We had a very heartfelt response to an article we put up out several days ago, ‘Falling for Livingstone’.
The reader, a local Zambian, wrote as follows.
Being quite beside all the swanky lodges and hotels that have sprung up along the lovely banks of the Zambezi, there are over forty B&B’s and reasonably priced camps in Livingstone. Stay in any of these for a fraction of the price of these swanky places and still enjoy the attractions and local culture of this amazing jewel of an African town, Livingstone.Named after the famous Scottish missionary who ‘founded’ it, the area has of course been important to Africans for thousands of years, mainly due to plenty of water, bounteous game, rich red soil, and of course the grandeur of the Victoria Falls.
The country has enjoyed civil peace throughout its journey from British governance fifty-odd years ago.
Zambian people are among the nicest you can hope to meet as a traveler. As a rule, Zambians are warm, friendly and laid back, and they just love their mobile phones! (You will get excellent mobile coverage just about anywhere in Zambia.)
Although there are lots of tourist-entry sites to Zambian cultural life, the most enriching thing you can do is to engage with local people as you meet them, more often than not, over a cold Mosi beer in a club or restaurant.
Zambia is one of two countries, along with Botswana, that has just banned trophy hunting completely and the opportunities for game watching are up there with the best. What is more, there is an amazing level of interaction with wild game animals. Elephant are everywhere, wandering through your camp site, loitering on the side of the road to the airport and occasionally wandering into town!
The town is small but important, the main street is lined with interesting Art Deco buildings implanted by the British, and the juxtaposition with a warm, dusty African day is intriguing and should lead you to ask questions about the legacy of European expansionism – not all of it awful, but often very strange.
The Victoria Falls itself, about 8km from town heading south, is of course a spectacular wonder of the world … If you have the nerve, you can now swim, safely, in natural swimming holes quite literally on the very edge of the Falls, or park a chair out on the rocks ‘a la coin de deluge’, as they say, and just stare at a million litres of pure water charging over the edge while you ponder your little life and questions of mortality.
If real action and adventure sport is your thing, you’ll be joining hundreds of thousands of global backpackers who’ve made a special journey to Livingstone to bungee-jump off the Falls Bridge, or kayak and raft on the whitewater rapids below.
You don’t go to Africa looking for Paris-style cuisine, but if you stick to the simple things on offer, you will not be disappointed. Most fresh foods in Zambia are grown organically, for economic reasons, as much as anything else, and if you are a meat and potatoes person, then you will be in for a treat. I had forgotten what a ‘real’ potato tasted like until I went back home for a visit. Eggs taste like eggs and tomatoes the way they were when you were a kid. Zambians prefer white maize to yellow, and although it’s chewy, the flavour of a fresh cob barbecued over coals is hard to beat. If you’re a porridge eater, then try the white maize ‘nshima’ (polenta) that is scooped up with greens and gravy, simple but delicious.
So, if you were a traveller and you’d like to get a feel for a mature African country enjoying and developing its natural wealth on all fronts while still doing things in its own, African way… then Zambia is the most marvellous entry point.
Please keep your comments coming and where applicable they will be published.
Date: 23 April 2013