October 22 - November 10, 2010
I stayed in Lusaka the capital of Zambia for 6 days doing stuff on the computer, buying some things I needed in the market and organizing my trip in Zambia. Also, there was a hostel in Lusaka with cheap camping and lots of people so for the first time in a while I was able to meet some other travellers.
This was the only picture I took in Lusaka.
Lots of people told me I had to go to the game parks in Zambia. But it seems that every country has game parks I “have to go to”. I’ve already been to 2 in Africa so far and I’m not sure how much different one can be from the other. In the end I decided to go to the Northern Province in Zambia. There was a couple places that sounded interesting to me.
The Northern Province is one of the least touristed parts of Zambia. I had the feeling it was going to be an adventure and it was. Unlike Zimbabwe where the places I went were 20-40km from towns/cities here they were 20-40km from nowhere.
I left Lusaka on a “post” bus. They carry mail but are a little cheaper. The bus was packed full. The aisle was filled with bags of goods from Lusaka. To get to my seat I had to walk along the top of the bags, with all my bags including 6 bags of food for the trip, with people coming and going. At 5:30 in morning it wasn't very fun.
10 slow hours later we were at the turnoff for “Mutinondo Wilderness”. I crawled back over the bags and got out. My bread and a lot of my fruit and vegetables were ruined from the rough ride but at least I made it.
The plan was to start walking the 25km to the park and hope for a car going that way. Right away though I was stopped by a guy from the nearby village. He had the number of the lodge in the park. I phoned and the owner said the camping was full that night. He said maybe the next day there might be a car going to the park but he would gladly come pick me up for $35US! (thanks but no thanks). The guy from the village let me stay in his house that night and the next day he arranged for me to go on his bicycle with another guy on his wife’s bike to take back my bike when we arrived because he needed it the next day.
Forget 25km walking 25km on a bike was hard enough. The sun was directly overhead the whole time and some parts were too sandy so we had to walk but we arrived. I’d paid the guy at the village $8 for the trip and I think only $2 of that went to the guy who actually rode with me so I gave him some food, water and $2 more. Then he strapped my bike to the back of his and started the 25km all the way back to the main road.
At the finish
The park ended up being ok. I stayed two nights. There some walks through the forest with little waterfalls and pools where you could swim. I climbed one of the rounded mountains there and the view was really good. I went for a horse ride too.
The day I wanted to leave it didn't sound like anyone was leaving and could give me a ride. But just as I started walking the 25km one of the staff drove up and said a Swiss couple was going and could give me a ride to the road. This was definitely good news. At the road I got a ride in the back of a cube van to the nearest city. From there I got a ride in a big semi 2.5 hours to the turnoff for "Shiwa N'gandu" where I was going. I began walking. This time it was only 10km. The road seemed really quiet but after only 1.5km a guy came by on a motorcycle and drove me the rest of the way.
Shiwa N'gandu is a huge English style estate with a big mansion built 100 years in the middle of the african bush by a rich Englishman. Now its taken care of by one of his grandchildren and used as a tourist attraction.
I arrived at the estate and was told there was no camping but I could go to Kapisha lodge 20km down the road. I phoned Kapisha and they said there was no transport coming but once again they could pick me up for $35US! Fortunately I talked with Frank, a young guy who managed the farm on the estate. He said I could camp on the farm and even invited me for breakfast the next day. The farm was huge, lots of cows, pigs, sheep and chickens. I slept in the sheep pasture.
The next day I met Frank. He let me in to see the mansion for free (usually $20). Then we had breakfast in the house with food from the farm.
Sir Stewart Gore-Brown, the guy who built Shiwa
After breakfast I started trying to get transport to Kapisha Lodge. I waited 2 hours then got a ride halfway. I had to walk the last 10km but was just glad it wasn't 20km (fortunately it was a bit cloudy so it wasn't so hot). Kapisha is a really nice lodge on the river with an amazing garden and a natural hot spring.
The hot spring, it was perfect after my long walk
I stayed one night and then got my biggest stroke of luck yet. A French lady, Ewa, with her 2 kids, Yann and Matthieu, said she could not just take me to the main road but 400km more to Kasanka National Park where we were both going! Ewa is a French teacher and her husband works at the French embassy in Lusaka. She and the kids were taking a trip during school holidays.
We arrived at Kasanka National Park the next day (the journey took a bit longer than expected due to the frequent massive potholes in the road). During November and December 5-8 million bats come to Kasanka. It was pretty cool. Even in the day the bats fly all around the trees.
Team Zambia, from left Ewa, Kelvin (the driver), Matthieu/Yann and me
Bats, ironically this was on Halloween
The French family were going back to Lusaka right away and I decided to go with them. I wanted to stay a night to see the bats at dark when they really blanket the sky but without a car it would either be very difficult or very expensive. So it was another 6 hours in the car back to the capital. I think Ewa was happy because I sat in the backseat with the kids and kept them occupied.
In Lusaka the family invited me to stay at their house! We had pizza and I met Serge, the dad. I spent the next morning with Yann playing soccer and watching spongebob. Then after lunch I went to the backpacker I was at before. That night for the first time since Cape Town it rained...a lot, with a lot of thunder and lightning. The rainy season has arrived in Zambia. I don't like rain especially when I'm camping and with the rain of course comes mosquitoes. I've actually hardly seen any mosquitoes since I've arrived in Africa. The timing was right though because I was on a bus one day later to Malawi where it's not raining.
Zambia was alright but I can definitely say Zambians were my least favourite people so far. Sure there are nice ones but it seems like most will not miss any opportunity to try to get some of my money. Also, in general I sensed a lot of underlying bitterness towards white people, especially in Lusaka. A Zambian Lady I talked to complained to me about how "the US are in other countries to steal their resources" and how Africa would have been rich and powerful "if the colonists never came". Maybe this is how a lot of Zambians feel.
Now I'm in Malawi. I had a bit of an adventure getting here though. I had a ticket for a direct bus from Lusaka to Lilongwe (Malawi) but when I went to catch my bus they said it was waiting halfway in Chiapata but they would pay for me to take a minibus there then I could get on the bus. The locals went along with it so so did I. The bus was super slow and we arrived in Chiapata at midnight. Sure enough there was no bus. They basically took our money and left us to dry. Luckily a Zambian lady's friend in Malawi drove all the way from Lilongwe at 3am to get her and offered to drive a Malawian guy, his son and me as well. When we arrived the Malawian friend was a bit grumpy when we only topped up her gas tank but we thought it was fair. I went to the office of the bus company in Lilongwe and thankfully they gave some of my money back.
Malawi is nice. It seems to be the cheapest place so far. Mangoes are 10cents which is great and for $2 you can get nice meals with rice and meat. I was a bit sick when I arrived. I thought it was Malaria but the test showed negative. I think I got some kind of bacterial infection while I was in Northern Province in Zambia. I went to the hospital and they gave me some pills (ciprofloxacin) that seem to be working.
Hard at work in Lilongwe
Africans are really religious. Church is a big deal. They may have kicked out the Europeans but they have definitely clung to Christianity. They are actually really conservative people which surprised me since they seem to be very easy going.
I can't believe I have been travelling for over 5 months already. This is usually when I would be coming home but I'm only half done!
Now the plan is to spend a couple weeks in Malawi then head to Tanzania. There is a bit of an issue with my overall plan though. I guess since the elections a few months ago Ethiopia is only issuing visas at the airport or the embassy in Canada. Hopefully this is cleared up by the time I get there.
A mantis by my tent