The setting along the Luangwa River was perfect, allowing us to sit looking out onto water birds, hippos and a few crocs lazing in the sun on a dry bank.
Our campsite at Croc Valley consisted of a patch of green grass under a big Natal mahogany tree, a thatched shelter with a wooden picnic table and a plug point. With clean ablutions and a swimming pool nearby, there was nothing else any self-respecting camper could have wanted. If we felt sociable, there was even an open-air bar at the other end of the campsite where we could chill and mix with other travelers from all over the world.
The mahogany trees provided welcome shade in the afternoon heat. We’d been careful not to pitch camp under a sausage tree dripping two-foot long pods that may have been about to drop to ground. We didn’t want one bashing us on the head or making a huge dent in our car. They are useful, though. They provide food in the dry season for hippo, baboons and buck, and they have antiseptic properties and an extract is used for skin cancer. A local guide also hinted delicately that Zambians use it for ‘male potency’ – a kind of bush Viagra.
On our first night a TV set was blaring Mythbusters, which I enjoy at home but seemed so wrong in the middle of natural Africa. Fortunately, there was a power outage and we had 20 minutes of blissful silence and starlight until the staff got the backup generator going.
Have you been to Zambia? And did you fall under its spell too? I’d love to hear about your experiences – good or bad – in the comments below.
1. South Africans don’t need a visa to enter Zambia.
2. Anyone going to Zambia via South Africa needs a yellow fever inoculation.
3. Croc Valley camping cost us 41 250 kwacha per person per night (that’s about ZAR67 or US$8).
5. In June 2012 a law was passed in Zambia forbidding any payments in US dollars, with a heavy fine to make sure local businesses toe the line. So make sure you exchange enough kwacha as soon as you arrive in Zambia (you can’t buy kwacha outside its borders) because you can no longer fall back on dollars. If your guide book says you can, the info is outdated.
4. In January 2013 the new kwacha will be introduced. It will have three zeros lopped off it, so what was 100,000 kwacha (around US$19 or ZAR165) will become 100 kwacha (also still around US$19 or ZAR165), which is a whole lot easier for non-Zambians to calculate!
5. Find out more about Zambia.
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