19.02.2013 - 04.03.2013 30 °C
Leaving Zanzibar with a heavy heart, we headed to Dar-es-Salaam and were happy to see another white sand beach at the campsite to feed our withdrawals. The next night, after heading south through Tanzania, we stayed at a rustic campsite in Iringa where we drank their Amarula hot chocolate specialty. After arriving late, it was a good way to unwind in preparation for the next day’s drive to Malawi.
The next day we crossed over the Malawian border, where we travelled alongside the 3rd largest lake in Africa with the same namesake, or what the locals refer to as Calendar Lake due to it being 365 miles long and 52 miles wide. For the next couple days, we set up camp Chitimba where we were able to relax and swim in this beautiful lake. The days were soon filled with relaxing and a (slightly competitive) football match with the locals (of course Steve’s team won 6-2).
Unfortunately, I started to feel pretty poorly and by night time the sick bug bit again – not the greatest experience when staying in a tent. Whilst I rested up in the baking tent the next day, Steve went to visit the tribal village to meet the locals, explore the hospital and school and visit a tribal witch doctor. The guide had taken a suspicious interest in Steve’s life so he experimented with a fictional life where he was a single guy and fire-fighter, the experiment worked as the witchdoctor started Steve’s reading with “hmmm I can sense that you like to play with fire or work with fire...your family miss you...you will soon meet a girl and get married” – so that took the authenticity out of it!
Feeling almost back to normal, the next stop was Kande Beach and we treated ourselves to a lake beach chalet. It was an upgrade bargain at $10 each! Swimming, sunbathing and playing volleyball in abundance!
After talking to a few people who had already been, it was suggested we book a fishing and snorkelling trip on the lake. With a bit of haggling we managed to book a 9am trip with our favourite Icelanders, Leifur and Berglind. Feeling slightly fragile from the night before, we were taken aback when we were met with a very small wooden boat and some makeshift fishing rods (seriously a couple bamboo sticks with string) for the trip. The fact that our hired guides for the day were scooping out the water from the boat was a little worrying. I don’t think any of us felt comfortable heading out with them, especially for what they were charging us so we started to request a better boat, perhaps one with a motor, or even some life-jackets at least. It was now past 10am and not one of our requests was met with any seriousness. A few disapproving looks here and grunts there, we all decided maybe it was better to pull out all together. Within a few minutes, Steve and Leifur were running up to Berglind and I to share their fantastic idea... we were going to buy some beer and hire a 4 man pedalo. They had even managed to borrow a fishing rod, some snorkelling gear and some life-jackets to boot from one of the local beach guys. Seemed like a fair back up plan to us and it continued to be a good idea, until we made it in the water and realised how strong the current was - in the opposite direction. By sheer grit and determination (sweat, silence and I think I almost saw tears), Steve and Leifur pedalled us all to Kande Island that sat 2-3 km from the shoreline. The weather was looking up, the winds calmer and we were able to swim and snorkel around the island as planned. Of course, it would be too easy if we were to be able to return to shore with no issues, we soon realised that our pedalo was sinking on one side. A few “is it? Isn't it?” moments until it quite obviously was – we waved for help to the speedboat crew back at the island and before long, Berglind and I were climbing into the other boat to be rescued along with the beer and bags. Luckily Jono was diving close by and was able to help the boys push the pedalo from in the water whilst Steve and Leifur continued to pedal the already broken propeller. What an experience...aside from a few aching leg muscles, some pretty serious sun burn (ending in blistering for poor Leifur) and the fact that guy we hired the boat from blamed us for not knowing how to use it! I’m pretty sure we know how to pedal and steer a pedalo! We arrived back in one piece and in time for a team volley ball match (which once again Steve’s team won!) and a very welcomed pig roast.
Next stop Zambia, unfortunately for us; Zambia was mainly for travelling through rather than stopping and exploring. We stayed at a fantastic campsite in Livingstone, the gateway to the Zambian side of World Heritage listed Victoria Falls and headed to the falls that afternoon so that we would get a perspective of both sides. We managed to walk across a suspension bridge rising on the front side of the falls and were beyond drenched by the other side!
Botswana was our next stop for an overnight bush camp in Chobe national park. Chobe has ended up being our favourite of all the parks we have visited. The afternoon we arrived, we headed straight for a river cruise along Chobe River. The surrounding area of the park and river borders with Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The first hour was fruitless on the big game radar except for a few beautiful birds. Before we knew it, we were surrounded by the most elephants we have ever seen. These grey giants were all playing in the water and coming inquisitively close to the boat.
As if we hadn’t been spoilt enough, we moved from the boat to an open safari vehicle to explore the land area of the park. Nothing could have prepared us for spotting four hungry lionesses creeping up on three oblivious warthogs. We sat in anticipation, waiting for the lions to strike for their dinner and as they bolted, so did the pumba’s – would you believe they got away by running through the gap at the front of our vehicle. This left us with 4 hungry and angry Lionesses, prowling around our vehicle, all within a few metres – the tension and the shakes happening in the vehicle at that moment were unreal! As we continued our drive along the waterfront, we spotted a (very sunburnt) dead baby hippo floating in the water and a lion sitting on the shore just waiting for its opportunity to swim in and grab its free dinner, what we didn’t realise was that there was a crocodile waiting for the lion in the water – cue Steve's rendition of 'circle of life'.
That evening, we arrived at our camp that had already been set up for us in the middle of the national park. We have been real bush camping before but this one felt a lot more remote and intimidating. In the final 5 minutes drive we saw a leopard in a tree, try and get that out of your mind when you are lying in your tent trying to sleep, and that’s before you can hear the lions roaring in the distance. So in a situation like that, what is there left to do? Sit around the bonfire and take turns to tell spooky stories of course! After waking up and checking we hadn’t been trampled by elephants, we had one more early morning game drive before heading to find our next adventure in Zimbabwe.
When we made it to Zimbabwe, it was bittersweet as we would be saying goodbye to so many friends as well as changing to a new truck and crew. Friday night became party night to celebrate Izzy, Vicky and Terry’s birthdays and to act as a farewell celebration for us all and we really managed to go out with a bang, Springboks all round! (Peppermint Snapps + Amarula = delicious).
It was so nice to be in one place for 3 nights to have time to explore, relax and manage that hangover. The campsite regularly became home to lots of baboons, and as Steve and I admired how cute they were, one bolted and started chasing us – of course Steve was already miles ahead shouting at me to run faster! We soon found out, after escaping the baboon, that you are supposed to pretend to throw something at them to scare them – lesson learnt! By the Sunday, Steve had booked in to do the half day adrenaline package over Victoria falls gorge, consisting of the Flying Fox, Zip Wire and Gorge Swing, the latter being a 70 metre free fall jump off the gorge cliff – not for me thank you!
We made it back to “Mosi-oa-Tunya” the indigenous name meaning literally "the smoke that thunders", in Zimbabwe which of course did not disappoint. We were then greeted with a perfect double rainbow over the misty thundering waters. It’s spectacular to experience something that you have read about or seen on TV for so long, definitely one of the top 5 highlights so far.
And that was the third leg, with only one more of the tour to go, we can’t believe where the time is going but we also can’t believe all the excitement we still have ahead of us!