Vic Falls

Wednesday 9th July

Senga Bay, Malawi – South Luanga National Park, Zambia

We managed an early start to head into Malawi’s capital Lilongwe for supplies and picked up some drugs as a precautionary measure in case we had picked up the disease Bilharzia which is prevalent in the lake. It affects your bladder and is spread by minute worms that are carried by freshwater snails.

Opposite the supermarket, we saw a sign writing shop and thought it was about time to brand up Bru. For a bargain price, we got the website and ‘Edinburgh – Cape Town, 2008’ vinyl cut and stuck onto Bru…who was now looking the bomb!

Blinged up, we headed to the Zambian border where we encountered the slowest entry to a country as Brenda (not her real name) slowly finished her lunch in front of us before faffing with numerous bits of paperwork for the carbon tax they charge. As Brits, we also got stung with a visa fee of $150 (double that of any other country) due the Zambians apparently being charged that when they come to the UK (must have words with PM Gogsy Brown).

We picked up an Isreali hitchhiker, Assaf, who was heading to the same place and we headed along the dirt track avoiding the numerous cracks and holes in the three hour drive. We heard more bus horror stories from Assaf including failing brakes where the passengers started throwing themselves out of the moving vehicle. We were happy to be riding with Bru.

We finally arrived at Flatdogs campsite just outside South Luangwa National Park as the sun was setting. The place was fantastic and we camped next to the river with the hippos grazing on the banks only metres away from us. We had a great dinner in their restaurant then had an early night for safari viewing in the morning.

15,473 miles

South Luangwa
Elephants drinking


Thursday 10th July

South Luangwa National Park

We woke up bleary eyed to the now unfamiliar sound of an alarm at 5.45am accompanied by hippos growling across the river and grabbed a quick breakfast before heading into the park. Jumping out of the vehicle at the park gate, Nick was unaware of the large elephant that was grazing only metres away at the roadside, which Andy only pointed out to him later and chastised his poor safari technique.

Within minutes of entering the park as the sun rose, we came across two hippos lying on the track. Unsure of safari etiquette in these situations, Andy donned his Drizabone hat and accelerated towards the docile creatures. The method worked and the path was clear as well as getting a good close up view of the creatures out of the water.

We spent the four hours cruising through the picturesque park seeing plenty of wildlife including a pride of lions that were quickly engulfed by eight safari vehicles - which was a sad sight - as well as giraffe, zebra, crocs, elephants, hyena and buffalo. Apparently there about 30,000 hippos on the Luangwa River which accounted for the numerous sightings.

We returned to the campsite for some food and chilled out by the pool with a bunch of Canadian students who were working in Malawi and here on a vacation. We taught each other new card games like ‘shithead’ and ‘asshole’ before combining them with limited success but a new name that caused some amusement.

Later that afternoon, Andy headed out for a night drive to satisfy the game hunter in him, while Nick chilled out at the campsite and lovingly prepared dinner for the returning hunter gatherer while deterring the numerous monkeys trying to steal the food. Andy returned with stories of leopards, lion cubs and hyena which made the chef so jealous, he ‘accidentally’ spilled a whole pack of salt into his meal. We sat around the fire watching the hippos wandering in front of us and hearing the elephants rummage in the woodlands behind.

Friday 11th July

South Luangwa National Park – Lusaka

Despite his lack of chat and any offering of food, drink or petrol money, we decided to give Assaf the Israeli a lift onwards to Lusaka to save him from the perils of African public transport. It was a long and arduous drive along dull tarmac roads with the only excitement being the occasional pot hole or Assaf giving us the lowdown on cooking hummus. For entertainment, we started screaming about the brakes not working as he slept. This soon woke him up as he reached for the door and realised we were only kidding. Maybe we have spent too much time on the road!!

As we approached Lusaka, we realised diesel was running low and we had no cash to buy any more. Even if we did, the only petrol station we passed had no power and therefore no fuel. Some entrepreneurial locals however guided us to the bus stop where they brought us 15 litres of their finest diesel and at a reasonable price too.

Once in Lusaka, we found a working cash machine (taking out 2 million Kwacha) and filled up on diesel before finding Chachacha Backpackers which had a small space left in it’s car park for Bru. After getting the lowdown on locals bars over a poolside beer at Chachacha’s, we headed out in a taxi to a shopping mall and a typical Irish theme pub called O’Hagens which served us a great steak.

Here we met a local guy who told us about a club opening night at another nearby shopping mall. We willingly followed him and entered Room 101 where we were stung with an entry fee. We quickly made ourselves at home at the bar and chatted to an elderly local guy dressed head to toe in tweed. It emerged he was an eminent doctor and advisor to the president on agriculture issues. He enjoyed his whiskey and we were soon joined by a younger guy called Nicholas who ended up knowing some family friends of Andy’s who lived in Lusaka. We had tried to get in touch with this family but had no luck. Nicholas promised to meet us at the backpackers in the morning at 1030 and take us round to see the family as we would be welcomed with open arms.

15,952 miles

Saturday 12th July


We got dressed up in our best attire and sat at the bar of the backpackers watching South Africa vs. All Blacks in tri-nations rugby while waiting for Nicholas to turn up as promised. Expectations were high for a great day at a nice house mixing with some interesting people. As 1100 passed we lost hope and he was not answering the mobile number that he had left us with. We assumed he was getting a hard time from his wife that he had been ignoring calls from the previous evening!

Without wanting to waste our clean shirts, we headed to the local polo ground where matches were supposed to happen every weekend which we thought would be great fun. Instead, we arrived to a lawnmower cutting the field and no games promised for another couple of weeks. We enjoyed some lunch with freshly cut grass blowing into our drinks before deciding that Lusaka had nothing more to offer us.

With moral having taken a bit of a blow, we headed just south out of town to Eureka Camp which was looking pretty desolate in our state of minds. With hangovers subsiding, the camp filled with people and things brightened up a bit. We chatted to an enthusiastic American guy off one of the overland trucks before having an early night.

Sunday 13th July

Lusaka – Livingstone

After an early morning wake up by the trucks leaving at 4am, we eventually hit the road south towards Vic Falls. With Nick at the wheel, Andy took control of navigation but failed to point out a required junction. An hour later, we were back on track towards the right side of the country.

With only 100km remaining until we hit town, the road deteriorated with bad potholes everywhere. The engine started struggling like it had done only once before on the trip and started losing power badly. Suspecting a collapsed turbo pipe, we took it easy with numerous breaks required. A new rattling sound also emerged and on closer inspection, a bad pothole had sheared one of the rear shock absorbers that had taken a pounding.

We limped into town and checked out a few campsites before we ended up at the Whistle Stop on the outskirts of town. It was a new place but sadly lacked any atmosphere or homeliness so we quickly headed into town for some food at the Fez Bar. Being the only people there, we took control of the tunes which were blasting out Elvis Presley covers and tried to get the place going.

Failing at this having been the sole diners for two hours, we succumbed and headed back to the campsite where we briefly chatted to an English couple (Matt & Hilary) who were living in Botswana and here to kayak on the Zambezi. Our evenings sleep was abruptly ended when two buses full of Lusaka students arrived at 4am who did not respond to Andy’s Celtic cries to shut them up.

16,323 miles

Monday 14th July


Tired and emotional, we headed to Foley’s garage in town to sort out the shock and engine issues. The guy in charge, Nick, had already seen our website and we had used Foley’s in the UK to kit out our vehicle. He diagnosed the engine issue as being a faulty fuel lift pump and sourced a second hand shock which was a lot cheaper than a new one which was going to cost $150.

While waiting for the work, we headed to a nearby café with wi-fi access and bacon rolls which was a blessing. We returned to the garage to receive a smaller bill than expected before looking around town for a new campsite. We found Bush Front which was a pleasant place and set up camp there before heading along to Vic Falls.

Thankfully we remembered our waterproof jackets as we entered the park and headed over towards one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The spray was rising vertically as the water plunged into the canyon and soaking all those who had not invested in the ponchos for hire. It was a phenomenal sight and the noise from the falls was deafening.

We then wandered down to the ‘Boiling Pot’ at the bottom of the falls which was a tricky scramble down through rivers and over rocks. After the necessary photos were complete, we wandered back up to the car park. We saw a couple in safari gear checking out Bru so went over to chat to them.

It turned out to be Nick’s parents who had come out to Botswana for a holiday and we were expecting to meet later that day at their hotel. We headed along to the Zambezi Sun with them for a drink then dinner. It was a strange experience sitting in the plush hotel but we made the most of the all you can eat buffet and headed back to the campsite a few stone heavier.

Vic Falls
Vic Falls
Cheeky monkeys
Boiling Pot
Over the falls
Look behind you!


Tuesday 15th July


We woke early to catch our lift for our day of rafting the Zambezi with Safari Par Excellence. Unfortunately our timing was slightly off as the water was still too high in the river to raft the top rapids (2-10) so we had to resign ourselves to going down the tamer rapids from 10-25.

After a cooked breakfast we hopped in the truck to take us the 40 mins to the top of the rapids. The descent into the gorge was tricky having to clamber down a makeshift wooden ladder. The local guides practically ran down the steep slope overtaking the numerous groups of inept tourists.

Having rafter the Nile in Uganda, our expectations were high for the Zambezi but it was difficult to hide our disappointment as not a single boat tipped over as we cruised down the scenic waterway. Luckily, we didn’t have to walk out of the gorge but jumped on a recently installed cable car that hauled us back to the top. A warming beer was welcomed as we got back on the truck to head back to Waterfront for some more food and beer. The vice-president of Zambia hurtled past in a huge convoy of over sixteen vehicles.

After a quick change back at camp, we headed back to the waterfront for some sundowners and watched the booze cruise return from the river before heading along to the Royal Livingstone hotel for a plush meal with Nick’s parents which was greatly appreciated. The hotel was a blast from the colonial past with amazing food and even zebra and giraffe wandering around the grounds. At the next door Zambezi Sun, there was a conference of African Nations who were partying until late into the night…but we returned knackered to the rooftent.


The descent
Our guide
Andy primed

Wednesday 16th July


As Nick went off to say bye to his parents, Andy sat on the internet organising shipping home for the vehicle and reality started to hit. To combat this, we booked ourselves up for a bungee and booze cruise that afternoon. Although we had both done a bungee jump before, the fear still kicked in hard as we stood watching guys jumping before us.

We both completed the 111m bungee jump from the bridge overlooking the falls and with adrenaline surging through our veins, we hurried back to catch the sunset/booze cruise which we only just managed to make. The effects of the free-flowing drink after the bungee hit hard and when challenged to drinking games by some South African guys, the sunset element of the trip took second place.

The rest of the evening was slightly hazy but involved the two loons being the only white boys in a local club showing them how to dance like mizungu's…when Andy wasn’t asleep at the bar!

The fear
Nae bother!!
So close...
The post jump view!


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South Africa