From : Times.co.zm

By : GETHSEMANE MWIZABI

29 August 2012

BRITISH explorer David Lemon who is walking the entire length of the Zambezi River has made significant progress in his epic journey to explore Africa’s fourth longest river. He has reached Livingstone.

After working over 1130km from the river source at Ikeleng’i, Mwinilunga in North-Western Province, the modern day David Livingstone has set foot on Zambia’s tourist capital, which is named after his model Scottish explorer and missionary David Livingstone.

He began his ambitious “Cowbell Trek” in April this year. Despite the Angola visa hiccup that took 10 days off his journey at the beginning, Mr Lemon has described his one man exploration as defining and refining so far.

After being denied a visa into Angola where the river passes before it enters Zambia again, his journey took a new twist. He walked the entire length of the Zambia-Angolan border from Jimbe (where he was denied entry into Angola), up to a point where the river gets into Zambia.

He has put that behind him, and now he walked all the way to Livingstone following the Zambezi.

“I have met some few black mambas and elephants along the way. The people in the villages I have passed have been so good to me,” he said.

In Livingstone he has been hosted by Wild Side Tours, owned by Karien Kermer.

The Zambezi is the fourth-longest river in Africa and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from that continent.

The area of its basin is 1,390,000 square kilometres (540,000 sq miles), slightly less than half that of the Nile. The 3,540-kilometre-long river has its source at Mwinilunga in the North-Western corner of Zambia and flows through Angola, along the borders of Namibia, Botswana, into Zambia again, where it borders Zimbabwe then on to Mozambique, where it empties into the Indian Ocean at a tiny settlement called Chinde.

Walking through the Barotse plains, from Ikeleng’i all the way to Livingstone, is indeed an adventure in odyssey.

Reaching Livingstone has put a big smile on his face as it represents slightly half of his journey remaining to reach Chinde in Mozambique where the river empties into the Indian Ocean.

He declared before the start of his epic journey, “I am going to walk the entire length of the Zambezi River”.

Indeed, he is determined make history. By walking the entire length of the Zambezi River; he intends to become the first person in recorded history to walk the entire length of the river that is synonymous with lots of things in southern Africa.

In Livingstone, he saw the Victoria Falls, which was  named after Queen Victoria, by famous Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone who was amazed by it splendor Musi-O-Tunya, translated in English as the smoke that thunders.

His mission is to highlight the plight of elephants which he says have become an increasingly endangered species in southern Africa.

He is acquainted with Southern Africa for the simple reason that a large position of his life was spent in this part of the world.

He lived and worked in Zimbabwe as a police officer in the colonial era before he became a writer. It is no wonder he is documenting every little detail of his journey.

Although, he is based in the United Kingdom (UK), he calls himself a Zimbabwean, which is why his safari bag has a Zimbabwean flag tag on it.

Now, as he starts climbing to the north from Livingstone, there are obvious dangers of the terrain, which in many cases are extremely rough and would, necessitate steep, enervating climbs and precipitate descents, when falling could well prove fatal.

In the Lower Zambezi Valley, there might be the problem of traversing very thick bushes, with the attendant dangers of bumping into vicious elephants, lions, buffaloes, hippopotamus or other wild animals that could cause problems to the unwary.

The main dangers facing anyone who walks the Zambezi  are crocodiles and mosquitoes. Crocodiles are as numerous as grains of sand in all sections of the river and there are several mosquitoes throughout the region. Prophylactics will have to be taken and a wary eye kept for crocs when anywhere near the river itself.

True, snakes abound in the Zambezi Valley and some of these, such as the  mamba or the cobra are deadly, so once again, one has to be extremely careful as he conquers the surrounding terrain.

But, Mr Lemon is very determined to make it through to the end despite all these stumbling blocks.

“I know how to survive in that sort of countryside and despite my advanced age – or perhaps because of it – I have both the experience and the knowledge to get me through such a walk,” he told United Kingdom (UK) few months before he started the marathon journey.

His next stop would be Siavonga before he proceeds to Chirundu.

He estimates that the entire journey will take him ten months, but as with any adventure of this nature, such timings are purely speculative and it could take a great deal longer.

Being an experienced bush, traveler he is fallowing the river with lots of curiosity.

He may avoid walking through the gorges like Songwe, few kilometers away from Chief Mukini’s village,  but he would definitely be keeping an eye on the river even if means seeing it from the distance.

The 67 year old adventurer has been surviving off what he has been carrying, like Cowbell milk. His sponsors, Promasider resupply him with nutrition at different intervals of his journey.

“We are happy with the progress David is making. He is putting Zambia on the map and for us, we are happy to be a part of this historical venture,” said Promasidor’s making Officer David Shula, who was part of the Cowbell team that just linked up with the explorer in Livingstone.

As the Chinese say, a journey of a thousand miles, is begun by one step, David Lemon is out to make history.

Several years from now, like his model David Livingstone, he would be an important historical fact future generations will constantly refer too.

He would not claim his place in history by default, but by merit.