Out of Zambia, towards ‘The Smoke That Thunders’

16 Mar


Lusaka has an unofficial 10pm curfew enforced by bent police. The Lonely Planet reports that locals recommend you ‘stand on your foot’ if you get mugged, which means telling them to get lost (taken with a pinch of salt, obviously). The lack of anything interesting to see, the lack of street food and the high prices all round almost had me moonwalking the f*** out of there on the first day. And were Chip not in town, I would have. Chip had found work in the nation’s capital and was waiting on Zimbabwean and South African visas*. She showed me a decent local line of barbeque restaurants where we had giant steaks. Later on we had a few beers at Lusaka Backpackers and I made tracks the next morning.

My time in Africa is running out – one month left – I took the coach 500km southwest to Livingstone, home of Victoria Falls.


The last of my Zambian Kwatcha was spent on gawping at the Falls in the National Park and drinking in the evening with other tourists. Livingstone is a great little town. Jollyboys is the best backpackers in Zambia. The size and shape of Victoria Falls is another thing altogether.

The Zambian name for Vic Falls is Mosi-oa-Tunya, or ‘The Smoke That Thunders’. 1 million litres per second pours over the kilometer long flat base, freefalls for a few seconds, gets all Zeus like on the rocks below, then goes stampeding down the gorge to escape the onslaught of the following million litres.

The ‘smoke’ from the impacts rises up high above the landscape and drops back down from above as torrential rain. Soaked, facing the falls, the mist can restrict your view to a complete whiteout. Blue skies, baboons, butterflies, rocks, rainforest and rainbows complete the picture. Not having a camera, I tried to sketch the scene from the bridge that borders Zambia and Zimbabwe, but it just looked like a cliche, like a parody of paradise.

Alongside the gawping and getting thoroughly and repeatedly drenched, I also did a tandem gorge swing. $40 to freefall 53m and then swing in the gorge.

The Chipolopolo Boys – the Zambian national football team, winners of the AFCOM cup a couple of weeks ago – came to town. The cup was being paraded triumphantly around in a convoy followed by military guards, and the team were in a hall while all of Livingstone queued patiently to see them.

Really enjoyed Livingstone as a town. Next stop Zimbabwe.

* Recently denied, I think she’s still there trying to convince them otherwise.


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