Zambian Roadtrip: Driving (and canoeing) around Zambia

samfloy~20 July 2019 /East Africa/East Africa Travel

This week I’ve been in Zambia.

It’s been predominantly holiday: my girlfriend and I seeing a friend from my university before he leaves next month and then exploring parts of the country.

I’m writing this from our stay near Lake Kariba on my phone, so apologies if any typos etc.

Brief geography of Zambia

Zambia is a landlocked country in the South of Africa.

It borders eight other countries which are joint-top for landlocked countries around the world. (Trivia: name the other two (European) countries; name the eight).

The Zambezi River acts as the Eastern and Southern border with neighbouring countries.

Earlier this week Camilla did an overnight canoe trip along the Zambezi which was great. Aside from maneuvering past some hippos and crocodiles, it was incredibly relaxing/ scenic (see pic below).

Side note: hippos
Hippopotamus is ancient Greek for “river horse”. I always found this confusing as they seemed closer to a pig or a cow.

Camping on an island near to several “pods” of hippos though, it seems they do sound like horses, with a chorus of neigh-like noises emerging whenever they get excited.

They’re also rapid. They’ve been recorded running up to ~40 kph which is equivalent to Usain Bolt.

Perhaps these two characteristics led to the African water beast being named as such, despite more bovine appearance…

Initial impressions of Zambia

After arriving in Lusaka we stayed with my friend and drove around the city stopping at a food market, gallery, forest (to walk the dogs) and finally friends’ houses and dinner.

The city itself seems pretty peaceful.

There isn’t any worry about violence when walking the streets at night, and the one time we’ve been stopped by the police his response to us answering that we’ve been in the country for two days was that we should stay longer.

China has a presence. Lots of billboards for Chinese banks/ services, and factories by the roadside. 

There are currently lots of roadworks going on, apparently as a way for the government to spend money ahead of an election.

Lusaka is almost exclusively single-story houses sprawled out over the city. Every ex-pat we’ve met owns a car (in Nairobi less than 10%) though that may be because Uber/ Bolt isn’t present.

Driving around

We hired a car on Monday and are driving to a few spots to the east and south.

After canoeing on the Zambezi we headed down to Siavonga and then across to Choma to visit the family my sister stayed with eight years ago.

The roads so far have been unproblematic. Compared to Kenya it’s been a relative joy to wind through the only occasionally potholed tarmac of Zambia.

There’s a whole host of other things going on in the country which are beyond the scope of this post. That said, from the little we’ve seen, it gets a thumb if people are considering a visit.

In other news…

A question we’ve been pondering this week: if you had to earn a living without any use of a laptop, what would you do?

I’d be interested to hear what you think!

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