Random thoughts from our long weekend in Livingstone

Our mission on this trip is to help the children of Kafue, Zambia. But all work and no play doesn’t result in the most productivity. So when Friday morning arrived, we were aboard a bus to Livingstone, the tourist center of Zambia. Here’s a blow by blow account of our many activities.
The drive from Kafue to Livingstone is about six hours. About an hour into the trip, we encountered a huge traffic jam. Perhaps there was a jackknifed tractor trailer? Because this is Zambia and not Philly, D.C., Boston, or Paris, many travelers simply went off road and onto the dusty roads of Zambia. With about six tons of cargo, we didn’t have that option. Also, try as we might, we couldn’t quite pick up KYW to check the status.
Thankfully, the remainder of the trip proceeded without incident, although Julien’s allotment of questions was already running low.
After checking into our lodge, we walked down the street for lunch. What did we order? Hungry for home, we opted for pizza and burgers.
Next, we headed for a quick look at Victoria Falls, a preview of our more extensive visit planned two days later. The view was spectacular. It was also fun to check out the wild baboons who shared the road with us and helped themselves to snacks from the parked trucks nearby. There were also a few hustlers trying to sell us worthless defunct Zimbabwean currency and bracelets. That prompted a question. Why did the baboon cross the road? To avoid being suckered into a bad sale.
It was about time for happy hour. When in Livingstone, there’s no better place to be than the Royal Livingstone. The resort has a couple zebras grazing near the entrance. Walking through the luxurious lobby, we settled on the spacious deck just as the sun was beginning to set. We ordered a couple rounds of drinks and watched the monkeys bopping around and the sun descending over the Zambezi River. It doesn’t get any better, unless you’re working with the kids from Kafue.

After our pizza and burger lunch, we wanted to have some authentic Zambian dishes for dinner. Our cab driver recommended Armadillos, so Armadillos is where we headed. The joke was on us. They had Indian, Mexican, Jewish, and American food, but there was no sign of Nshima on the menu. Clearly, Armadillos has an identity problem. Was it double as a nightclub? We’re still not sure, although a bored DJ cranked soft rock tunes mixed with techno beats from his laptop, still not drawing any dancers to the floor.

Wakeup came early the next morning. We sought out exotic animals in a Botswana safari. The first part was on the Chobe River and our boat included a second level for those interested in a different view. Crocodiles, hippos and elephants were the stars of the show. Most promising, all of us left with our limbs intact. It was fabulous seeing these animals in their natural habitat and not in zoo. While the animals fed off their environment, we snacked on cookies.

After the boat ride was complete, we had lunch on the deck that overlooked the water. Positively or negatively, depending on your point of view, lunch included some of the very animals we would be viewing on the land part of the safari . Warthog was included in the buffet lunch, and jokes were flying about eating Pumba from Disney’s The Lion King.

Our stomachs full, we climbed on a jeep for the safari’s second stage. We got even better views of what seemed like dozens of elephants. We parked next to a couple of giraffes that were either fighting or flirting. There were also herds of zebra, impalas, and water buffalo. Of course, lions are the main draw. They remained hidden from view entire time as our guide explained there are only 14 in the pride that roams the territory.  Despite the lack of lions, everybody agreed the safari was a phenomenal experience. 

Giving up on our question for genuine Zambian food, we decided to eat at Olga’s, an Italian restaurant run by a non-profit that provides culinary and other vocational opportunities for Zambian vulnerable youth. After dinner, we bought Olga’s handbags, a perfect complement to the pizza, calzone, and pasta we feasted on.

On our final day of holiday, we took off for Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Mosi-O-Tunya, the local name for Victoria Falls, means the water that thunders. The experience is for you if you enjoy unrivaled scenery, magnificent views, and breathtaking nature.  Imagine the world largest urinal, multiply it by a million, and add rainbows, gorges, and bubbling streams. There you have it.

We walked along the rim of the falls and snapped dozens of photos. Then, we hiked to the bottom and watched bungee jumpers leap off the bridge and white water rafters try and negotiate the rapids. We all got our cardio workout for the week on the hike to the top again.

Lunch was meat and vegetable pies at Food Palace. Before our bus departed, we also had time for some shopping and haggling at the craft market.

One of the charms and challenges of Zambia is that things that things don’t always go as planned. Shortly after the bus back to Kafue departed, the driver stopped because the door securing all the luggage hadn’t been closed.