ZAMBIA: THE DEPARTURE AND THE ARRIVAL IN LUSAKA
15/17 august 2018 – Our African journey of 2018 begins on foot: in Turin, from home, we reach the metro backpacks on our shoulders, then bus to Milan Malpensa airport where we expect the flight to Lusaka – Zambia – with stopover in Addis Ababa.
After a lot of thinking we decided on an itinerary that will start from Zambia and then continue to Malawi and finally to Mozambique from where we have the return flight in a month.
We settle in and begin to prepare the next moves: tomorrow – August 17th – we’ll do a walking tour of the city and buy bus tickets for the next leg to Victoria Falls. The backpacks remain compact, just the change for the night. On the morning of August 17 we throw ourselves on foot for Lusaka which is naturally a big mess: many steps, initial disorientation, attention, voices, colors, poverty, ugliness and beauty …
With so many steps we can get to the central bus station, buy our tickets for tomorrow and breathe the atmosphere. Lusaka is not simple or easy: well, it was to be expected but these metropolitan wanderings in cities like these on the other side of the world are a gym for life that we cannot afford. Each time they teach us many things: attention, humility, concentration, amazement, perseverance, control, abandonment …
FROM LUSAKA TO LIVINGSTONE AND BACK: VICTORY WATERFALLS AND WALK SAFARI!
18/21 august 2018 – August 18th is a day of travel and that’s it: from Lusaka to Livingstone – Zambian base for the Victoria Falls – they are about 9h of journey. From the Lusaka hostal, with a hiccup internet line, we booked at the Jollyboys which seems strategic
and we have booked there … waiting, another taxi and we arrive. In reality, apart from the initial discomfort, the Camp is much better for us: less crowded, more real, more peaceful. We recover a dinner even at the closed kitchen and goodnight.
In the morning, refreshed, we manage to organize our next movements: the hostal offers a free transfer to the entrance of the VIttoria Falls (the return is your business) so we take advantage of it. The whole day passes with miles on foot along the waterfalls: really incredible! We walk along the Zambian side and then, on foot, we decide to cross the border with Zimbabwe to see the other “side”. Incredible experience with the addition of a few dollars of daily visa and entry to the park. Unmissable!
Let’s go back to our bell’hostal and, given and verified the costs of the hypothetical canoe trip on the Zambesi river that we thought we were doing – exaggerated! – we decide to occupy the day tomorrow with a small walking Safari to meet the rhinos in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park. The evening flows peacefully to breathe the air of Africa and massage tired feet.
We come back and we put ourselves in starting mode: tomorrow we return to Lusaka, to continue … Of course this area is considerably touristy but the Victoria Falls and the rhinos were still a unique experience and moving on our own we managed to savor a small piece anyway true and also where the roads are mostly traced.
We leave on August 21 with the bus from Livingstone to Lusaka to return to the same hostal: if you have little time in these fast passages better to have some small known certainty. These days of transit in the end are always however among the most true and intense of the journeys, beyond the beautiful places we meet. The daily journey, its nuances, its buses, its hours of hours between holes and hours of discomfort are what often remain in the end.
FROM ZAMBIA TO MALAWI: CROSS-BORDER ODISSEA
22/23 agosto 2018 –
Today our plan is to move towards the first frontier by land of this desk-shaped journey in the winter months: we will approach the no-man’s land between Zambia and Malawi.
We pack backpacks and between a taxi, a bus, a taxi, a few steps, we take the road that separates us from Lusaka to the last Zambian town in this geographical area before the border with Malawi: Chipata.
We found a hostal via web that seems to be basic but interesting. Too bad that when, after hours of bus, we get there by taxi we discover that it is closed and under renovation. By now it is getting dark and the town, not at all touristy, has very little else to offer: in an emergency we end up at a Marriot (unbelievable! In this lost place there is a Marriot … border traffic …). Our check-in is surreal: beggars at Disneyland, oh well … we have to find a roof, be safe and tomorrow we leave. We decide to invest a few dollars …
Closed in this absurd golden world we decide to take advantage of it so we take a 5stelle shower, place ourselves at the restaurant / bar with our maps and guides to plan the next day, make friends with a private Italian airplane pilot who opens up a “world” on this world “, we have dinner and enjoy the extra-size bed. So we have – paid game – paid!
In the morning we pay off the debt with backpacks already put in the amazement of the desk staff definitely more elegant than us and, with a first taxi, we reach the border not before having exchanged our last Zambian money in paper money from Malawi to a money exchange. Border on foot, various stamps and we are in Malawi. Waiting for the order bus we meet Blessing and his taxi: we negotiate a convenient price to reach Lilongwe (low because we also negotiate the next day trip to Cape Mc Clear). We have a hostal downloaded via web, we discover that it has no more rooms and we opt for a tent. Long live improvisation, common showers, the unknown!
MALAWI: FROM LILONGWE TO CAPE MC CLEAR
24 – 26 agosto 2018 – In the morning we release the tent and Blessing comes to take us with his wife: they have decided – with our money – to have a weekend on Lake Malawi optimizing: they take us where we need to go and take a trip.
t seems perfect to us. The journey gives us new and beautiful landscapes. We arrive at our hostal, Malambe Camp,
with hut on the “lake / sea” and we spend a nice afternoon together among local chat and board games. The evening is a blaze of stars, beers and good food: happy birthday Sig!
Today the day is dedicated to touring the incredible islands scattered over Lake Malawi: we negotiate a boat for the ride and spend the day among incredible snorkelling among multicolored lake fish and remote beaches. Lake Malawi is indeed a promise kept: a “tropical” sea of fresh water, villages, fishermen, boats of foreign tourists like us and of local tourism. A truly unmissable mix within the Lake Malawi National Park.
Important note: the lake is swimmable offshore but less safe near the coast due to the risk, as in many other places of fresh water of schistosomiasi (detta anche bilharziosi).
On returning from the experience on Lake Malawi we let time pass slowly: we reassemble our backpacks for tomorrow’s departure, we open maps and maps to build the path of the days to come, we feed cats, we drink beers, we eat things, we look at the stars.
FROM CAPE MC CLEAR TO LIWONDE:
THE PARK AND THE START TO THE MOUNTAINS
27 – 29 august 2018 – Today we start from Cape Mc Clear: with a car we reach the “bus station” of Monkey Bay – minibuses that here are called Matola on which we jump from the roadside – and with a standard ultra-zipped journey with 40 other people as they go up and down – we arrive at the Liwonde bus station. A Jeep is waiting for us here …
The bus station is a delirium on the side of a road, we are assaulted by sellers of any object, tour, souvenir, food, drink, housing, medicine, safari, transport. We wait patiently for our jeep that will take us to Liwonde to sleep at Kutchire Lodge , found at the suggestion of our friends at Cape Mc Clear. Here you have to trust word of mouth.
Recovered from the jeep we are transferred to the Park and to the relative lodge, very nice to tell the truth, with different options: from the private room / hut (which we chose as a gift) to the common dormitory, to the tents. We immediately throw ourselves into a magnificent river safari on the Liwonde river that gives us a boat trip among hippos, elephants, birds and breathtaking sunsets. In the evening, dinner and fire in the bush.
Today, August 28th, we dedicate the day to a classic safari in Liwonde National Park. Of course, after visiting the great Parks of Tanzania and Kenya, this might seem like a fallback but sometimes in the small we discover the great and this “little” tour and this “small” park – now in protected development, for us it was a little precious gem not to be missed
We return and enjoy dinner and the African night, preparing our backpacks first for tomorrow’s next stop in Malawi: the mountains await us!
TOWARDS THE MOUNTAINS OF MALAWI
29 – 30 august 2018 – In the morning we leave: with the jeep they take us back to the bus station and from here we are alone again, with some varied and possible indication of routes and changes of means. With an experience that is really impossible to describe on the road we start from Liwonde – with a stop in Limbe – to continue to Mulanje:
several minibuses, various struggles on prices, various struggles on maintaining a seat among people, children, goods, carpets, luggage, unforeseen circumstances, sweat and fatigue. We arrive at a certain point in the town of Limbe, the first stage of today’s long journey.
We descend from the infernal minibus and on the edge of a very busy road / exchange station we arrive at a second “vehicle” – really at the limit of rust – which we tried to avoid in order to pass to the next one. Nothing, they force us on. Here, however, destiny rewards us. On the minibus he sits next to us, equally accented and unmade, Montse: an incredible Spanish friend who travels alone and who, from now on, we hope to never lose again.
We arrive in the village of Mulanje, at the foot of incredible Malawian mountains and, together with Montse we walk – backpacks on our shoulders – several times the road between Mulanje and Chitakhale – two “twin” villages that confuse the waters, to understand and find where to sleep and how improvise a trek in the mountains for which none of us was prepared … thanks Mulanje Infocentre!
We sensibly choose to dedicate the following day – 30 August – to preparation instead of immediate departure. We strengthen friendship and understanding between us three future extreme travelers, we prepare selective backpacks for the quota leaving in custody the rest of the luggage at the hostal, we buy various supplies and kinds of subsistence for the trek – from onions to rice, from candles to toilet paper – and we make the sign of the cross. Atheists.
TREKKING ON THE MOUNTAINS OF MALAWI
31 august – 3 september 2018
The trek in the mountains of Malawi deserves a dedicated story that we will write separately. Here The various stages at a glance. Day 1: hard stage from the tea plantations in the plains to the highlands of the summit with rock climbing sections with bare hands! First shelter for the night.
Day 2: long stage at high altitude in an endless up and down until the second shelter. Day 3: equally eternal stop on the first day with stretches on the plains and an endless descent breaks feet! In the middle: magnificent scenery, wooden shelters where we cooked and warmed ourselves at the fire of stone chimneys, incredible starry skies at night, cold, laughter, sweat, adventure. An unforgettable experience. On 3 September we decide to dedicate it to rest, washing clothes and preparing for the new start.
FROM MALAWI TO MOZAMBIQUE – THE ARRIVAL IN TETE BEYOND THE BORDER
4 september 2018 – Very early in the morning, backpacks on our shoulders, we start from Mulanje with the first minibus to Mozambique. Halfway, our road divides from that of Montse: us towards Mozambique, she towards Zambia.
We leave each other with a hasty hug in an infernal minibus station and, with great effort and some hitch, we manage to get us to another minibus station from which “they should” start the transports towards the border with Mozambique
The mess in these places is total and as usual we are assailed by an incalculable number of unofficial driver that risk sending you into confusion. We stay focused and we manage to get on the right vehicle … after a few hours of travel we arrive at the Zobué border: here we will have to face the visa test, which we did not do from home. Queue, mug shots, fingerprints … and the visa is ours!
Easier than expected. Once you enter Mozambique on foot, there is yet another minibus station to reach the city of Tete. We arrive in the late afternoon and with a mototaxi we reach a hostal. We venture on foot with the light to find a place to eat and retire early. A plane to Maputo is waiting for us tomorrow!
IN MOZAMBIQUE: FROM MAPUTO TO THE NORTH AND BACK
5 – 16 September 2018 –
In the morning, always with a motorcycle taxi, we reach the small and broken Tete airport. The flight leaves and fortunately lands: we are in Maputo, the capital. Here we will spend a single night: the plan is to fly north and return traveling towards Maputo where our end-of-journey plane leaves from.
We stay atFatimas Backpacker, good quality / price solution that also has a “branch” in Tofo where we book tomorrow’s stay.
Given the enormous distances here in Mozambique and the few days left we decide to invest in a plane that takes us to Inhambane to the north and here by taxi we reach the Hostal Fatimas on the sea of Tofo. We dedicate the afternoon to the discovery of the area and so also the following day: dawn on the beach with an ocean that teems with dozens of blowing whales, long walks on the beach hit by a strong wind and in the small village full of life. We breathe Mozambique.
SWe arrived on September 8th and today we leave again: with a minibus we move from Tofo to Inhambane and stay at Africa Tropical ,
a mid-level but very comfortable hostal for the port from which we will leave tomorrow for Vilanculo. Or so we hoped: the next day, Sunday, we should leave but it pours. The journey is too long and uncomfortable so we surrender to the weather and resupply the backpacks, spending the whole day in hostal between readings and preparation of our movements in the next days. We surrender to the rain.
Today is a day of travel: backpacks on our shoulders we reach the port of Inhambane and we manage to take the ferry to the opposite part of the enormous bay and reach Maxixe. From here, lurking at the side of the road, we catch a minibus to Vilanculo. That unloads us on the edge of another road from which we are loaded into the back of a truck and together with 20 other people we travel standing and reach the dusty and beautiful village of Vilanculo between holes and hops. Here, walking along dirt roads, we find our refuge: theBaobab Beach.
We place ourselves in our hut and settle in paradise. In the afternoon we organize the tours of the next few days and enjoy the well-deserved rest.
The following day – 11 September, the first anniversary of our wedding in Costa Rica – we will give ourselves a slow day and in the afternoon a small and interesting tour to the red dunes: a short jeep stretch, a walk through incredible small canyons on the dunes, a dreamy sunset. In the evening we have dinner with a group of fantastic Italian boys we have just met and we will meet again at the end of our trip to Maputo. A perfect anniversary!
Today, 12 September, we visit the incredible Bazaruto archipelago: from Vilanculo beach the boat takes us on a tour of the six islands of Bazaruto, Benguerra, Margaruque, Santa Carolina (Paradise Island), Banque and Pansy Shell Island. On two of the islands we disembark and take a long and incredible walk through desert dunes and saline lagoons with incredible colors. The sea around gives us snorkelling, coral reefs and endless horizons. This archipelago is truly a paradise on earth! And for a few hours it’s for us.
we leave today 13 September – in the early afternoon we board a flight to Maputo and return to the Fatimas Backpacker. Here, like the first time we were there, we skip dinner; the place is nice and safe but has a flaw: after 17.00 the kitchen closes and we don’t want to venture into the city in the dark. Diet! The next morning and for more than half a day we turn to Maputo with the group of Italian boys known to Vilanculo. Matteo is an excellent guide since he has been living in Mozambique for over a year for international cooperation projects. Streets, squares, streets, markets, the semi-abandoned train station, lunch at the park … a very interesting dive in a chaotic and turbulent capital, discovered in some of its best corners thanks to a friend! In the evening we venture with a taxi for a quality dinner in a nice restaurant on the seafront. From here on we slowly slide inexorably towards the way back: preparation of backpacks, sleep, cazzeggiano, airport, flight to Addis Ababa, stopover, flight to Milan Malpensa, bus to Turin, metro and walk to home. Like a month ago, but backwards …
15/16 august 2018 – Torino – Milano Malpensa by bus – Addis Ababa – Lusaka – Ethiopian Airlines
17 agosto 2018 – around Lusaka and buy bus tickets for tomorrow
18 august 2018 – bus Lusaka/Livingstone – 9h
19 august 2018 – Victoria Falls between Zambia and Zimbabwe
20 august 2018 – relax in Livingstone and Walking Safari among the rhinos
21 august 2018 – Bus Livingstone/Lusaka – night in the same hostal Lusaka Backpackers
22 august 2018 – by bus from Lusaka to the border with Malawi: Chipata
23 august 2018 – border crossing Zambia / Malawi: from Chipata to Lilongwe
24 agosto 2018 – taxis for rent from Lilongwe to Cape Mc Clear on Lake Malawi
25 august 2018 – boat tour on the lake in the Lake Malawi Park
26 august 2018 – Relax at Cape Mc Clear and prepare itinerary for the days to come
27 august 2018 – traveling with various minibuses (Matola) from Cape Mc Clear to Liwonde towards the National Park – Boat Safari in the afternoon
28 august 2018 –
Safari in Liwonde National Park and afternoon relaxation
29 august 2018 – departure by minibus from Liwonde to Mulanje (intermediate step in Limbe) – meeting with Montse and first contacts for trek on the mountains
30 august/3 september 2018 – trek to the Mulanje mountains and back – preparation for departure from Malawi
4 september 2018 – by bus from Mulanje towards the border with Mozambique (Zobué) and arrival in Tete
5 september 2018 – by plane from Tete to Maputo
6 september 2018 – by plane from Maputo to Inhambane – by taxi to Tofo
7 september 2018 – around Tofo and its beaches
8 september 2018 – rom Tofo to Inhambane by minibus – walking around the town
9 september 2018 – starting attempt blocked by torrential rain – in Inhambane between relax, plans and plans for the next trips
10 september 2018 – departure from Inhambane with boat and bus to Maxixe destination Vilanculo – last stop in a truck!
11 september 2018 – n the paradise of Vilanculo – relaxation and sunset tour on the red dunes for our anniversary
12 september 2018 – tour to the Bazaruto Archipelago by boat
13 september 2018 – rrelax at the Vilanculo hostal and depart by plane to Maputo
14 september 2018 – Around Maputo
15 september 2018 – preparation of backpacks and mental preparation for the return evening flight
16 september 2018 – Maputo flight – Addis Ababa – Milan Malpensa – bus to Turin – Metro – walk home …