"Zambia". The name of the country alone has a ring to it. "Zambia" sounds wild. "Zambia" promises off-the-beaten-track-adventures. "Zambia" is a place not many tourists know of. - We couldn't hardly wait to cross the border from Namibia and explore this promised land!
From the border post at Katima Mulilo we headed up North along the banks of the mighty Zambezi river. Naturally, we stopped for a chance to catch some Tiger-fish and went out on an early-morning cruise, the water flowing gently down the massive river, almost as smooth as silk.
Little Vic Falls...
The main attraction that leads people into Zambia are of course the famous "Victoria Falls" near Livingstone. However, if you're trying to get away from the crowds, in the very West of the country lies a very beautiful alternative, hidden in the middle of nowhere: Ngonye Falls. Just after an easy walk from the visitor's centre, we soon heard the water rushing down the falls and enjoyed a chilled morning at the falls. The beauty about this compared to Vic Falls? - There was absolutely nobody else.
From Ngonye we headed up further North to Liuwa Plains. Situated on the upper Zambezi floodplains of Western Zambia, the plains are home to the second largest wildebeest migration in Africa, as well as to the famous "Lady Liuwa" - the last lioness from the renowned documentary. Isolated by a scourge of illegal trophy hunting that wiped out the rest of her species in the region, Lady Liuwa was the only known resident lion surviving on the plains next to a massive population of hyaenas. Almost ten years after the documentary was filmed, there are now five lions roaming the plains.
We got to Liuwa during the wrong time of year and were a bit worried at first if we would see anything at all. But it turned out we got very lucky with sightings of wildebeest and Zebra, we also spend a late afternoon at a hyaena den and although they had told us, the lions of Liuwa were very hard to find, totally by chance we bumped into two of Ladys family members as well!
So after spending three days on the plains, we find that Liuwa is worth a visit - no matter the season!
Kafue National Park
We finished off our first week in Zambia with a bang! Kafue National Park is a truly wild place. Massive in size (...you could roughly fit in the whole country of Wales!), Kafue National Park is a stunning place to go out and explore. We spend three nights in the park in different lodges and watched some spectacular sunsets and had some amazing sightings!
Our highlight of Kaufe was certainly one early morning in the far North of the park, at "Busanga Plains": We were planning on accompanying three French photographers who wanted to see what Kafue has to offer from a hot air balloon - our plan was to film them set off. But we didn't get far...
Our camp was separated from the game vehicle by a rather long boardwalk (about 50 meters). As we woke up that morning we had heard the lions roaring close-by, but little did we know that they were walking down just on the very boardwalk we had to take to get to the car! It was a very early morning and the sun hadn't even come up, so approaching the whole pride of Busanga lions was a rather daunting thought. But the French guys had to make it in time for their balloon, so we made a few brave steps towards the lions - only to hear them roaring seconds later... We stopped and watched them in the light of our torches and discovered that the big male and one of the females were in fact mating! What an awesome sight to have and what a way to start our day! Yet, it was too dangerous to approach any further, so we made our retreat and watched them from the far. We found them again later though and spend the whole morning with the pride, stalking some lech-we antelope, playing with each other and contemplating whether or not to get into a fight with a hippo...
We are now in Lusaka, Zambias capital, for a much-needed restock on fuel and food and also, after over 13.000 kilometres on the road, our trusty Hilux needs a bit of a spa-treatment before we hit the road again tomorrow!