Monday, 16 September 2013

What can a man's eyes see in a week! (Malawi, Zambia & Botswana).

Monday 19 August 2013, Early afternoon.
Baboon in front of Victoria Falls
Many friends were there to open their arms and say good bye. People that I have been with for a couple of weeks, days or hours. Sometimes this can be really difficult, but I am kind of used to it…
We left Nkhata Bay in the afternoon. With Jacque and Neta we are sharing the taxi only up to Mzuzu, with Tony, the English guy with whom I feel like sharing the bond of friendship, we will travel together all the way to Botswana, through Zambia. After that, he plans to move on to Namibia, and myself…no plans at all.
Getting a ticket and a seat on the daily bus to the country’s capital was surprisingly easy. It had nothing to do with my previous experience in the neighboring country (Tanzania).
The bus ride was relatively comfortable and lasted less(!) than we expected it to last. Roughly six hours. We arrived in Lilongwe a bit earlier than midnight and got informed that the next bus to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, would not leave before 6.30 next morning. Thankfully, the bus was there with the door open. This is where we spent the night. Oh, it was so cold,
even with the sleeping bag. I miss so much the jumper that they stole from me back in Malawi… (I never made it to replace it with a new one as the market in Nkhata Bay does not trade new clothes, and furthermore “the winter's finished, so no more winter clothes for sale, bro…”)!
I slept all the way to the borders with Zambia, where I had a short adventure with the immigration officers, who discovered that my visa had expired 2 weeks ago. They told me to go and collect my language from the bus because they intended to bring me in front of a “judge”, in the back office.
I brought my stuff, they were waiting me outside, tried to scare me, asked for 100$, they finally took 30, and I crossed the borders with my passport stamped properly.
The way from the border to Lusaka (Zambia).
I was still sleepy and confused at that time, and I completely forgot to change some 50$ I had in Malawian currency. I brought them back to Greece, but no worries, I have so many people who plan to travel to Malawi, promptly :) 
When we got back on the bus, I realized there were only a handful of passengers travelling with us, which felt like a magical image, for the typical standards of transportations in Africa. That incredible comfort lasted only for a while as the buss got absolutely full in the next border city, by a big group of volunteers of a Dutch Organization which was operating in a nearby village. They were travelling to Lusaka, to fly out. The trip was long, longer than twelve hours, and the landscape was not any more green and diverse. Zambia is an endless plain of dry steppe.
We arrived in Lusaka at 18.30 in the evening and booked the next bus to Livingstone, less than one hour later. Plenty of time to quench my thirst and hunger, and stretch my body a bit as we had some eight more hours on the road.
In Livingstone we arrived at about 3.30 in the morning. The streets were dark and seemed deserted and the temperature was very low. We asked the driver to stay in the bus until morning and he pointed out another bus nearby, we could spend the rest of the night there, this bus would leave right away. We walked less than 50 minutes and that was enough to freeze. Those two or three hours in that bus were like a torture. I was freezing and almost every single part of my body was in pain.
We only spent two nights in Livingstone, and that was long enough for our bodies to recover for the long and exhausting trip but also for our eyes to see one of contemporary world’s biggest miracles, the Falls.  

Smart tips for backpackers and independent travellers:
A chameleon residing right next of my tent.
 Both JolyBoys Backpackers & Livingstone Backpackers offer relatively cheap accommodation options, with the prices for the campsite (with your own tent) to be at the time 8USD for the first one and 6USD for the second. Both are organizing any kind of safaris, activities and excursions, with the first one to be more experienced and expensive.

Food in lodges or in restaurants is about 5 to 7 bugs for a meal, but lodges provide self catering options and fully equipped kitchens for that purpose, while the two central super markets of the city have nothing to envy from the western ones, but have nothing to do with them pricewise (they are significantly cheaper, apparently).
The Falls of Victoria.

Jimmy and Tony.

Literary on the road to the Falls.

texts & photos
by Dimitris Mamakos
more about Dimitris, here 
connect with Dimitris on facebook, here

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