Driving through Zambia
Trip Start Aug 26, 2012
122Trip End Ongoing
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We crossed the border into Zambia in the afternoon of the first day. Prior to that, we stopped for lunch at the side of the road near a barely flowing river, next to no shade and a hot breeze. We had our usual number of locals watching us from a distant with the hopes for some interaction or something to eat. One of us handed out his big bag of cheezies. You would have thought it was Christmas day. Unfortunately there had been a brush fire in the area very recently and ash (from the wind) got into everything we ate and all our dishes. Our first chore when we got to camp outside of the city of Chipata, was to wash all the of the kitchen gear
The next day was a 4:30am wake up call for a 6am start with our destination being Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. Mid-morning we crossed over a suspension bridge that crosses the Luangwa River. We were explicitly told that we could take pictures while on the bridge but could not take pictures of the bridge. The Zambians are very concerned about their security. We also stopped by the nearby village of Luangwa to do so shopping and stretch our legs. There were many stalls of weaved baskets and hats made from the reeds of the river and dried fish (we think it was Bream) caught from the river and a fruit that tasted like dried cherries. This is village is the only main concentration of people and shops between Chipata and Lusaka, a distance of about 500 kms.
Once in Lusaka we had an hour at a good size shopping mall to get various errands done and pick up more supplies. From what I saw, Lusaka is a fairly modern city and it was a bit of a culture shock to be in such an environment; movie theaters and fast food joints has been so of my radar since I left Toronto. The campsite was merely a half hour outside of town but as we drove up we were greeted by a few zebras and a couple of giraffes
Another 4:30am start to get to the Zambia/Zimbabwe border at a descent time in an attempt to avoid a long wait. Regardless the process took about an hour and a half for all of us and the truck to be cleared. Interestingly, Canadians were charged $75 USD, Brits $55 USD and all others $30. The other Canadian paid $100 from the Embassy at home so we are wondering what we did to piss of Zimbabwe? We have also been subject to stricter security and road blocks as we had police and officials come on board our truck at three different times today to check our passports/visas. This has not happened in any other country we’ve been through.
I had been looking forward to being in Zambia as I had heard that it was a beautiful country. Perhaps this is true during the wet season but not so true at the moment. The scenery the last three days has been nothing but driving through no man’s land. Very little population along the road and most dry grasses and trees and lots of burnt out areas. As we have passed the border to Zimbabwe there is finally a change in the landscape. The colour green is slowly reappearing in the trees and grasses. And there is more people and housing along the roads.
We completed this long haul journey by arriving in Harare, the capital and largest city of Zimbabwe, late afternoon. With only an hour of free time, I spent a good portion of it trying to secure some money. I was successful after 3 different bank machines. The machines worked, they just didn’t have any money in them. With the remaining time we went to The Creamery Inn (think Dairy Queen) where I indulged in a Smartie and Bar -one Spinna (think Smartie and chocolate blizzard). Zimbabwe does not have their own currency and uses the US dollar; however we discovered that for change they use the South African Rand. Since there is no mint to make new dollars the condition of the dollars is terrible. They are so worn and dirt you can hardly tell what value it is. It also seems that all the 2 dollar bills have ended up here.
Camp tonight is aptly called Boulder Creek lodge as it was nestled near water amongst many large boulders, near the Harare Airport. There were no camp dogs to entertain us but we had an abundance of frogs hopping through our dining area and camping out for the night under the corners of our tents, (discovered as we were rolling our tents up in the morning). We had not had ice in our cooler for days and I was looking forward to buying a nice cold beer at the bar only to be disappointed. The fridges were not working and my beer in the cooler was colder..not by much though. We all wanted to celebrate the fact that we had completed the toughest part of the trip and can go back to doing some activities instead of just sitting in the truck all day.