My memories of Zambia are a haze of exhilaration and wow moments. As the first African country I visited, Zambia will always have a place in my heart.
I’d never quite understood the term “culture shock” that is until I arrived in Zambia and was just the most overwhelmed I’ve ever been by the sheer African-ness of my surroundings. Wandering the dusty roads of Livingstone and being called to by the locals; ducking into a dark, smoky markets to see people selling TVs made before I was born; swapping my old shoes for some slightly less old shoes in a shoe shop; all this and more, while wonderfully exciting, was a bit too much to take in on my first afternoon!
I returned to the quiet, peaceful haven of my hostel and then in the evening a friend took me to a beautiful lodge on the banks of the Zambezi where, Mosi lagers in hand, sounds of hippos in our ears, we watched the sunset mindblowingly over the river in colours I had never seen before. This experience, I can vividly pinpoint, firmly and immediately cemented in me a love of Africa. On my first day, mere hours into my African experience, I felt like I’d found a home away from home.
In the course of the next four days I had waded to the edge of Victoria Falls in what was one of the most terrifying and rewarding experiences of my life; I’d taken three 18-month-old lions for a walk and scratched the male’s tummy while he was having a snooze; I’d ridden a ginormous elephant called Danny through the bush and watched two baby elephants playing in the Zambezi about a hundred yards away from a crocodile; on top of this I’d seen zebras, giraffes, all kinds of antelope and birds; and I never wanted to go home!
Watching a herd of elephants crossing the river at sunset and hearing them trumpet almost moved me to tears; just driving around Livingstone and through the bush fascinated me; eating barbequed crocodile and chatting with the welcoming and happy locals was fantastic; watching monkeys causing havoc everywhere was brilliant; I crammed as much as I possibly could into my few days in Zambia (exhausted myself in fact!) and I loved every second.
My auntie told me before I left, “Africa gets under your skin”. She was so right; it gets under your skin and into every part of your being! It’s a
dream of mine now to retire to a lodge on the Zambezi, have daily brais, reading and walking and watching nature at its best outside my door.
I spent longer in other African countries on the rest of my trip and loved every second of those as well, so I don’t know if it was because it was the first or because it was the best that Zambia is my most loved. The people are so much fun, the wildlife and scenery are indescribable, there’s so much to do and see; I just can’t recommend it highly enough.