I love to travel, and the aspect I enjoy most about traveling, is the return, the way home feels, especially when that away was exhilarating. It is good to see and share the storied venues but many of those have become more Disneyland than history, and so the experience ends after the picture has been taken, but not so with many places just off the herd-trodden mainway. You know, the places you have dreamed about, the so-called “real” as in the real Peru, the real Europe or here, the real Africa.
Zambia is the real Africa. Hidden in the heart of a continent, this small for Africa country holds landscapes similar to all of its neighbors but with little Disneyland. Except for Victoria Falls on the Zambezi near Livingstone, the remainder of Zambia has not yet become that destination on a bucket list though there are many places worthy: Kafue National Park, classic wildlife country and home to Africa’s big five, South Luangwa National Park, tight bush country along a beautiful river and one of the best places in the world to photograph a leopard, Lower Zambezi National Park, elephants, hippos, fish eagles and crocodiles and of course because you have to, Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River, Mosi-oa-Tunya, that drops 2500 feet then rages down a fifty-mile-long whitewater canyon. Where is Zambia, how big is and how do I get there?
Look midway between the Equator and the southern tip of Africa. To me, Zambia looks like a newborn babe wrapped at the waist in small blanket and laying on its right side.
Zambia is about the same size as the western United States.
Keep in mind when hatching your travel plans that Africa is a large continent. While six hours of flight time can take you from Seattle to Miami or New York to London, Cairo to Cape Town is over nine hours. After arriving to Lusaka, the modern capital of Zambia, take some time to walk the streets and feel the city then when you have the rhythm, take to the bush, see the parks, explore up and down the Zambezi and seen more falls than you can imagine and few tourists. Learn about the many African language groups and their cultures and participate in the many festivals, an amazing experience that will bond with your psyche and become a part of you. None the least of these experiences are the subtle ones, like one of the famous quick-sudden rainstorms. Have you watched this video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjbpwlqp5Qw
I remember: the cab driver named Legal, who drove me into the city after my arrival at Lusaka International Airport and the rafting guide on the Zambezi named Bumpy, who asked our crew if they wanted to tip over or not but explained that there were crocodiles, the meat-heavy leopard in the tree along the Luangwa River and the Ku’omboka, one of the last great African ceremonies where the king of the Lozi, the Litunga, is transported in an enormous black and white striped wooden canoe from his dry-season palace to his wet-season palace. Each of these is in itself an experience of a lifetime, making the real Africa, Zambia more of a feeling than a place. Indeed, Zambia is a great setting for a novel about Africa. Have you read Dominion?