Livingstone —> Kabuyu —> Kalomo —> Monze —> Lubombo —> Lusaka
Total speedometer mileage: 284 miles
Average milage/day: 56.8 miles
Average spend/day: $17.5pp (not including “Devil’s Pool” tour)
Day 1: Patricia and Yab’s wedding will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of our trip! They couldn’t have picked a more picturesque destination. On our last day in Victoria Falls, and our first day of cycling, we biked over to the Royal Livingstone Hotel for the “Devil’s Pool” tour to swim in a natural pool on the edge of Victoria Falls. We felt completely high on life and awestruck by the power of the falls, as the spray hit our faces and little fish tickled our toes. After the tour, we loaded up and set out by 1:30pm. The road out of Livingstone is smooth pavement with a wide shoulder and relatively little traffic. The scenery stayed mostly the same – undulating hills and views of “the bush”. After a couple hours of cycling, we started to wonder if finding water would be an issue. We asked at a local village and they were kind enough to give us a buckets worth, which we filtered. We wanted to offer something in return, but the head man insisted water should be free to all. He offered to let us camp in their village, but since we wanted to get some more cycling in, he suggested another village with a primary school that may be accommodating. We ended up cycling 34 miles by the time we came to the school (2km of dirt/sand off the pavement). The head teacher, Joseph, was very welcoming and insisted we use their electricity and set up our tent in a classroom. We were the third cyclists to ever take refuge with him. In response to the condition of the property, he explained their school (serving 400+ pupils) was built in the 1970’s and is in need of maintenance. They get their funding from the community – so they don’t receive money if the community doesn’t have any – feeding the cycle of poverty. They recently received $900 to build new toilets for the girls to give them more privacy, encouraging them to stay at school.
Day 2: After leaving a bag of pens (thanks Sydney!) and thank you note for Joseph, we started out at 9:15am. We felt strong as we pumped out the miles, and relished downhill and flat stretches that let us get up to 17-20mph. The biggest lesson of the day was how abundant and affordable local produce is: 1 cabbage or 1 bag of carrots = 60cents, 1 onion = 10cents, 1 apple = 25cents. We spent $10 in total for the day, and this also included refrigerated drinks. We cycled 58 miles in total and decided to ask to camp at another primary school. Wild camping in the bush is not recommended by the locals, and primary schools usually have running water and toilets so it becomes a no-brainer. This school did not have teachers on the property, but a local told us how to track down the groundskeeper, Morson. Morson assured us he would be watching the property all evening to protect us, and we shared our dinner with him to show our appreciation. He was the most agreeable person we’ve ever met – anything we asked or said to him he would reply “yes” which is how he ended up sharing our breakfast as well. Coffee? Yes. Milk? Yes. Sugar? Yes. What is your favorite food Morson? Yes.
Day 3: Morson kindly pumped water for us in the morning and showed us back to the road. We cycled into Chome, which had a very nice rest-stop. We couldn’t resist the chicken shawarma. While we waited for our order, we met a very friendly local, Troy, who shared stories of his own travels. He warned against camping near Batoka and offered to drive us outside of town to a nice campsite. We didn’t want to “cheat”, but also wanted to head his advice, so we took him up on his offer when he passed us later on the road. It was an interesting perspective shift seeing the road by vehicle – it looked much more dangerous – especially with vehicles narrowly overtaking each other. After 50 miles of driving and conversing, Troy dropped us off at Moorings campsite. We were happy to pay the $16 for proper showers and use of their kitchen.
Day 4: Before setting off from Moorings campsite, the owner warned us of terrible road conditions from Mazabuka to Kafue. Apparently, the large trucks/semis/lorries swerve to avoid potholes and have been causing more and more accidents daily. He strongly urged us to take an alternative road that runs parallel to the main highway and even recommended a school to camp at. The road he suggested wasn’t on our map, so he drew us a surprisingly accurate one! We were grateful to get some respite from the traffic and take in new scenery – sugarcane plantations and local ranches – until the road turned to dirt washboard lasting a full hour. It’s hard to articulate how jolting constant bumps are on a steel bike to your wrists, shoulders, and neck. It was sweet relief to finally make it to the school. The head teacher, Owen, generously gave us the keys to the classrooms and bathroom and informed us of a guard on the property – “you will be protected” he said. This school was only three years old, opened to serve the families of a new Nickel mine in the area. It was quickly evident how abundant their recourses were. We felt worlds away from the schools we had slept in days ago.
Day 5: Two words – accumulative fatigue. If we thought the end of yesterday was hard, today managed to top it. Every mile was hard-earned. After an hour and a half of washboard dirt road to get back to pavement, we conquered a couple climbs only to discover a bolt on Simon’s back-rack had shaken loose. The whole rack slipped over the tire! The replacement bolt wasn’t the correct size and ended up snapping in half – time for the zip-ties to shine! The road got progressively busier and people seemed less inclined to wave the closer we got to Lusaka, but we finally made it to Eureka campsite on the outskirts. We were pleasantly surprised by the wildlife on the property and relieved to be done with this stretch of the tour. We’ve earned a few rest days in Lusaka!
Zambia may have 50+ tribal languages but a smile and a wave are universal 🙂