I recently wrote the following as an email to a friend who inquired about coming for a visit–if you’ve got plans for a trip to Africa there’s plenty to do in and around Zambia:
Number one, it’s an absolutely great idea to come down here for a visit and to see the sights. Zambia’s got lots to offer, and so do the neighbouring countries. What could you get up to down here?
Stay out in a village. We know plenty of cool farmers in Southern Province that take in visitors all the time. Doing a village stay is almost a must if you come all this way: you just get out there in the open air and start night and can’t think of anything better. Yes, life ain’t easy as a small Zambian farmer, but there’s lots of goodness to it too.
Go to Victoria Falls. So much to do here: rafting (did it, twice), bungee jumping (never did it, never want to do it), micro-light flights over the Falls (Thul’s done it), sun-downers at the Royal Livingstone hotel, and a dozen other fun and interesting things. I’ve been there at least 10 times and every time is a good one. Plus, if you’re keen to go around March/April you have a great chance to see a moon-bow, like a rainbow, but from the moon (duh) and the mist from the Falls. It only happens at the end of the rainy season (when you’d be coming) so you could probably time it nicely. I’ve never seen it. :(
Zimbabwe, in Harare, has a great arts scene in the Book Cafe and the Mannenberg. I read somewhere it might be closing, but even if that were true it could only be at its current location–after 30 years of non-stop music, art, poetry and everything else I’m sure it’d reopen soon somewhere else.
For romantic, nostalgic, semi-white-supremacist (not really, but yeah old-school settler types) a stay in Bulawayo at an old manor house is something else. We were there with my parents a couple years ago for Christmas and the beauty and kindness were unsurpassed. More or less I think all the Ian Smith type racists are long gone and just the hard-luck and warm-hearted folks who are determined to tough it out stayed put. So plenty of lovely people, and a gorgeous setting with hints of odd historicity (is that even a word?).
I’ve been to Botswana twice to its Chobe park. Very close to Victoria Falls and very full of animals. The park is along a river, too, the Chobe River, which makes it a bit unique when it comes to parks.
Thul’s been to Namibia sand boarding and seeing some remarkably rugged and other-wordly landscapes. She’s said she’d take me, but hasn’t. :|
I used to live in Malawi, which was great, but don’t go there. The current president is a total moron, he’s running the country into the ground, and you’re more likely to get hustled for whatever incredibly scarce for-ex you might be carrying. All for a bit of lake time. Pfff.
We’ve always talked about taking a flight to DRC and dancing rhumba the entire weekend until exhausted we land back on a plane and fly home to Zambia. But now with all this election violence, hmm, well, maybe not for a bit. We’ll take you rhumba dancing in Lusaka or Livingstone, though, for sure.
I did just go to Zambia’s northern province, up on the Tanzanian border, last week for work. Loooong drive. But there’s a waterfall there that’s twice as tall as Vic Falls. It was amazing. Still, the drive was loooong. If you had a car and some time there are a lot of interesting stops along the way, however. You could make a great road trip of it.
South Africa’s got a lot to do, and our direct manager, Brad, has a house down in Durban that maybe we could all trundle off to for a weekend. Maybe. You never know with these family things; he has invited us a half-dozen times already. Lots of people love going to Cape Town and the surrounding wine and cheese country. I mean a wine and cheese country–for white honkeys that sounds more or less magical. Especially after the somewhat less than gourmet cuisine of Zambia. You might not need such a gastronomical fix, though.
And we have been to Tanzania: Dar for a bit, a game park in the south, and Zanzibar. Now the thing is that I’m not a huge beach person (you might have guess from my less than bronzed complexion) so I can’t sing too many praises of beach life, but Stone Town was full of gems and snorkeling and 100-year-old tortoises made up for any complaining I did along the way.
Nairobi’s seems like a fun place. We were there for maybe a week and liked it a lot. Didn’t really get into it, but plenty cosmopolitan if only the traffic wasn’t so completely nuts.
Finally, we were in Rwanda last Easter. A friend was working there (now she’s home in Ontario) and we stayed with her, but for an adventure we climbed up a volcano (dormant) right along the Uganda/DRC borders. On the way down we came across a group of 6 or 7 silverback gorillas. This wasn’t the tourist group you pay $500 to go see (we’re way too cheap for that) this was the wild group, and I swear out of everything I’ve seen before nothing compares to a full grown male silverback less than 10 feet away. Incredible. With a little luck you might be able to replicate the experience.
Hope something here interest you.