We left Livingstone and decided to go to Lake Kariba. Lurch said no problem it's mostly tar roads so it should be quick. He hadn't been to Zambia for four years and there hadn't been any investment in the roads. We set off on the main road from Livingstone to Lusaka. I have never seen anything like it in my life, it looked as though a meteorite shower had just fallen, it was chock full of pot holes and everybody was driving on the side,in the middle to the left and to the right to avoid them. We joined a dusty, snaking conga for three hours, led by 4 Jeeps in convoy driven by men with very short shorts and very long grey beards, wearing maroon polo shirts with 'the Jesus film project' embroidered on the front. We didn't stop to ask them what they were filming.
Zambia is full of people on shiny, aluminium bicycles; echoes of the famous scene with Paul Newman and Katherine Ross in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid everywhere - old couples on bikes, whole families pedalling along on one bike and even a man with a live pig strapped on the back, we didn't see one overweight Zambian in the villages. Danny Boy had become fearful of African towns, we couldn't understand why but he explained that the poverty was scaring him, so we picked up hitchhikers from villages who sat next to the boys in the back of the car, I'm not sure if that helped or hindered DB's understanding. The Terminator, on the other hand, remarked that the people smiled a lot more in Zambia than Yorkshire and looked a lot happier, he wondered whether it was because they didn't appear to be at school or work much. Lurch told him it wasn't as simple as that but I had to agree with The Terminator, Zambians did seem really relaxed and cheerful.
After a hellish journey avoiding Zambians on bikes coming at you in the middle of the road with no lights and unidentified pot holes everywhere we arrived at Lake Kariba and set up the tents for the night. I dragged myself into bed, my ovaries felt like they were exploding and my knees were seizing up. We decided to stay for a couple of days to rest properly and again it was wonderful. The lodge owners were lovely and took the boys out fishing for the afternoon for a few dollars. They came back at dusk saying they had had the best day of their entire lives. They caught about 30 fish and threw the remainder to the crocodiles in the farm on the lake. Danny Boy was thrilled to hear the croc's jaws crunch. Later that night the owners set up a table by the pool with glowing hurricane lamps for us and we had a fabulous feast of fish and chips.
Then onto Lusaka and Chipata before arriving at the highlight of the trip, South Luangwa national park and Flatdogs Camp. Lurch had stayed there before and we were treated like old friends. The park was outstanding and Flatdogs was fantastic; hippos and elephants wander around the camp and you have to check the pool for animals in the morning, before diving in. We also had beds in fixed tents, the luxury! We drove ourselves into the park where Lurch found the bones of a dead warthog. Always one to flout the rules he got out of the vehicle and started kicking the skull to try and dislodge a few teeth to take home with him. The rest of the visitors looked on in horror but fortunately nothing got him and he wasn't strong enough to take a trophy home. We probably should have joined a game drive as there was a leopard kill of a pregnant Impala, a python eating an Impala and 5 week old lion cubs around a buffalo kill! Two Swedish ladies were unable to eat their dinner after the drive and a brave single dad from England on safari for the first time was very worried about what his 9 year old daughter was going to tell his ex-wife about her holiday memories. Nature is red in tooth and claw indeed.
Lurch took lots of photos and we met some lovely people there. The Zambian president also died during this time and his body was flown all around the country for people to mourn, which they did with a vengeance.
All in all a thought-provoking, beautiful but wild holiday. I can't say I look rested in any way, more like the elderly love-child of Worzel Gummidge and a lizard with a greasy t-section if the photos are anything to go by. We will return though!