Lusaka, Zambia



// Nikon D7200 | -15.41104 : 28.30464 | alt. 1281m

Here we go Zambia !
You just drive by the waterfalls, and here is the border ! On the carpark, tons of palm oil have been poured down…. the smell is terrible, our tyres are full of it, same treatment for our shoes…..
Good way to say bye to Zimbabwe ….
We were expecting a mess, but since they have a lot of visitors crossing the border on foot to see both sides of the falls, the whole system is very efficient ! All done in 5 mins, same for the vehicles ! Amazing !!

Now we have to drive the massive bridge over the zambezi river, and we are already into Zambia. For the first time, and like in South America, tons of people jumped at us offering money exchange or different stuff. A formal chat about football is usually enough to distract them and get some space. pffffiou !
Immigration is done in 5mins, as long as you have 50usd in cash on you….. glop, expensive border !
At this moment, a guy wearing a badge is joining us, and decided to guide us in the building for the next steps. There is no sign, no direction, we went into a small room (with absolutely nothing on the door!) where a lady is processing our carnets. The whole task is done in 2min, we could not believe it !! That same process took so many hours in Zimbabwe. But this was not over yet…
Now we have to pay carbon tax, about 20usd, and it has to be paid in local currency…. again, our “guide” asked someone to give us some local cash (I obviously keep very well track of this …..) and we could jump to the next counter “toll fee”, 30usd to pay for me since my vehicle is from overseas…. Now we need to get car insurance. Once you enter Zambia, you should ask for the comesa card, which basically means you are covered by the same insurance for the whole African east coast. And obviously, they don’t offer it at the border, there is only one company by the way… We try to get a one day insurance in order to find a good one tomorrow in town, but nope, those guys will not let us go. Fine, we pay for it, 30$usd for 90 days, how silly, we can only get a 30 days visa….
One more fee to pay, about 2.5$, and we are good to go ! The whole process went pretty fast, thanks to our “guide”, but he’s now asking for his share, 30$usd per vehicle ! Ahahah. Obviously we are not gonna pay that, even if he still deserves a tip, asking for money at the end is not fair. We knew it would come up at some point, but here is the thing, he didn’t say it was a service, we didn’t talk for a price, so I made it clear we would not pay a single cent. I had to give him a whole speech to make sure he understood this was bullshit.
In the end, we still gave him a small tip, but that guy honestly didn’t deserve it in the end.

At last, we are now in Zambia, after paying $160usd at the border…. Time to refuel, and to our surprise, fuel is even more expensive here than in Zimbabwe ! (1.1eur/ liter) That fuel tank + border fee is actually my whole budget for Zambia ! Alright, we’re not gonna do much in this country, and we’ll have to bushcamp a lot !

After a nice night in the bush, it was time to get back on the road, direction Lusaka. Very long and boring drive with nothing to do or to see on the way. Highlight of the trip was a speeding ticket, my first one after nearly 16years of driving ! They put a “60” sign about 10 kms before the next village, and I didn’t slow down before I could actually see a reason to do so. This is exactly where a policeman was waiting.
He showed me my speed record straight away on his device, and I was sent on the side to pay the fine. 15sec later, a local was caught as well for speeding, same fine, 300K, this is the official speed trap of Zambia…. This country is starting to get really expensive, and for nothing !!!
Next night, we found a place to sleep in the bush, but apparently, this was a property, and the two owners showed up a bit before sunset. One was friendly and let us sleep there, but his brother was drunk as fuck, and made a whole mess about it. As soon as they left, we relocated the vehicles a bit further in the bush.
Next morning, while driving in the bush to catch up the main highway, a bunch of locals jumped at me, yelling I was trespassing their property.
You have to remain calm in those situations ! I called the bluff, saying I met the 2 owners last night, and I had permission to stay. Anyway, I am on a gravel road connecting many properties, used by freight vehicles and many locals. At this point, they are obviously asking for money, so before we could settle on something, I simply drove away, saying I would ask my way to a police check point just 50m away 🙂 That was enough to get rid of them. Just 100kms to go, before we could enjoy the traffic jams of Lusaka !

So far, I didn’t have a very nice feeling about Zambia, in fact, I never had any expectation about this country, but you have to cross it anyway to drive north (back when I was plotting this trip, Mozambique was not safe enough).

Stepping into busy Lusaka and insane traffic jams didn’t help at all. Not that we wanted to visit this place, but we had to service our cars. This is one of the major difference between backpackers and overlanders. Backpackers rely on public transport and usually hop from big cities to the next one, as overlanders will generally avoid big cities, unless they are worth visiting……… or you have some mechanical things to sort out :p

Welcome to Wanderer’s camp, not far from the city center, this place somehow manages to offer a quiet green spot for every traveler on the eastern trans african route, with good internet connection (as long as the power generator has diesel), washing machine, hot shower and power points, the whole thing for $5usd only per night :p That’s a steal !
Here come overlanders and backpackers, and for the first time, we met Chinese backpackers, and Pascal, a crazy Swiss dude riding his bicycle around the world (since 5 years already ! ).

Back to the mechanical part, it took me 3 days to sort out everything, and despite the fair amount of mitsubishi delicas in town, I didn’t find a single part for my vehicle ! My watch list is getting a bit longer with a leaking suspension airbag in the back…. Once all was done, we could all spend some time to socialize all together, doing bbq, visiting Lusaka, and even play frisbee, with Pascal, Bo, Yanns, Sophie, and Christel.

Rest of the time in Lusaka wasn’t so great, this place is a pack of dirt with barely nothing to see, and you really have to stay away from any point of interest to get rid of all those people offering “services”. While driving back, I got stopped by a policewoman, because I didn’t pick the correct lane to pass an intersection. Painted arrows on the road are completely washed away, I did my best to get out of this, but she would not let me go. In the end, she asked me how much I was willing to pay….. so first time in my life I had to pay a corrupted lady to drive away…… This nearly 30min long conversation will be my strongest memory of Zambia.

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