L: We were up and out of the tent by 6 am and thankfully, we had been warmer. Coffee and biscuits and a trickly, warm shower got us going. While we were drinking our coffee on the river bank, Steve saw something move…….not one, but two, three, four ……….eight beautiful little Blue-Cheeked Bee-Eaters sitting on one reed, thawing in the sunlight!! What a find. We took some “award-winning” photos and watched them for a good half an hour, even calling our fellow campers to see. At the same time, we pointed out the two huge hippo footprints, yes, a mere 20 meters from our car……..no, it was not Lesley’s wild imagination after all. Ugh.
S: Vincent and Ria, camping next to us, are on holiday from Belgium. We had a lovely chat and heard that they had spent 5 years in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Back on the road for us ………We first stopped in Katima Mulilo to do some chores.
L: I was so excited to find a very reasonably priced pair of aqua-shoes at Tekkie Town and found the assistant, Marietta to be very helpful. Same shop as in Rundu, but such a wider range of shoes. I had by now been to 4 different shops looking for a down duvet. We were thinking that we would only need warmer bedding by the time we got to Europe, but were tired of trying to stay warm in temperatures as low as 3 degrees Celsius. No down duvets to be had, I settled for a hollow-fibre duvet inner at a Jet stores so that we have 2 duvets, 2 little sleeping bags and 2 little fleecy blankets. That should do!
Marietta from Tekkie Town suggested the Baobab Bistro for a snack. We parked the bakkie where we could see it from our table and managed to send all the postings we had done up to now. It was really nice having a decent connection and being able to use a mouse. L: And a cappuccino and a lovely veggie wrap.
S: Then we were off to refuel and fill the jerry cans as diesel is R3 more expensive a liter in Zambia. (ZMW10.01 per liter). Getting out of Namibia was a breeze, however getting into Zambia was a pain and a lesson in extortion. Now remember the Zambian Kwacha is about 1.6 Rand. So it was ZMK 150 for carbon emissions tax (dependent on size of engine, 2800 in our case),
ZMK 183 for insurance, USD 20 for road tax, ZMK 30 for council tax. The pain in the butt was I had to wait for at least an hour for the road tax dude as he had gone to the bank to deposit his takings and there was no one else to do his job. Lesley was not happy about me buying the insurance as we have a document from our insurance stating that we are covered in Zambia, but after chatting to one of the guys coming through he advised us that due to the many road blocks it was likely we would be fined if we did not have the local one.
The good thing about the border post is that you can avoid all the money changers and use the ATM at the bank to draw kwachas as that is what you need to pay in, except for the road tax. Speaking of road tax, I do not know what the money is used for as the road out of the border post is not a road, it is a “hole” factory!! There are more holes than road and the trick was to use the little pilot-fish in the form of a taxi as they know where the sweet spot is in the road. It was exhausting and being constantly vigilant as the oncoming traffic veer to our side for the good bits of tar too. It took us over an hour to do the first 110 kms and after that, thankfully, things improved. So a summary : first 110 kms chaos, next 50 kms a patched road with occasional potholes, last 40kms brand new road.
L: The sun was setting by the time we reached Livinstone (and we are back on South African time here too). Now to find a campsite. Steve had ear-marked Maramba River Lodge campsite and that proved a good place to book for 2 nights at only US$10 per person per night with free WiFi.
We managed to message the girls to say where we were and caught up on some of the admin etc.
We had decided not to braai, but just to make something for supper on gas. Steve mentioned that there was an Ocean Basket, and that was it…….sushi!!! Oh how I have missed you. Supper was amazing and as we sat outside in the fresh air, I realised how incredibly tired I was.
After setting up the rooftop tent with the extra duvet and Steve escorting me to the bathroom (double protection from the hippos), I was asleep and warm in no time. Aaaaaaah.
S: Yes, we were much warmer last night.
After a quick breakfast we popped off to see the falls which is about 4 kms from where we are staying.
At the border post after dodging baboons, of which there were quite a few, and the car-guards and the money-changers (people offering to convert your currency for you), we managed to park the car and then ran the gauntlet of people trying to sell us curios e.g. bracelet, wooden hippos, crocodiles etc.
We got to the Zambian Immigration desk to get our gate pass which consisted of a piece of paper with a date stamp and the no. 2 for two people to enable us to walk onto the bridge to see Victoria Falls.
L: There was so much spray, a whole cloud of it, that you cannot actually see the falls from the Zambian side. Luckily we had already seen the falls from Zimbabwe on a previous trip. It was lovely just being on the bridge over the huge gorge with the Zambezi River raging underneath us. We passed where the bungee-jumping is done and no, that is not for us…..
After a little while on the bridge we climbed up the stairs to the Bridge Cafe for a coffee and egg and bacon roll. We saw an American family who were keen to jump and so watched them and took a few fast-speed photos of their descents!! Still not tempted to try……
S: Getting back into Zambia we had to queue at the immigration desk again and just ask for a gate pass to get back in. No passport needed. We must look like tourists. We wanted to go into a park on the Zambian side to see the falls from there, but at a cost of $20 per person we decided it was not worth it as there is so much spray you are not likely to see much. We stopped off along the side of the road at a little picnic site, but you can only see the river and spray.
L: We did a little shopping in Livingstone and then returned to the campsite for bananas and yoghurt from our shopping as lunch, the things you miss, ha ha. We also bought a Zambian MTN SIM card and some data and airtime for along the way. Seems our audience is rather demanding regarding regular posting of our blog and we cannot rely on free wi-fi or any wi-fi going north and east. 🙂
As we are sitting in the open-air lounge area to get access to Wi-Fi there is a huge crocodile lazily swimming in the pond below us. There is also a little one sunning itself on a tree trunk. As long as he and his friends and the hippos, that we heard last night stay there – I will be happy……