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22.02.98 - Travelling to Livingston

We got off the train at Kapri Mposhi at around 7am and looked around for a matutu immediately for the (supposed) 2 hour journey to Lusaka (the capital of Zambia). Eventually our matutu departed after an extended wait with what turned out to be a 20 passenger load (inc. two babies and lots of luggage) in our van. The matutu took 4 hours to get to Lusaka and it was pain the whole way - we were crammed in the back seat with no leg-room and our backpacks resting on our legs on a seat that was not much better than a plank of wood. We even got stopped at one point for a police check - they checked the matutu's first aid kit, totally unpacking it and checking off all the required items. I'm quite sure they make laws up on the spot just to annoy people.

We got into Lusaka and our first priority was to change money into the local currency (since we had no Zambian "Kwachas"). Me and Joe changed US$50 each in a hotel after almost getting totally ripped off by the 'money changers' outside. Our 'guide' (whom we had picked up at the bus depot) took us back to the bus stop and waited for us to tip him so we got onto the bus that was taking us to Vic. Falls and waited to leave (no-way was I tipping this guy).

This bus was another epic nightmare - taking hours to leave, picking up too many passengers and breaking down only 70km short of our destination (Livingstone). What was meant to be a 6 hour trip turned out to take 12 and we had to stay in the bus overnight because we couldn't check into a hotel when we got into town because it was too late. We met some cool people on the bus, however, and we ended up travelling the next few days with a Japanese girl (Rie) who was travelling around Africa alone, which is pretty damn gutsy - especially for the Japanese who tend to like travelling around 'safe' destinations.

23.02.98 - Victoria Falls

The regular backpackers lodge was full, so we ended up going to Gecko's lodge just down the road which was excellent. The manager, Ellie, was amazingly helpful. We hitched into Victoria Falls on Ellie's recommendation, which actually turned out to be easier than we thought considering there was four of us. We walked around the Falls - which were spectacular - and got totally drenched by the spray resulting from the falls in full flood.

Joe and Rie did the bungee jump off the bridge over the Zambezi river. At US$90 a jump, and coming so soon after all my stuff being stolen, I elected to just watch.

We stopped off at the Curio stores and I bought a few things for close to nothing - amazing the bargains you can get when you don't have any money to spend. The quality at Vic Falls was excellent, the best stuff we've seen all around Africa.

We hitched back to our lodge and were exhausted by then (we figured out we had been travelling for 50 hours straight to get from Dar es Salaam to Livingston). so we chatted to Ellie for a while, along with a few of her friends/guests and booked our white-water 'River Surfing' for the next day. We had an excellent dinner at the Pub up the road and then crashed for the night.

24.02.98 - River Surfing the Zambezi

Got picked up at 8am for the boarding with a truckload of other people who were doing it too (we only got in after a late cancellation). The boarding was run by what was originally an NZ outfit so it all seemed very Australian. We had a few pointers from our guides on rafting and boarding and then hit the water after hiking down to the river along a dubious looking path.

The boarding was excellent! In particular rapid 16b (called 'The Washing Machine') took us all by surprise! It was rated at 4-5 (out of 6 which our guide said was unrideable) and we were meant to avoid it, but I headed straight through it! To be truthful, even if I had wanted to miss it I don't think I could have, but it was great fun so I'm glad I didn't. I don't think everyone had the same attitude however, especially one girl I had to pull out of the rapid after she got dunked repeatedly and started getting asthma.

We spent more time in the rafts than we would have liked, the guides told us there were crocs in the rivers at certain points and that we would have to sit in the rafts. We still had an excellent time, and I managed to do some actual 'surfing' on the river by dropping in on standing waves which developed at certain points on the river where there were submerged rocks.

Unfortunately we had to leave straight after the rafting so we didn't have a chance to check out the photos and video the guides took during the rafting. Fortunately a Dutch girl called Rose (I think) took my e-mail and phone number and said she would look for any photos of us and give them to us when she came to Sydney in the middle of '98.

We were running late for our train and we had to meet Rie so we ended up running (literally) so we didn't miss it. We really didn't want to miss that train - we had to leave Africa in only a couple of days from Harare, and travel is not a thing that happens fast in Africa. We made the train and met up with Rie - fortunately we didn't have to book a cabin and we managed to get one to ourselves (it was classified as 2nd class but it only had 4 bunks). It was an old, but very comfortable cabin and we were, once again, very happy to be on a train rather than a bus. Only two days left in Africa!

Document: 980223.shtml
Published: 26.07.98
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