African shoestrings – Zambia Day Eighty Three Livingstone
We were now into the final day of the Audi tour and the final trip was from Kasane to Livingstone. Somehow five of us, plus Chris and our bags, managed to squeeze into an old beaten up left hand drive Nissan Sunny and drive to Kazungula where we crossed the Zambezi by ferry into Zambia. After the usual slow border control process we were met fortunately by one of Chris’s offsiders in a minibus that was able to take our bags. We mere humans continued on in the luxury Nissan along 60 kilometres of what we presumed was once upon a time a flat bitumen road surface that had now been reduced to an ‘African’ track of potholes punctuated by the odd short stretch of almost smooth bitumen.
Our final destination was the quaintly and considering Chris was one of the owners, appropriately named Fawlty Towers backpackers in Livingstone. Actually it’s one of the better backpackers we had seen so far. It was like a mini resort without the poolside cocktail bar. A big private courtyard with a swimming pool was at the centre with most of the accommodation and functional rooms fronting it. A little of oasis of western culture in the heart of a very African town, somehow I felt that it had been designed to keep the residents away from the inquisitive locals.
Actually Livingstone itself was quite a nice place. Its located 11 kilometres from Victoria falls itself as distinct from the Victoria Falls the town. Four years previous we had stayed a few days at Victoria Falls and had hired a couple of bikes so that we could ride across the border and see the Zambian side of the falls and visit Livingstone. We did the former but we were put off the idea of the latter by the bike hire guys. “You must make sure your wife is always in front of you and close to you otherwise those Zambians will kidnap her. Livingstone is a bad place”. Needless to say four years on, it was with some trepidation that we actually walked into the main part of town.
We needn’t have worried! Whilst the Lonely Planet does actually mention incidents of the occasional walker being mugged between the falls and the town, there was certainly no indication of a wild town that was eyeing up every white female with a view of selling her at the local slave market. Mind you the Lonely Planet did mention the fact that due to the muggings bike hire had become popular which changed little as there were now reports of the odd cyclists being mugged. So even though the Zimbabweans probably laid it on thick there is apparently some truth to their warnings.
Livingstone was until the 1970’s the centre for the falls but the Zimbabwean town of Victoria Falls started to become much more popular as Zambia itself struggled with its own political and economic problems. Nowadays its making a comeback for those wishing to escape the frenzied tourist activity and more recently the unsettling political and economic problems of its Zimbabwe neighbour.
Mind you from a tourism prospective there isn’t a great deal to see in Livingstone itself so we contented ourselves with having lunch and a few beers with John & Alison at the rather colonial Pig’s head pub. We had a developed a sort of travelers friendship with John and Alison, probably because they were a couple like us and also because they too were heading in the same direction. John, as an Englishmen, was certainly pretty patriotic and for me that was honourable but more importantly it offered a good opportunity to bait him about his country’s pathetic imitation of a cricket team.
The food at the Pigs head was nothing special but was almost five star in comparison to the Funky Monkey restaurant where our group had our farewell dinner that night. It was awful!
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