The Lower Zambezi

The Zambezi River is the river that brings the water from the Congo over Victoria Falls and into the Indian Ocean. It is the fourth longest river in the Africa and passes through six countries. The Lower Zambezi is the term for the last 650 miles of the Zambezi River, after Victoria Falls, which ultimately ends up at the ocean. This area is beautiful.
A few days ago, I was talking with a friend, Martin, who mentioned that there was a ‘short cut’ to the lower Zambezi. Normally, the route takes 5-7 hours from Lusaka or, if you are adventurous, there is a short cut over hills, rocks, and mountains, which gets you there in about half the time. Martin had some friends’ who tried it last week and ended up needing to winch themselves out of a few tough situations. When Martin mentioned the idea of trying the short cut, I first thought ‘hell yes’ and then thought,we won’t need a winch to get through it’. Old time jeep guiding ego kicked in! 
So, today’s adventure started off in the early morning. I arrived at Martin’s hours and we loaded up supplies (ex. beer) and equipment (ex. shovel) on his Land Cruise and off we went. The short cut road to Lower Zambezi is not far from our house and it’s a straight shot, kinda.
The road starts off like many other roads in Zambia, first a little dirt, then old pavement road, and then to a newer paved road and then back to a dirt path. Rumor has it that they may pave the road all the way to the Lower Zambezi but we will see. The path over the mountain was only as wide as the car and had many switch backs, washouts, off camber, axel twisting fun! Nate, you would have loved it. Some of the most fun wheeling I have done in a long time.
About 15 minutes into the drive on the path over the mountain, we stopped next to my first baobab tree (also referred to the Tree of Life). OMG! These trees are beautiful. The size alone is breathtaking. A man who lives close by came over to see if we needed help. We told him that we were just admiring the tree. There was also an old church nearby that caught our eye and he said that it is still used every Sunday. What a view they have of the baobab! We said our goodbyes and, as a sense of appreciation, shared two apples with him and a roll of toilet paper. What seems to be such a small gesture by our standards is so welcomed and appreciated. We started driving again, headed through small villages, and the kids were running out to the path to greet us and yell, “Hello, how are you?” A simple wave or thumbs up makes them smile ear to ear. We saw goats, chickens, cows, and pigs just milling about as well as people walking the path. Too bad for the walkers as we were going in the opposite direction. Picking up hitch hikers is common and I have already given a few rides. When you are this far out, people really need a ride or they will be walking for days. If I ever need a ride, I can only hope to get picked up. We got to some pretty good hill climbs and a few water crossings and only got held up once on a big rock that we got high centered on. After that, it was my turn to drive. Hot damn! We are just getting to the top so I got to take it all the way down. Definitely some fun was had. A lot of loose rock, some more river crossings, and more switchbacks than I can say.
We get to the bottom of the mountain and finally back on graded dirt. Martin took over driving and we headed towards a lodge on the river called Kiambi Lodge. What a nice place. We ordered some beers and a couple cheese burgers and walked around the property. They were trying to nurse a 3 week old hippo back to health after he lost his mother. Fingers crossed for the little guy. After lunch, we hired a boat and a guide to show us around a little. I learned from my experience getting lost at Jurassic Park—don’t turn down the offer of a guide!  I really wanted to see some hippos. Well, the guide didn’t disappoint. I saw more hippos than I could have ever imagined. I couldn’t get over their size. We also saw birds of all sizes and colors. I got a picture of some bee eaters. The picture isn’t great but it was crazy to see them all perched on a branch.
Will S, you need to look up bird watching for when you come out.
Vo, I finally threw a line. I didn’t catch anything but I broke my dry streak. You need to check out the fishing around here, world class, my friend.
When it was time to leave, Martin started out driving back on the dirt roads and a good 20 minutes in, we picked up a walker who needed a ride to the next village. What would have taken him hours to walk up the hill, we did in 15 minutes. He was very happy. We dropped him off and switched drivers and I was back in the saddle. The reverse trip was even more fun and challenging. Kinda funny how that is some times.
We only ran into a couple of spots that needed a little onion/pedal to get through but the views were amazing. Once again, the kids were running out to say hi (which I just can’t get enough of). What a great day trip. Eight hours of great company along with some wheeling and views that pictures just don’t do justice. Not a bad Tuesday for sure.

The Lower Zambezi

5 thoughts on “The Lower Zambezi

  1. intlgranolagirl says:

    “Don’t be encouraging this bee eating birds” says this apiarist! Haha. I want to see you jump off that bridge, dodge a hippo and ride a rhino! C’mon John, where is your sense of adventure?!? 😋 Wish I had time and Monday to come visit you on some of these adventures. I’d take your man and for sure! Haha. Miss you man. Great to read these posts though

    Liked by 1 person

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