Friday, July 12, 2013

Zambia travelogues

Getting the Zambia diaries out has taken longer than I expected, thanks to the continuous barrage of work that I was submerged in. During the closing phase of my project in Zambia, we were under so much work that I had actually begun to wonder if there would be anything at all to write in them. Fortunately, we got a breather in early march to go to the couple of relatively famous places in Zambia and an opportunity for me to flaunt them here. I will also try to highlight key points of a trip that we took to Lusaka, capital city of Zambia, in December. I will highlight the top places that we went, some of the activities that I will recommend and other such general stuff.

So without further ado, here we go…

Victoria Falls: The biggest attraction of Zambia; 1.7 km long falls at the peak season are a sight second to none. It was an exhilarating feeling to be so close to a thunderous waterfall, so loud that you can’t hear yourself even think. We were so excited to be at the site that we actually went again the next day so that we could enjoy it once more. We almost walked with the flowing water till the point it became the fall. Then there is a point called “Knife Bridge” where the falling water just flows underneath the bridge with the water droplets from this falling water getting caught in an upward draft and then falling like a rain. So, it would seem that the point was in a state of perpetual rainfall. So much so that despite wearing a raincoat, we were soaked to the inners. But the joy of standing defiant at that point is indescribable. In fact, after so many words, I still feel that I haven’t been able to do a justice to the wondrous nature of the falls.

Lion walk: By and far the biggest attraction to me. I love interacting with animals in a way most people would consider maniacal. While in the farm, we got a chance to hold, pat and otherwise interact with three leopards, two lionesses and one lion. And trust me! I milked the most out of it. And the thrill!!! Absolutely incomparable.



Elephant ride: We actually began our day with this ride. An hour long ride on an elephant across wild forest was a great experience. But an even better feeling was feeding them at the end of the trip and getting them to salute you. :)

Microlight: 15 minutes of open single seater plane, flying over the Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe with nothing to secure you to your seat than a flimsy seat belt. It couldn’t get any better than that. Actually there was another option to fly – through a helicopter but our group unanimously decided to go for the former option and have loads more fun. Like everything, a bit steep on price at around 9000 rs. (150 USD) but worth every cent of it!

Kalimba Reptile Park: On of my desire for a long time had been to hold a snake in my hands. Once, some 4 years back when I was in Orissa/India, I got a chance to almost hold a snake in my hands. So when I got a chance to hold a python in Kalimba Reptile Park, my joy knew no bounds. The park had a ton of crocodiles (largest of which they claimed was around 5 meters), several pythons and many other species of snakes.
I had a wondrous opportunity to hold a python the way you only see in movies but never get to do in reality and a smaller domestic brown snake. The smaller snake was so cute and pliable that I almost bought one for home. ALMOST because then I remembered that I will be disowned by my folks if they even realized that I was thinking about such a thing.


Chaminuka Game Reserve, Protea Safari lodge: If you go to Zambia and have a couple of days of spare time, I would strongly suggest that instead of staying in a hotel and then going for a safari ride; you book yourself into one of these two places. These are safari lodges which are situated in the middle of a safari range. This way, you get to have a night time experience of staying in the safari as well several side trips reserved for booked guests such as cheese tasting etc. Not to mention the surreal night time feel of the jungle, while you sip tea in a wooden terrace overlooking a lake where the animals are drinking water. I hope you get the idea!!!

Bungee jumping combo: This particular bungee jumping had 3 options – ‘Famous 111m Bungee Jump’, Bridge Swing & Bridge Slide. With a perpetual fear of dying in a high speed crash with something, I did not participate in this activity. My 3 friends, however, did and I could see how much they enjoyed it. At around 12k rs (USD 200), it was a bit steep but worth every rupee in the adrenaline and excitement it helps generate. And even better part of this was that this was done on a bridge after the falls. Hence there were sufficient water vapors in the air to cause beautiful rainbows with the right amount of sun. And I made my best effort to capture some of that.

Artifact shopping: Zambia has a lot of copper mines. So, one of the artifacts that you can look for are paintings etched, carved on copper plates and sheets. Like all the African nations, there are a lot of neat handicraft items which can be picked from the flea markets such as Wooden figurines, Carved chess sets, Cloth and Papyrus paintings, Tribal masks, Seed paintings etc. 
Being a numismatic, I always cherish a chance to collect coins of the country. With the coins being reintroduced in circulation after couple of years, the older coinage was hard to find. But fortunately, I was able to amass a complete set of Zambia coins. Not only that, I was able to assemble a complete set of Zimbabwe coins as well. And that was a difficult treat as the coins have not been in circulation there for some with current currency reaching up to the denomination of 5 trillion Zimbabwe. In fact, I saw 1 trillion and 5 trillion Zimbabwe notes.

Sunset cruise: To be very honest, this is one thing which I would suggest you skip. But that’s my view. I feel like spending half a day just to watch a sunset is a sheer waste of time; and time which could be wonderfully utilized elsewhere such as going to the falls once more or even one more trip to the safari lodges.

Several adjoining African countries: Zambia shares its border with several other countries like Zimbabwe, Congo etc. It is often a tourist thing to do to take a short trip to the border and crossover a 2-3 hr jaunt across the border. And in the process, if you get couple of good deals on the way; who is complaining, right?



Hope that the descriptions and the sights might have convinced some of you to take the trip at the next possible opportunity. And trust me; you would not end up regretting it.

7 comments:

  1. Great post - enjoyed reading it..

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    1. I am glad that enjoyed it... Do read some of the other ones as well

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  2. Dipti Verma8/07/2013

    Great post Aashish! thorougly enjoyed.

    PS - whats with teh sanke in my snake ;)

    Once, some 4 years back when I was in Orissa/India, I got a chance to almost hold a snake in my snake

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    1. Saw the error now... rectified it!

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    2. By the way... glad that you enjoyed it!

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