Nature Tour Zambia
People here still live in reed huts
In authentic villages people still live in reed huts. The forest changes into savannah, grassland and swamp. The enormously wide Victoria Falls plunge into the only quadripoint in the world, the borders of Zambia, Zimbabe, Botswana and Namibia.
Travelogue: Geja Rijsman
Photos: Geja and Michael Rijsman, Jos Drabbels, Sophia Stein
This morning we arrived by boat, now an SUV takes us to Lusaka. Soon we reach the dam where Lake Kariba plunges into the Zambezi river. At this point is the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Supposedly 16 people are buried in the concrete, because they fell while the concrete was being dumped!
On the way we stop in an authentic Zambian village. Emmy asks the elders of the village if we can take pictures. We can, for a price. People here still live in reed huts. But most children wear western clothes.
By the end of the afternoon we arrive on a camping site where the other SUVs are already waiting for us. After a lot of talk we're on our way again. A pick-up truck leads the way. We expect to spend the night north of Lusaka, but we keep driving. It turns out it's another 60 kilometers to our camping site.
The landscape changes slowly. First it's savannah, but still with many trees. Unfortunately, there's not an animal in sight. After a gorgeous sunset, we leave the main road. For half an hour we bump up and down on an unpaved road.
We camp out on a meadow near a farmhouse at an altitude of 1160 meters. The farmer has provided the spot with a large floodlight and has built showers and toilets with reed screens. Very luxurious.
Fortunately no clouds today. Grasslands have again been set on fire. We hope the wind will drive the smoke away from us, so it won't get between us and the sun when the eclipse happens, the purpose of our trip to Zambia.
We go hiking. It turns out there is a beautiful swamp area behind the camping site. We walk around it on both sides, but unfortunately we can't get around it completely. And then it's time to watch the eclipse.
We find a spot on the lake shore. The farmer takes his cows to the barn before the eclipse begins. It slowly gets dark. Herons fall asleep in trees, the waterlilies close their petals and it gets very quiet.
When the total eclipse begins, there is a lot of oh's and ah's and applause. Quickly everyone removes the filters from their cameras and then it's click-click. Unfortunately the total eclipse lasts only for three and a half minutes, so we don't have much time to enjoy it. I don't see the shadow, but the corona and Baily's beads are gorgeous.
While it got dark very slowly, it gets light again very quickly. When it's completely light, the herons wake up.
Back at the SUV, there is punch, a lot of it, and delicious crackers with crab and tuna salad. The barbecue starts late. Two pigs are roasted on spits. We invite the guys who make sure the showers have hot water to the barbecue. We tell them to finish the leftovers and stay near the fire.
We get wet through and through when we cross a bridge
We leave early. We drive to Lusaka and drive around the city for a while until we find the road we should take. Later we take a break in another relatively big town to get bread and other provisions. There are so many beautiful people here.
Then we keep driving until after 1 PM, when we stop to have lunch on the side of the road. We walk for a while, the SUV will pick us up. It's good to stretch our legs.
After we've been picked up, we arrive after an hour or so in a small village. Michael was just taking a look at the map and concludes we've taken the wrong way. He alerts Emmy and Janni, who just came to the same conclusion.
There aren't many good roads, so we have to turn and drive back all the way to where we took a wrong turn. It's almost 80 kilometers. Many of our travel companians are pissed off, because now they will have to pitch their tents in the dark. They are fed up with driving. We don't mind so much and just enjoy the gorgeous landscape .
After many traffic jams and detours we arrive in Livingstone. The camping site is actually full, but we get a spot. The ground is a little damp, but apart from that, it's fine.
There are signs, warning us for monkeys and alligators, we wonder if those are really here. There are high fences everywhere and on one side the camping ground borders on the Zambezi river.
We leave early to visit Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. First we travel to the Victoria Falls on the Zambian side. The water plunges down over a huge width. The waterfalls are on the only quadripoint in the world: the borders of Zambia, Zimbabe, Botswana and Namibia.
The falls are very impressive and of course we want to see as much of them as possible. We didn't bring rain suits, so we get wet through and through when we cross a bridge. Our cameras are tucked safely under our goretex coats and our pants are already dry again when we get back to the SUV.
On the large bridge near the border, one can make one of the highest bungy jumps in the world. Two men in our group feel like doing that. One of them turns out to be less courageous than he thought, and even though he payed, he eventually doesn't jump. The other one doesn't look down and just plunges. Then we drive to the camping site in the Victoria Falls village.