Friday, June 6, 2008

Central Southern Africa

Hey World,

Man, I cannot believe it's been so long since we last blogged. So much seems to have happened. I'll try to get through it chronically although rambling may be permissable so we'll see.

The end of our time in Nkata Bay was excellent. Kate qualified as a diver which was great. We also spent most of a week helping the staff at Butterfly Lodge with the opening of their information centre for the local community. It was cool to head out into the community and meet local NGO people who, despite being poor themselves, were fully committed to helping others who have AIDS etc etc. We also managed to attend a concert of a band called "Souls of the Ghetto" who are a Malawian Reggae Group touring Europe soon. We had a great night dancing with the locals. One other thing I managed was a night dive in Lake Malawi. Pretty scary but worthwhile. The dolphin fish are apparently rather famous (think BBC documentaries and english accents describing their incredible lifestyles) and I certainly enjoyed watching them hunt.

After all this action it was time for some bussing. We cracked into it with a nice wee 8 hour ride on the bus from hell. The first four hours were spent standing in the aisle. Not merely standing comfortably either - more contorted and funky like. At one point I thought a little kid was touching my leg. Turned out it was a chicken. A couple of police inspections and a couple of litres of sweat later and we arrived in Lilongwe at dusk. We stayed at Mabuya camp which was rather cool. We had the following day for rest but typically spent it shopping. This time though shopping involved heading to the Lilongwe markets where we each got a zip up sweatshirt. Kate managed to get a "Vegetarians are more fun" tshirt and I scored a sweet chocolate brown vest. These items should keep us warm as the temperatures plunge in the desert. Total cost of the 4 items was $5 bucks. Thanks to whoever donated them to their church back home.

Next was a 530am start and a minivan to the border of Malawi and Zambia. We managed this without a hitch and found ourselves in Zambia by 8am. We promptly hired the first taxi we found only to learn that we'd hired the passenger seat. That's right - the "nice" man expected both me and kate and our backpack to sit in the passenger seat. We packed a sad and so Kate was allowed in the back seat which was good. Bad though was this meant the guy from the backseat attempted to share a seat with the driver. Thus picture 2 guys sitting in the drivers seat, cracked windscreen and potholed road going 90 kmh. Good times. The saving grace of all this was that the taxi driver abruptly pulled to a stop next to a large bus. This bus happened to be going to Lusaka and so we jumped on (much to the annoyance of the driver who'd had to stop when our taxi driver parked infront of him). Luckily we had scant quantities of US cash with which to pay for our tickets. The next 9 hours were spent in relative comfort driving through Zambia although to be honest it looked more like the set of the flintstones movie.

Lusaka was nicer than expected but we were quickly on our way at 530 am the next morning again. This time though we were on the Mazhundu family bus - an exiled zimbabwe company who were unbelievable - movies, individual seats, a/c and cans of coke as part of the service. We arrived in Livingstone around 2pm. By 330pm we were on a "booze cruise" taking in the glorious sunset on the Zambezi river. This night ended with a little madness but was all good. Next morning was Kate's birthday. We celebrated this with a wee visit to Vic Falls. Currently gushing 10 million litres per second across a 1.7km expanse down 106 metres, the Falls are certainly cool. It's funny that you can only see water gush over the top of a tiny section at once. The steam/spray it generates means you can't see the bottom or across the whole falls at once. Doesn't much matter though as the roar, the sensation and the view are unreal. So unreal infact we went back the next day with the camera and got a few cool pics..

Zambia though maybe 3 times the price of Malawi. Beer = $3 a bottle for instance. Cigarettes still cheap as chips.

Anyways, 4th June and our Acacia tour starts. It seems like a cool group of people and the camp grounds we've had are nice. The water is now safe to drink and the beer is certainly cheaper here in Botwana. The infrastructure is on par with Zambia and thus light years ahead of Malawi and Tanzania. We are now staying in Kasane which is a really cool wee town on Chobe national park. Last night we went for a game cruise on a barge. We saw greater kudu, Botswanan baboons, fish eagles, hippo's a plenty and then elephants. The elephants were unreal. Around 40 of them showed up and drank from the river 5-8 metres from 50 wide eyed whities. The girls still managed to coo at the baby elephants and the boys were impressed with the large bull elephants... The only problem with the drive was that our bus and thus our camera were stuck at Zambian customs and thus we went without photos :( (guess you had to be there!) This was a real shame as the photography would have been so easy. Any fool with a half decent camera could produce a coffee table book.

Then this morning we were up at 530 again for a game drive in 4wd. This was cool although the game didn't really show up. To compensate for hte lack of camera last night I took 190 photos of mixed quality (like a fool) . Am still waiting to see most of the more famous animals but it's awesome cruising round at dawn. Can't wait for the serengeti...

So yeah, that's all our news. We are now living like kings, eating and drinking whatever we like and regaining much weight. The next few days see us driving to more national parks and the Okavango delta. Sounds cool to me! Hopefully it doesn't get any colder though as it's already down near freezing most nights. Our 12 dollar nylon sleeping bags are certainly gonna struggle.

Jeffo. (Oi Jeff, aren't NZers meant to be tough? I heard you were born frozen)

PS, if you want a postcard send me your address.
PSS got ma head shaved. la viva moce. doesn't look much different to normal to be honest. how odd.

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