So after nearly not getting a ticket I made it on the train from Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania) to Kipiri Mposhi (frontier town in Zambia where Clint Eastwood would be at ease) called the Kilimanjaro Express - it took over 2 days so don't read into the "Express" part. Over 48 hours on a Chinese train built in late 70's (so aged carriage stock) to move copper (3rd largest global mine) from Zambia to the coast for export - "land locked Chippy".
In my carriage was Michael Duncan lookalike (big bloke from The Green Mile). Knew a little English but he was essentially the Del Boy of Tanzania...sells umbrellas in Africa! Met some other cool travellers and shared a few beers watching the sun go down over the stunning savannah plains of Tanzania...Zambia was not as attractive from the train by still nice. Food was even delivered to our first class cabin...you know I only do it in style!! Choice every meal was Fried chicken wing with rice or chips. Note this was the only offering for 48 hours so mixture of that and dodgy toilets meant I didn't eat much!
Although was not on time the nice part compared to bus is chilling watching the world go by without being crammed in like sardines. Like all stations in Africa they are a melting pot of people and tradesman/women. Chelsea shirts and beanies appear to be most popular...what can I say they have good tastes!! The best was this guy carrying a suitcase, football, iron, kettle, pants, toothpaste, beanies, torch, screwdriver...and more! He sold the briefcase as you asked. Like true traveller style a smile and a wave out the window gets a good response from the villages...with the occasional kiss blown...well at least I think was for me!!
Now for the murder part...Well I was kindly looked after by these 2 Zambian sisters in the same carriage as me (who had just bought 8 tonnes of towels from Dubai!). These ladies (Ruth and sister) would give Poirot a run for his money! The train in Zambia suddenly came to a halt...within a minute word was out the train had run over somebody. Within 5 mins the ladies said he was drunk on homemade spirits and released from prison 2 days earlier for robbery. Within 30 mins the body was a plant and not run over by the train as the blood was dry and would have been killed/murdered within last 24 hours...this deduction and knowledge by Ruth was known without even leaving the train!! It was weird seeing the passengers jumping off the train for a look and the locals were glad to have camera phones to show their friends!
When got to Lusaka was first time in 2 weeks of listening to music whilst travelling as sat alone which is refreshing...just shows you the characters you meet along the way. Also noticed that John Lewis started international deliveries...in Lusaka was a green van with JL logos!! In Livingstone spent first time in dorm where I surprisingly managed to sleep 9 hours. Hostel has the usual traveller weapons but nice crowd and just nice to stay in one place for a few days.
As my first falls to visit they are very impressive...hope to tick off Igauzu and Angel next year so at least can compare. No visit to the falls would be without a visit to the colonial post Victoria Falls Hotel...high tea no less so brushed off the red jeans and collar and being a traveller had to make sure I ate my body weight in sandwiches and cakes...top tip courtesy of Tamsin to maximise eating capacity is a decent brunch!!
Also did a 2 day trip with Kalahari Tours to Chobe National Park in Botswana. WOW I have never seen so many elephants in one place...on the final day we saw around 300 elephants drinking by the river. Luckily we didnt have too many close encounters with the big cats.
Also a visit to the actual falls would not be complete without actually swimming in Devils Pools overlooking the falls and then breakfast on Livingstone Island just like Sir David over 150 years ago! Quite a thrill but luckily i tipped the guy enough to hold on tight...more than my mates clubbed together not to hold on tight!!
Livingstone and Vic Falls area is known as the adventure capital of Africa...I can see why!
So having completed the main chunk of Africa...SA doesn't count as westernised and Madagascar will be off the scale (currently has bubonic plague to deal with!) I would have to say Zambia appears to be the nicest. Think it helps their official language is English but also the infrastructure is good. More importantly the people are really friendly and happy to chat. Was on a bus and borrowed the local paper from a chap next to me...turned out he was an ex-EY auditor (trying to run away from them!) who jacked it all in and became a tennis coach - his passion! An inspiration to follow his dream and maybe me taking a year off is a part of this. We then starting talking football and sport which as my mates will know was a quick conversation!! Pub quiz knowledge...Zambia top sport is amateur boxing!! Also met some doctors and witch doctors who gave an insight into Zambian life plus the usual taxi driver who told you his life story and miss-givings of Zambia.