Zambia is indeed a tranquil country and I found most of its citizens to be very soft spoken. My main driving force to go to Zambia was to see the Victoria Falls but I am happy that Zambia decided to show more of itself to us, as the Victoria Falls were not showing off at all. My main highlights were:
1) Riding the Tazara Train
We rode the famous Tazara train from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. The train we used was new, it was comfortable and gave us some of the best ride and scenery experience. We went through dark tunnels, listened to the train chug, made friends and observed beautiful changing landscapes enroute. This ride took us two nights and three days and it is a ride I highly recommend to everyone-You Must.
If you are riding the whole Dar-es-Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi, I highly recommend you take first class as you get private rooms/booths where you can sleep and relax better. At Nkonde which is the border town between Tanzania and Zambia, I was impressed that the Immigration Officers attended to everyone while inside the train as it was night-time. Ensure you change some money here from the money changers because immediately it crosses over, services in the train are charged in Zambian Kwacha.
2) Visit the Victoria falls in Livingstone
Livingstone is a small town best known as a holiday destination due to being home to Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls is locally known as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” in the Kololo language, which means “Smoke that thunders “.The Victoria falls is on the Zambezi river and is located in both Zambia and Zimbabwe due to being on the border. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is known as the World’s largest waterfall due to having a combined width of 1708 m and the longest sheet of falling water due to its height of 108m. When we visited there was no “Smoke that thunders”, no vibrant Victoria Falls, just the rocks of the Batoko Gorge, which is where the falls normally drop into, showing off. I found myself enjoying to look at the rocks, seeing the areas with the highest effects of erosion courtesy of the falls and seeing the hidden beauty in the Batoko Gorge. Make sure to research when there have been rains and thus best to see the “Smoke that Thunders.”
It was however quite strange, mystical even, to observe gushes of water, hear “The Smoke that Thunders”, in the yonder, the Zimbabwean side-do you see it ? strange I tell you. We thus had to proceed into Zimbabwe, to sample their version of the waterfalls.
3) Get the Zimbabwean Pass
Zambia and Zimbabwe share the Victoria falls and are separated/ joined by a bridge from which various adrenaline sports like bungee jumping and zipline are done. For those planning not to proceed into Zimbabwe, yet would like to walk the bridge, enjoy the view and enjoy or watch others patake the adrenaline sports, get a free pass document from the Immigration office.
4) Friendships created
In the train, we made friends with some ladies who thereafter invited us to their home, an introduction to the hospitality of Zambians. We then met a lady, Petronilla in the bus from New Kapiri Mposhi to Lusaka and she ensured we goot to our accommodation safely and thereafter became a great friend and guide. These friendships enable one to integrate and learn more about a place, her people and their traditions.
5.Visit the local market
In Zambia, several insects including large Mopani caterpillars, locally known as “ifishimu/ifinkubala are a popular delicacy and are in high demand in the market. They are mainly dried, fried or roasted and I was informed they are quite tasty. I however cannot confirm this as of now as I was unable to convince myself to sample- maybe next time.
6)Get an aerial view of Lusaka:
We took a bus from New Kapiri Mposhi to the capital Lusaka, covering about 200km in 5hours. Their roads are in good condition and the buses are also quite comfortable. Lusaka is generally a small town with the tallest building being Fidenco House which has 23 floors. We opted to visit this building to get an aerial view of the town and truly, it was quite a sight.
7) Learning their culture
You will easily note that when a young person is greeting an older person, they slightly bend their knee and have their one hand holding onto the wrist of the other, as a sign of respect. I also noted that when men greeted me, they would shake my hand with one hand and place the other hand over their heart-a sign of respect.
There is a variety of accommodation options across the country, for all pockets and tastes. I was however quite impressed by how having a swimming pool seemed like a bare necessity, even for basic accommodations like backpackers.
Zambia is indeed an amazing country filled with very calm, warm people. The hospitality of the people and their soft spoken nature, truly stood out. I truly enjoyed the towns I visited, New Kapiri Mposhi, Lusaka and Livingstone and would highly recommend them to everyone to explore. There is still so much more to see and do in Zambia and thus, I will have to return. #ExposingBeautifulAfrica.
For more on Zambia check out : http://wangechigitahi.co.ke/zambia-101/