Victoria Falls, and free-roaming lions in Botswana

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Entering Zambia
Entering Zambia

We left Malawi and entered Zambia through the Mchinji border crossing on the 21st of July, and then made a stop in Chipata, the capital of the Eastern Province of Zambia. The city boasts fancy hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls, and an abundance of banks and ATM machines. This was quite a contrast to where we just came from. It is an observation we made throughout our journey, that things suddenly and often surprisingly change as one crosses borders.

Luangwa River, Zambia
Luangwa River, Zambia

From Chipata, we rode southwest, towards Lusaka. On the way, we found a new friend in Noah, a Zambian boy who lives near the Luangwa Bridge with his family. He asked to have his picture taken on my motorbike. I would love to send him a copy and just generally get in touch. If anybody is reading this who lives or knows people in Luangwa, I would be grateful to hear from you.

In Lusaka, the capital of Zambia and home to about two million people, we stayed with our friend Faith and her children. Faith introduced us to Lusaka’s vibrant nightlife and was overall a wonderful host. Like Noah, her sons were fascinated by the motorbike. They grabbed our helmets and refused to take them off until I gave each of them a ride around the neighborhood. Faith needed a little convincing, before she also hopped on.

The next highlight was Victoria Falls, located on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The waterfall is roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls, and much less commercialized, making for a great and truly awe-inspiring experience. To get one of the best views of the falls, stand in the middle of the Knife Edge bridge. It takes a bit of courage to step onto the narrow pedestrian bridge 90 meters above a gorge, and you will be drenched in water, but it is well worth it.

Less than 80 kilometers to the west of the falls, we crossed the 400-meter-wide Zambezi River into Botswana, using the Kazungula ferry. We then rode south through the Kalahari Basin in northeastern Botswana, where elephants and lions roam freely, as is the case in most of the country. A Botswanan, concerned about the lions, offered to load our motorbike onto his pickup truck and take us to the next city. We declined. Luckily, we did not meet any lions. We did encounter an elephant though, standing in the middle of the highway, not in the least bothered by our presence.

Once one of the poorest countries in the world, Botswana is now one of the countries in Africa with the highest per capita GDP. For us, that meant the end of cheap accommodation. We spent our first night in in Nata, and the second one in Mahalapye, spending about twenty times as much for a room as we had spent in other countries along the way.

Still being behind schedule due to our accident in Tanzania, we could not spent much time in Botswana, and did not see nearly as much of the country as we would have liked to see. I hope to get a chance to go back someday.

Part 1: From Germany to South Africa: The journey begins
Part 2: A millennium of Islamic scholarship, and a revolution yet to be completed
Part 3: Stories of a time long gone, and Egyptian khichuri
Part 4: An oasis of hospitality in the searing heat of the Nubian Desert
Part 5: The Simien Mountains, and the first hijra in Islam
Part 6: Stranded in the Kenyan desert, and a visit to the land of the Maasai
Part 7: “Welcome to Africa!”
Part 8: Victoria Falls, and free-roaming lions in Botswana
Part 9: South Africa: The Rainbow Nation
Summary: My Germany to South Africa Motorcycle Expedition 2011