Our hope is that Livingstone, the adventure center of Africa, currently the sleeping tourism giant of Zambia can be awakened again as a result of COVID-19 vaccinations and life & livelihoods restored.
Zambia is commonly referred to as the “smiling” country of Africa. This is because Zambians are incredibly friendly and welcoming to visitors! The name “Zambia” was derived from the river Zambezi which is one of Zambia’s main rivers. The country’s landscape is one of the most captivating and it brings in a lot of tourists from all over the world.
With vast tracts of remote wilderness and few tourists, a visit to Zambia offers genuine adventure. High quality guides will share their knowledge with you on game drives, night drives, walking and canoe safaris. A canoe safari on the Zambezi is not to be missed by the more adventurous. Walking safaris were pioneered in Zambia; so you’re in the hands of the very best and most experienced walking guides – and there’s no better feeling than coming within metres of big game on foot. Zambia really does offer a taste of the real Africa!
Here is why you should safari in Kafue National Park
- Pristine wilderness
The Kafue National Park is underrated by so many, but now, tourists are starting to see what the fuss is all about and justifiably so. Kafue is vast, covering 22,400 km² making it one of the largest parks in Africa; but unlike many tourist destinations, Kafue is still largely untouched, it is a pristine wilderness with stunning landscapes, game viewing, and a diversity of bird species.
For all of those who work in Kafue National Park, there is a true passion about where they are and what they are trying to achieve. They truly believe in what Kafue has to offer and slowly more and more people are experiencing this, so their hard work is paying off.
The flora and fauna of Kafue is incredibly diverse. There is such a wide variety of game, plants, birds, trees and fish all to be found in one national park. Boasting 500 different species of bird including bee eaters, rollers, kingfishers, wattled cranes, saddle billed stalks, Pel’s fishing owl, African fin-foot, goliath heron, hornbills, vultures and eagles, with such diversity your bird list becomes quite extensive and it will be difficult to put your binoculars down!
There are also 20 different species of antelope in the park ranging from puku, bushbuck and impala to sable, roan, sitatunga, blue duiker, reedbuck and oribi. With all these antelope on offer, of course there is also game such as lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog.
The list of more elusive mammals includes genets, servals and honey badgers. The list goes on, and to top off these sightings is the fact that the landscapes are equally stunning with huge open plains at Nanzhila combined with dambos, teak and Miombo forests, and Lake Itehi Tezhi.
3. The Kafue River
The Kafue River follows a course of approximately 960 kilometres and plays a large role in Zambia’s ecosystems, supporting the wildlife of the national park, as well as being a source of water for farmers, irrigation and hydroelectric power. The river’s source is in the Congo and it is the largest and longest river lying entirely within Zambia, the Kafue is a major tributary to the Zambezi River which it joins in Chirundu at the Zambia Zimbabwe border.
Just like the national park, the Kafue River is also very diverse with areas that are fast flowing, both mighty and gentle rapids and slower, more mild sections with sandy banks where you can find nesting bee eaters, pods of hippos, basking crocodiles as well as monitors and otters. Fish eagles call and soar overhead, whilst kingfishers and herons make the most of the abundance of fish in the water.
You can take stunning sunset cruises along the river whist relaxing and enjoying the scenery; you can canoe gently taking in the sights and sounds at your own pace whether you are a beginner or a keen angler you can go fishing for Kafue’s five species of bream, fresh water pike and barbell to name just a few.
Wherever you go in Kafue National Park, you feel as though you are the only people there. The remote nature of the lodges combined with the vastness of the park allow you to feel completely at one with nature and privileged to be enjoying such wilderness.
Lochinvar Safaris offer trips across Zambia, and one of our favourite places, for all of the reasons above, is Kafue. We have a great relationship with management of the park and genuine passion for what it has to offer.
Just like its day-time equivalent, the lunar rainbow or ‘moonbow’ is created as light is refracted through water particles in the air, but instead of the light source being the sun it is now the moon.
Lunar rainbows are much fainter than their day-time forms with which we are all so familiar. This is because of the lower amount of light reflected from the surface of the moon. Only when the moon is full and skies clear of cloud is enough light reflected to create a moonbow, which always occur in the sky opposite from the moon in relation to the observer.
The human eye finds it difficult to discern the colours in a moonbow because the light is usually too faint from the moon to excite the human eye cone clour receptors (this is true of all night-time vision). Hence, moonbows can appear to some human eyes to be washed-out and white, without the concentrated colours of a day-time rainbow.
This varies according to the quality of the individuals night vision and the number and responsiveness of colour sensitive cones present in the retina of their eyes. So for some people it can be a bit disappointing, if your expectations of a bright rainbow are too high. Here is our advise; seeing a seventh wonder of the world, by magical moonlight is a surreal experience in itself. It is NOT just about the moonbow. The vibrant colours of a lunar rainbow do show very clearly in photographs with a long exposure. So for the avid photographer this is particularly exciting and challenging.
Zambia is undoubtedly gifted with a range of wildlife, about 750 types of birds through the entire country and for a few habitats; 400 species found in South Luangwa National Park alone. This is valid, because of the variety of habitats including riverine forest, lagoons, lakes, swamps and also national parks and reserves, each one providing a range of birds along with mammals.
The wetlands on Lake Bangwelu and its banks boasts a few exclusive types like the scarce shoebill, white cheeked bee eater, wattle crane, swamp fly catcher as well as the kingfisher amid other swamp common species. The riverbank forest is definitely a special home to varieties for instance the Arnot Chat and also the Racket railed roller. The Chaplin’s Barbet is in fact one type of birds endemic to Zambia.
Lochinvar National Park, in the north of Kafue River, is without a doubt thought to have several rich swamplands for bird watching in the world, due to something like hundreds of birds to view. At that place, you will discover the egret, wattle crane, sand grounce along with the pratincole among additional bird varieties.
To the Zambia-Congo boundary, you’ll come across the town of Mwinilunga on the west of River Lunga, which has a unique plethora of migratory birds coming from the Congo forests; offering a unique spot for birding enthusiasts. There is the Grim longclaw, bulbul, Angola lark, the cisticola, that brown eared wood pecker, sunbirds and also the spotted thrush bubbler.
Some other important habitats consist of the Nkanga Conservation Area, Nyika National Park and also Shiwa Ng’andu reserve and that is renowned for horse back riding safaris; enable you to enjoy birds along the riding tracks.
One more great birding location in Zambia is actually Chimfunshi wildlife Orphanage which happens to be a home for the pale billed hornbill, cuckoo, forest warbler, starling, bocage’s robin and many more.
Zambia offers Africa’s best walking safari experiences. During the 2020 end of year festive season, it was both surprising and exciting to see locals come out in large numbers to Itezhi Tezhi rural town to enjoy themselves in the open veld of the Kafue National Park. One of the most popular activity that most visitors undertook was the Kapenta walking safari excursion.
On the apex of Itezhi Tezhi mountain located about 4 kms from the Kafue National Park main entrance is perched a semi-luxurious lodge known as CMS. It is a perfect place to connect with nature. It is from there that every morning participants set out on a 2 hour walking safari to the bottom of the mountain at Lake Itezhi Tezhi harbor through very narrow bushy Kapenta trail. The Kapenta trail was developed as a short cut footpath by fish traders to reach the fish harbour below .
On the cool morning of 1st January, 2021 being a special New Year celebration day, I lead our special guest couple, Alex and Joan on this exciting 2 hours walking safari. I started off by conducting the usual physical fitness check session. It was fun seeing Alex almost failing to do one of the basic “touch your toes” exercise due to his pot belly. Joan did all the exercises with relative ease due to her slim body flexibility. She mocked her husband Alex for his inability to do some of the physical fitness check exercises.
When all the fitness checks were done, we set out walking in a single file along a narrow bush footpath sandwiched between some rough rocks with me leading the team. The idea was to take the walk really slowly, with plenty of breaks and get closer to nature. We walked through the residential complex housing workers for the Itezhi Tezhi Power Corporation (ITPC). We saw the makeshift wooden tables used to dry fresh Kapenta (i.e small fish harvested from lake Itezhi Tezhi). I explained to my guests that many wives of ITPC workers are engaged in fish trading to supplement their home income. Every morning, groups of women walk down to the lake Itezhi Tezhi harbor to buy Kapenta fish, using the same path trail we were using. This is why the path is called Kapenta walking trail, named after these same small Kapenta fishes.
We then ventured into the thick bushes on a steep mountain slope using a well cleared Kapenta trail stage 2. This excited Alex and Joan as we encountered an army of noisy Baboons in the thickets. They were eating mangoes which they had harvested from the nearby ITPC housing complex. It was interesting scene watching these Baboons sharing a meal in a humanly orderly manner. The little ones were feed by their protective mothers whilst the biggest male Baboon harassed the other weaker ones. We then proceeded walking through the huge Itezhi Tezhi side rocks that have withstood a test of time as they are still in good shape without any defects. Actually Itezhi Tezhi means slippery stones. We sat on one of the smooth stones for a photo shot. I told them that long time ago, this area used to be a natural sanctuary zone of rock python snakes. At the mention of pythons snakes, Joan become apprehensive and asked if there any snakes still roaming around in this area. I told them that many rock python snakes where killed by workers who were building the nearby Itezhi Tezhi hydro electricity dam. Huge Excavator machines were used to extract the big rocks from the mountain, which were blasted to small sizes and used to reinforce the dam wall. Many rock pythons were killed in the blasting process and none can be seen nowadays. This explanation seemed to have set Joan at easy. She eventually relaxed knowing now that there was no eminent danger to be attacked by any rock python snake.
We then descended to the Lake Itezhi Itezhi harbor. We saw many abandoned traditionally made canoes used by the locals in the fishing of the Kapenta small fish. As it was off fishing season, we only came across a patrol team from the Zambian department of Fisheries who were on an inspection patrol routine. As we walked closer to the very edge of the Lake and saw what looked like a floating log in the water. We avoided getting any closer to the water to avoid being attacked by a stealth croc! We surveyed the dry bed of the lake as the water was receding due to insufficient water inflow. We came across plenty dead scrub fish and snail shells. Joan collected a lot of these dry snail shells. She said she will use them at home to scrub pot. We then walked to an abandoned massive wall structure banker. It was built to stop the mountain slope soils from collapsing into the lake. The landscape around the area was green with short lawn grass, a good spot for doing a picnic. We sat on the green lawn as we looked further across the lake to behind the massive Itezhi Tezhi dam. It exciting watching huge volumes of water making its way inside the turbine of the ITPC hydro power plant to generate electricity.
We then we made our way back to CMS lodge using the same Kapenta trail. Climbing the uphill trail was a moderate physical encounter. Alex had a hard time keeping pace with the rest of us. He was panting heavily for breath and half through to the top of the mountain, we took a short break. We were all sweating profusely and quenched our thirsts with the mineral water we had carried. We were eventually saved from exhaustion from a mild rain shower downpour which kind of cooled our bodies. After we regained our composure, we proceeded with the final league of our walking safari to the lodge. When we arrived at the lodge, Alex and Joan were exhausted and immediately took cold showers. Thereafter, they took a nap for close to an hour before they took their meals. It was such an exciting way of welcoming 2021 in grand style by taking this Kapenta walking safari excursion right outside the beautiful Kafue National Park.
Christmas in Zambia is not celebrated like it is done in the rest of the world. The most important day is December 24, Christmas Eve. Many Zambians on Christmas Eve stay until midnight to celebrate together the birth of Jesus.
This Christian festivity commemorates the birth of Jesus, and is part of a 22-28 day season in the Christian calendar known as Advent. The following day 25 December is a public holiday in Zambia, as it is in a majority of countries around the world. Christmas in Zambia occurs in the summertime since the country lies in the Southern Hemisphere. It is a time of the year when the landscape greens up and becomes much more flourishing than in previous months.
Zambia is a mainly Christian country and most of the locals dress up in their Sunday best and go to church on Christmas day. During church service, songs are sung, nativity scenes are acted out and in some cases dances are performed. Children are encouraged to bring a present to church to distribute to less fortunate children living in highly impoverished locations or those in hospitals. After church service, on Christmas day, it is a custom that all children go to one house and all the adults go to another house to have a party and eat.
Christmas is also an occasion for family gatherings, exchanging gifts and feasts. Many who live in the cities return to their ancestral homelands to celebrate and may stay there for weeks. . Family or village feasts are a huge part of the celebration on the actual Christmas day on 25 December. Family members from towns would travel to the village for the festive holidays. Beef or goat meat, is a very common food eaten at this time. Other traditional foods eaten at Christmas include traditional Nshima (Corn meal) pap mixed with sour milk, and Braai barbecues are also increasingly becoming common.
When I was a boy in Hakunkula village, on Christmas Eve, we used to dance out the whole night to the African drum beats and traditional songs. Old men told little children African tale stories of how life used to be in the good olden days around the fire.
However, celebrating this year 2020 Christmas festive is envisioned to be slightly different from the many past Christmas celebrations. The reason being the harsh economic hardships that many of our people are enduring as a result of the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the health social distancing requirements still in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, it will be difficult to have the usual family gatherings at the village to celebrate Christmas as we usually do. Those in town may not manage to travel to the village due to financial hardships
May I take this opportunity to thank all my dearest followers a Merry Christmas and Happy Prosperous 2021. Without your support, my blogging would have been a futile and worthless pursuit. Indeed 2020 has been a hard and extremely challenging year to many people all around the globe on many fronts. Let us all hope for a successful 2021 to travel again to Africa, particularly to Zambia which has been rated number 6 as safest country in the world to travel to post COVID-19!
The world has received a slight glimmer of hope following months of coronavirus pandemic doom. Multinational pharmaceutical giant company Pfizer said a final analysis of its clinical-trial data showed its Covid-19 vaccine, developed with the help of the German government and Germany-based BioNTech, was 95% effective in preventing Covid-19. This may pave the way for the company to obtain regulatory authorizations for its use in few coming days. This news which made people around the world to rejoice at what could be the light at the end of the tunnel – is an early festive gift for many of us in the tourism industry here in Zambia. Never before in my entire 10+ years of tourism business operation have l ever experienced anything so catastrophic as the impact of COVD-19 pandemic on my business. With absolutely nothing to fall back on for financial survival, it is a miracle that I have made it this far to see the near end of 2020 in grand style, with only a month to go. Pfizer announcement could never have come at a better time than this. It is great sigh of relief and indeed 2021 is going to be wild!
So it is true and now I believe the common saying that those of us in the tourism industry are highly a resilient people. I wonder where this resilience comes from as the year 2020 has been a true test of endurance beyond my comfort zone. I am grateful for the emotional support I received from a lot of our travel partners overseas in terms of encouragement on how to hold on and navigate in these turbulent COVID-19 times. But my greatest moment of agony came from seeing the massive suffering my workers have been subjected to. They entirely depend on the income they earn from my tourism businesses whose operations came to a grinding halt due COVID-19 pandemic. Without any form of COVID-19 financial bailout or relief from government, it was practically impossible to give my workers any form of financial support for them to eke out a bare minimum standard of living. Our tourism business depends entirely on international tourist arrivals to sustain our business. Domestic tourism in Zambia is very minimal due to economic malaise many locals go through. Leisure tourism is the last thing on the mind of a common citizen but daily survival drill is the common norm. With ZERO tourist arrivals that we have been experiencing for the past 9 months as a result of border closures and restrictions of our big brother South Africa, the main transit route for many tourists to Zambia, it has been a living hell for us as there has been no income coming in. I tried the Face Book COVID-19 financial relief support program. Unfortunately our region was not included in their mapping for eligibility to receive any financial support. Cry my beloved country in the real African hot sun! Only the very fittest survive.
So the best I could do to support my workers financially was to engage in vegetable gardening and sale the produce to the local market. But not all of the workers are interested in vegetable gardening as an alternative source of income as it is very labour intensive. So others opted to joining fishing cooperatives in Lake Itezhi Tezhi of the Kafue River. Sadly others resorted to making charcoal used for providing energy in cooking by engaging in massive tree cutting in Namwala and Mumbwa Game Management Area (GMA).
Anyway with so much happening in the medical field, I remain optimistic that come 2021, it is going to be wild. We are likely to receive many international tourists here in Zambia after a full year absence. We in the Kafue National Park, are more than ready to receive our guests with hearty Zambian smile. If you’re looking to travel to Africa soon and wondering about where to go, what to see, and how to do it all sustainably, look no further: we have your guide to sustainable tourism in Kafue National Park right here in Zambia. Kafue National Park is a big, beautiful place, and there’s something incredible to see around every corner. You could travel every day for six months and still not manage to find everything it has to offer!
Kafue National Park is in the center of western Zambia. It is the oldest and largest national park in Zambia. It is also one of the largest in Africa. It covers a total area of 22,400 kilometres squared or 8000 miles squared. It is so expansive that it has vast tracts of wilderness that are untouched and unexplored. It has more species of ungulates than any other national park in Africa. It has a number of the blue and yellow backed duckier, antelopes, sable and hartebeests among many others. It was established by the renowned conservationist, Norman Carr in 1955 as a game reserve and soon was turned into a game park. In the recent years, Kafue National Park has experienced a surge of tourism due to the increasing lodgings being set up around it which has increased its popularity.
Livingstone is a city in Southern Province of Zambia. It is the disputed capital of Zambia’s fast growing tourism scene. Until 2012, it served as the province’s capital. Lying 10 km (6.2 mi) to the north of the Zambezi River, it is a tourism center for the Victoria Falls and a border town with road and rail connections to Zimbabwe on the other side of the Victoria Falls.
A historic British colonial city, its present population was enumerated at 134,349 inhabitants at the 2010 census. It is named after David Livingstone, the Scottish explorer and missionary who was the first European to explore the area.
The range of activities around Victoria Falls is truly amazing, whether you want to relax and take it easy, or pump adrenaline like there is no tomorrow. Within a few hours, you can go rafting, canoeing or bungee jumping, watch elephants and rhinos in the dry savanna, get soaked to the skin in the lush rainforest, or sip chilled wine on the deck of a boat at sunset. There’s a good choice of places to stay, some laid-back cafes and bars, and a humming nightlife. There is a tourist Information centre near the Livingstone museum which has all the information brochures you might need to assist you explore Livingstone.
The main road axis epicentre of Livingstone is the Mosi-oa-Tunya road. The northern section of the road is lined up with shops, banks, bureau de Change, offices, immigration office and nice upmarket places to eat from such as ocean basket. The main banks are First National Bank (FNB), ABSA bank and Standard Chartered. It is advisable to change your Forex at a bureau de Change as their rates are far much better and the service efficient. About halfway down on the north side is the main post office. The town fizzles out once you get past the rail station with few recently built eating places and hotels. But the main road keeps heading south Victoria Falls, 11 kms away.
The Livingstone museum is one interesting place you should consider visiting. It is surprising large, neat and tidy. Interesting exhibits includes archaeological Tonga exhibits and crafts.
If you do not have time to explore the greater Livingstone city, at least make sure you get to visit Victoria Falls especially on the Zambian side. Victoria Falls lies between Zambia and Zimbabwe (the Zimbabwe River is the border). The Victoria Falls is one of the world’s most famous and most impressive, natural wonders. No trip to Zambia is complete without marveling at the plunging water, getting soaked by the spray, and of course catching the famous rainbow on the water falls. On the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls, you will follow narrow footpaths through the tropical forest and cross a dramatic footbridge to reach spectacular viewpoints almost touching the falling water. The view of the falls is awesome, and the statistics are impressive. Victoria Falls is 1.7 km wide, and over 100m high. A million litres of water per second plunge over the edge of the Victoria Falls.
When I narrated the bad experience I suffered at the hands of Angola government security forces in the most interior bushes of Kuando Kubango province of the neighboring Angola to my late father, he was shocked and not amused at all with my story. My father got very upset and scolded me for undertaking such a dangerous journey to little known country of Angola in terms of tourism. Of course his reaction was well understood as that of a loving parent who almost lost a beloved son in a war torn country of Angola.
I set out on a leisure adventure journey to Shangombo, one of the remotest villages in Western Province of Zambia. Shangombo is a gate way to southern part of Angola. The village lies on the borderline between two water bodies of Zambezi river of Zambia and Kwando or Cuando river of Rivungu district of Angola. The journey to Shangombo was both captivating and a lifetime experience for me who loves extreme adventure. But my journey into Angola was a risky journey that I should never have undertaken in the first place. I must admit that it was a reckless decision on my part to plan and undertake this journey to Angola. I was fully aware that Angola had just come out of a protracted 27 years of civil war. It is a miracle that I am alive today to narrate this horrific story.
I left Lusaka, the political capital city of Zambia late in the afternoon on board a public bus for Shangombo, situated at Zambia’s border with Angola. I travelled through Mongu, the provincial headquarters of western province of Zambia up to Senanga where I spent a night in a lodge. The following day late in the afternoon, I got on a weather beaten open Landrover van and pitched right on top the roof rack. The vehicle was fully loaded with various goods for those on board, most of them small trade vendors. We then embarked on a long rough stretch bumpy sandy road through Sioma district driving through the Zambezi floodplains for close to three to four hours.
We finally arrived in Shangombo village the following day in the morning after driving through thick forest the whole night. My first impression of Shangombo village was that of a place far much better than what the print media in Zambia portrayed it as a backward place. Shangombo has decent modern looking houses for Zambian government civil servants. It has a recently built a rural district administration centre with electricity, all powered by diesel generator. There is a modern post office and a modest district hospital located right in the middle of the village. But the place has plenty of mosquitoes because of its close proximity to Zambezi and Cuando rivers. One’s reaction to mosquitoes helps locals to easily identify who is a visitor to the area. While the locals are used to mosquitoes singing in their ears, the scenario is rather irritating for a first time visitor who constantly has to flap their hands in the area to blow away the mosquitoes. The comforting part is that these mosquitoes are not malaria carriers, otherwise the malaria prevalence could have been high in this area. However, despite the experience with mosquitoes, the people of Shangombo are friendly and extremely accommodating.
After a week’s stay in Shangombo, I got a family visitor’s pass from the Zambia Immigration authorities that permitted me to cross over the Cuando River to Rivungu town on the Angolan side. I, together with other travelers used a traditional banana boat that was loaded with assortment of goods to cross the fast water moving Cuando River which took us close to two hours to complete. Upon docking on Angolan soil, we reported ourselves to a makeshift grass thatched Angola immigration post. To my total shock, I noticed that the immigration officer and the soldier brandishing a gun who were manning the post and who attended to us where both totally drunk. Yes, drunk on duty! Their speech was totally incoherent and they spoke only Portuguese and Ngangela, a local language spoken on both the Angolan and Zambian side. We were literally verbally harassed to tell these officers what was our true intention of visiting Angola was. We were only saved from further embarrassing interrogation by the intervention of a Zambian lady in our company who seemed to know these two officers very well. She chided them to behave well and to let us go on with our journey. The power of a woman prevailed over these two officers who finally stamped our border passes and allowed us to proceed to Rivungu.
Rivungu is indeed a former war-zone area. My first sighting impression of Rivungu was that of a place where rubble of cement debris are dumped from a busy construction site. It has many half collapsed buildings riddled with bullet holes as a direct result of the civil war. The Rivungu local administration offices are housed in traditional African huts. A white Landrover was parked in front of the office of the Rivungu District Commissioner (DC). We were all marshaled into the reception area of the District Commissioner’s office and the DC himself met us in person for further interrogation. We were all ordered to write our full names in the white book in the reception area. He sternly warned us to behave well whilst visiting Rivungu. The same lady who had previously assisted us at the Angola border post was summoned inside the DC’s office for what turned out to be hours on end of interrogation. When she eventually emerged from the DC’s office, she signaled us to walk over to an African market. There we we found an old military KAMAZ truck waiting for us to board.
At sunset, we set out on one of the most gruesome journey into thick forest, following riverbeds used as roads heading to Mavinga. Mavinga once served as a military headquarter base for rebel leader Dr. Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA rebel movement, but now a government military base. We were packed like logs of wood in the truck together with goats. We traveled for good two days and three nights and experienced numerous mechanical breakdowns of the KAMAZ truck before reaching Mavinga. I stayed at the Mavinga District Commissioner’s official residence during my entire three months stay in Mavinga. In the second week after my arrival, I was attacked by a serious bout of malaria and was bed ridden for close to two weeks, losing plenty kgs of body weight overnight. Being a special guest of the Mavinga DC, I was referred to be attended to by a special medical team, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) that was treating senior military officers at the local military base. I was well attended to and looked after by MSF doctors who were happy to attend to a patient who spoke fluent English. After three weeks of personal medical attention, I was certified medically fit and ready to continue with my journey to Menogue, the provincial headquarters of Kuando Kubango (KK) province.
On one bright day, I bade farewell to my hoist family of the Mavinga district commissioner after three months of my stay and was about to start on the final league of my trip to Menogue. The DC had arranged for me to take a lift in a military aircraft that brings various goods from Menogue for the soldiers on monthly basis.
Little did I know that some senior military officers in the area had become suspicious of my three months special visit to Mavinga. Their suspicion was even stronger looking at the VIP treatment I had been accorded by the Mavinga DC. During my entire stay, I had an armed body guard who escorted me everywhere I went around in Mavinga for personal protection, including any visit to the local African market. So these senior military officers were looking for an opportunity to capture me away from the DC’s presence. So once the DC’s driver had left me at the local airstrip and returned to the DC’s office, I was ambushed and quickly surrounded by some military policemen and pushed into the waiting military plane. When I tried to call for the local DC’s presence to help me explain my circumstances, I was told curtly “NO CHANCE” by my captors. Desperation and fear set in and that was the beginning of real trouble for me that lasted for two months. I was told to produce and show my travelling document to the military policemen. I showed them my stamped border pass and Zambian passport which had my six months Angolan VISA endorsed in by the Angolan Embassy in Botswana. All the travelling documents I produced and showed them where dismissed as false and fake. They said I was a spy mercenary for the Mavinga DC who had just recently been incorporated into government service from UNITA rebel movement.
I was bundled into a tight jump-chair in the co-pit of the plane surrounded by military policemen. The military aircraft piloted by Cuban soldiers took off for Menongue, the provincial headquarters of Kuando Kubango. On arrival, I was handed over to the local military command. All contents of my bags where emptied on the floor and thoroughly searched. As fate would have it, I was fortunate to be allowed to spend my first night in a rundown makeshift guest house within Menogue town infested with many rats that terrorized me at night and whilst all my luggage remained at the police station. I was told to report the following morning at the station for further interrogations. Each time l reported at the police station, I was merely told to sit on a bench outside and nobody ever called me inside for further questioning. I spent close to four months staying in Menogue and reporting myself to the local military command daily without my case being concluded.
One cool day, I was summoned in the office of the officer commanding. I was told to find means to return to my home country Zambia without my case being concluded. I was frail and weak after close to six months of forced stay in Angola with extremely poor diet and contaminated drinking water. I was anxious to return home to be see my family in Zambia who I had not contacted or spoken to in a very long time. I then visited the local Menogue church of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) and approached the local pastor for material and financial assistance. After listening to my story, the pastor invented me to stay with his family in his church house as they looked around for ways to assist me return home. I stayed with the Pastor and his family for a full month and some days. Every Sabbath, I attended church where a special appeal was always made about my plight and request to assist me financially was made. It was interesting to see some of those military officers who had interrogated me at the local police station attending the same church with me. Some befriended me and requested me to teach them learn how to write and speak English which I did every evening. The little money that they paid me assisted me to buy a few personal necessities. After a month, the church managed to mobilize some financial resources amounting to $50 to enable me travel home. As the money was not sufficient, one church member offered to give me a free ride in his bus transport that plies the route between Angola and Namibian border. Once I reached, the Angolan border, I had problems of how to exit Angola as my permitted days of stay in Angola had long expired due to my prolonged stay. It took the skillfull negotiation effort of my escortee with the Angola immigration officers that I was finally allowed to leave Angola and proceed to the Namibian border. Once at the Namibian border, it was such a great sigh of relief for me that l was being attended to by an immigration officer who spoke to me in English, unlike in Angola where I struggled most of the time to communicate in portuguese. After being cleared by immigration, I was given a further $10 as pocket money by my escortee. I proceeded to the nearest Namibian town of Katui Tui where I saw the world of civilization. I quickly rushed to the nearest restaurant and bought myself a hot burger and a 1 liter bottle of Fanta that l galloped at once down my throat.
When I reached my home town in Zambia, I found my wife and daughter had vacated our rented house and where staying with friends for support. Upon seeing me, my wife shade tears of joy.
The lesson I have learnt from this sad travel episode is that before travelling to a new country, one needs to do enough research on the safety status of that country. My trip to Angola has left an unforgettable bad experience on my mind in the name of seeking adventure in a foreign country with insufficient country tourism information .