambian side.

So off I scooted to enjoy a lunch and a afternoon relaxing on the manicured lawns , where the USA dominates and Jozi is represented – both Hilfiger and Inkomazi rub shoulders as local labels . The well- travelled mask the musk of long flights with the freshness of a well known French fragrances to arrive here and be greeted by the warm African sun and her warm smiles .

 

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The afternoon was glorious surrounded by the beauty of the Falls in the distance. Fresh shrimp and rocket washed down with a crisp glass of effervescent wine and rounded off with a dark rich espresso .

 

Calm with the power of the falls in the distance.

Calm with the power of the falls in the distance.

 

The powerand the smoke .

The power and the smoke .

Lunch view

Lunch view

Until we meet again.

 

 

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Leaving Livingstone for the city lights

After breaking camp and a good cup of Munali coffee,  I was back on the road heading up to Choma where my replacement cell phone had been sent from Johannesburg.  A big thanks to Chaku for organising the collection and delivery for me.  I was initially on my way to Lake Kariba, but after a discussion about the road conditions after recent rains, I decided to push on to Lusaka.  My estimated time of arrival on the GPS was 16h30 so off we went looking forward to seeing the city.

 

Parting shot from the road through Livingstone. I did keep Victoria running just in case.

Parting shot from the road through Livingstone. I did keep Victoria running just in case.

All was going really well until about 100 km from Lusaka. A baptism of fire it was! Trucks, buses, fast cars, taxis, oil- spills and potholes. I had never ridden in conditions like this before-  we really had to apply concentration and find some skill fast . At the 60 odd km mark  things got really out of hand. The worst bit of road to date.  I finally only arrived at the campsite I had found after 18h00. I had a look around found it a bit run down and decided to move on to a Backpackers I had read about in a suburb of Lusaka.

I could not find it on my GPS so I approached a group of campers enjoying a braai to ask for directions. The group was made up of South Africans and luckily a local couple who new exactly where I had to go.  Manuel and friends would not let me leave until I was well fed and rested. Thanks for a delicious dinner on the move guys – I so enjoyed meeting you all and breaking bread.

I eventually arrived at my destination after dark. I was exhausted after having left Livingstone at seven,  so had a welcome shower and off to bed to take on the sights and sounds of Lusaka in the morning.

I was up early to try and fix my fuel bags because I needed to carry extra for the next part of my journey, so super glue and duct tape it was – the essential repair kit for most things on the road. I was looking forward to my day in Lusaka as Rebecca had put me in contact with a friend of hers, Israel, who lives in the city I wanted to get a sense of the city and what a fantastic day it was . Israel picked me up and we spent the early part of the morning driving around with him showing me the different pockets of the city,  from the compound where he lived to the suburbs to his home where I met the family . Then we were off to the new stadium for the Zambian 50 year jubilee celebration .

 

So much fever , excitement and colour

So much fever , excitement and colour

Israel and I at the National Heroes stadium

Israel and I at the National Heroes stadium

I spent the most glorious day with Israel touring downtown Lusaka , having ribs and fantastic conversation over a fairly long lunch. I was so impressed by Israel and his family as to how much they put back into rural Zambia with the mission work his parents do and his work helping the community become more tech savvy.

Israel and I share a love for the outdoors,  so I will be returning to share this side of Zambia with him when the opportunity presents itself.  He tells me he has discovered some really special places in Kafue National Park. I can’t wait.

The more time you spend in Zambia the more the people warm your heart. I have met such wonderful people as I scoot through their beautiful country. Truly  gentle , kind and full of smiles. That is how Zambia will live in my heart .

Israel – thank you for showing me your world and I so enjoyed our day together.

Early evening I was dropped off, said my goodbyes and was about to have a shower and pack for my early start. I had not even got through the front garden when I was called across to join Chris and Emanuel for a lot more Zambian hospitality.  What a spectacular day .

 

Leaving Lusaka

Leaving Lusaka

I was up bright and early and on the road by seven to ride up to Petauke about 400km away to stay overnight before I head into the bush tomorrow. The ride was absolutely spectacular with rural Zambia arriving just 60km from the city limits. Then you are transported through magnificent countryside, beautiful greenery lush like the tropics, sweeping hills and valleys, tight and twisting mountain passes, river crossings – just amazing . I find myself feasting on this countryside. It feels so Africa , free and full of space.

 

Early morning fog hangs over the valleys

Early morning fog hangs over the valleys

 

A giant at the roadside

A giant at the roadside

 

Crossing the Luangwa

Crossing the Luangwa

This part of Zambia seems to have stayed very true to its rural roots. Life is lived on or with bicycles –  up and down from village to village – selling, trading, transporting and surviving .

 

Villages all along the road

Villages all along the road

 

Trading store selling charcoal

Trading store selling charcoal

This part of the world seems to live in a different time zone with your day not  governed by hours, days or weeks, but more by the seasons and natures clock guiding you in rural life.  I arrived and booked into a lodge just off the road. This place too has changed time zones and stayed in a past one – lovely staff, tranquil gardens and I hope good food!

 

Vic in the tropics

Vic in the tropics

Tomorrow I head up to Mfuwe  for two nights in the Southern Luangwa national park which I am very excited about, and will endeavour to bring you some great game viewing.

Until we meet again.

 

 

 

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A leopard on the spot

On the road before seven with about 400km to get to the  South Luangwa National Park , I wanted to try and get in early so I could do the late afternoon / early evening game drive, so we put wrist to the accelerator so to speak .  The road to Chipata  is really beautiful with the side of the roads lined with the brightest red pyramids of tomatoes, vitamin-rich sweet potatoes, bananas and all other of rural life’s necessities on display.

What is incredible to see is the amount of pride and effort the vendors put into their displays on the roadside, precision and perfection as you whizz by, lined like soldiers on parade waiting for the customers to stop and shop .  All the while bicycles go up and down carrying maize, coal, children, wood, water and anything else that needs transporting.

 

Life along the road

Life along the road

What caught my eye while riding were the bicycles that I passed so I decided to stop and find out more about these rides and riders – so Vic and I pulled off for a chat .

 

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The proud owner with a very posh passenger seat.

The proud owner with a very posh passenger seat.

Flash mob Zambian style

Flash mob Zambian style

Much laughter all around

Much laughter all around

After hanging out for a while and having to answer so many questions about “Where is the engine?” ” Wow it is automatic!”, “How come it took you so long to get here when the speedo indicates the scooter can do 160 km per hour?”.  I had to explain the 160 was a little lie really and that 70 km to 80 km per hour was more realistic  – eruption of laughter at a speed not much faster than their bicycles on a downhill , and visual disappointment that the speedo was not accurate! I tried to redeem the situation by explaining that the scooter is carrying so much extra weight and that’s why I had to travel slowly.  As far as they were concerned their bicycles could carry what I was and they don’t sport a 300cc engine under their bums . Argument lost it was time for us to ride the rest of the way to Chipata.

I was looking forward to my arrival in Chipata as I was really craving a cappuccino. Yes I have realised caffeine  really is addictive – realising that I had just ridden over 800km to get my next fix. I arrived in town,  met up with Jacob had my two hits and was back on the road to Flatdogs Camp where I was going to stay for a couple of nights.

 

Luangwa valley opens up before my eyes

Luangwa valley opens up before my eyes

Roadside rest

Roadside rest

Laundry in the summer sun

Laundry in the summer sun

The road was good so we made great time and by 14h00 we arrived at the camp on the Luangwa River in time to shower, hand in my laundry and get on the game drive . The feeling you get when walking  around the camp is one of real bush, real Africa, real relaxed and respectful to the nature that surrounds it .

 

Flatdogs camp

Flatdogs camp

River gazing

River gazing

We left on the game drive at 16h00 just after afternoon tea and cake –  and it felt fantastic to be back in the bush and off the road for a while .  The drive was fairly typical as far as game drives go – the stop for the sunset, the usual suspects… and then the stars started popping out like pin pricks and suddenly the sky was alive with light and then darkness fell all around.

 

Sunset over the river

Sunset over the river

Out came the spotlight and after a little while of driving we happened upon a beautiful female leopard sitting in a small gully eyeing some puku to her left and to her right. Off  with the spot and on with the low- glow red lamp that keeps the playing field even as prey can’t see predator and vice versa but we nightblind humans can look on intermittently as the light gets turned on and off whilst tracking the hunt . When the lamp is off you can’t see your hand in front of your face so hidden are you below the stars .

Suddenly she was up! She had chosen her prey and just like that, without a sound, she was gone in a dark silent invisible flash of movement. When our spot found her she was only about 25 metres  from dinner. So we, the blind bunch, moved in on her as she moved in on her prey. We parked right next to her, off with the spot. And so we sat in total silence waiting for death to scream .

Red light on, 10 metres,  red light off,  darkness, still not a sound, just oblivious crickets chirping while death stalked. Red light on, she launches, still no scream. By the time the spot found her she was 50 metres away from us and her prey. She had launched so stealthily and with such focus that she was able to change direction and leave her prey as she realised it would not be a kill – and so not to put the buck on high alert she aborted to circle and try again.  Lucky puku, unlucky leopard, devastated human  – no bloodshed to arouse our ancient  inner core to the hunt .

Deflated we turned the cruiser home to catch our prey on a plate. All that was left was to enjoy the star -congested sky above while letting your mind wonder to what could have been.

So prey digested, to bed and to rise at five for the morning drive .

Until we meet again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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