Friday, 20 October 2017

Leaving Zambia

As I sit by the camp fire overlooking the Luangwa river that separates Zambia from Mozambique, I reflect on my last three weeks in the country formerly known as Northern Rhodesia. Tomorrow I will cross the border at Chipata and head into Malawi, waving a fond farewell to this little country with its big charm. I certainly hope to be back someday. Perhaps however, it will be in the cooler months next time around!

Zambia has its problems. It is one of the poorest countries in the world with a life expectancy of just 49 years old.  The deforestation due to its rapid population increase and charcoal usage, as well as its over dependency on copper, is stripping the country of its natural resources and leaving its people, wildlife, and economy, exceptionally vulnerable. It is no wonder Zambia has so much illegal wildlife trafficking. The Chinese are always at hand to buy more than the odd pangolin or illegally poached elephant tusk, and who can blame the local man who steals them to feed his starving children? The problem, as ever, is global and it’s going to take a lot of time and hard work to put it right.

Thankfully there are a lot of people here who are willing to put the time in. I have been exceptionally
lucky to meet some wonderful people, and dedicated conservationists in my short time here. Most of whom have given up their comfortable lives back home to head for the less convenient Zambia, in the hope of making a difference. Of course, there are always the stunning sunsets, the friendly people and the diverse wildlife to come for – but it’s certainly not an easy life choice. The strength, dedication and love for the cause really does shine through in this hard working, fun-loving community of ex-pats.

I have been spoilt rotten since I stepped foot across the border from Botswana. This has led to the odd feeling of guilt. I should be roughing it surely? The Zambian community, both bikers and ex-pats alike, would hear nothing of the sort. With a dodgy shoulder, and Welsh blood boiling in the ever-increasing heat and humidity, I was taken in and overwhelmed with kindness, good humour, soft pillows and copious amounts of whiskey! I only had to put my tent up once across the entire length of the country. Rhonda too, was taken care of and I feel like we are both coming out the other side having had a good overhaul of our major components – ready to take on the rest of Africa, and whatever it may throw at us!

I have to say a massive thank you to Marianne and Remco who welcomed this strange woman into their home in Lusaka and offered me a bed and company for as long as I needed it. I felt very much at home as soon as I arrived and before I knew it we were heading deep into the bush for some awesome 4x4 action. The Elephant Charge is a great event put on by conservationists to raise money for a handful of wildlife projects and also for the local community. I think I might have to bring my Dad over next year to compete! He would have loved that course. Big up to the only bike team to take part as well! What a course to do on a bike! Massive respect! It was far too extreme in places for me! I take my helmet off to you.

From roughing it in the bush (if you can call eating steak and drinking cold beer roughing it!), we had a quick turnaround back in Lusaka and then rushed off again for
a couple of relaxing days at Mukambi Lodge. This is real luxury bush camping. Situated right on the river in the heart of the Kafue National Park, this is the place that dreams are made of. Elephants, lions, hyenas and hippos roam free and the sounds at night while you are safely tucked in your four-poster bed are magical (Check out the African Adventure page for more info). Marianne and I enjoyed a game drive (where the highlight was 5 lion cubs), sunset river boat cruise (with rather large G&T’s), and on our last morning we had to tip toe around a big bull elephant to get to our breakfast! We were in heaven! Really. If you get the opportunity to go there – DO! Kafue National Park is one of the largest unspoilt wildernesses in the world and is worth seeing! Zambia needs more tourism too! 

Back in the hustle and bustle of Lusaka, I met up with the Zambezi bikers. What a great bunch! These guys took me for brecci and offered me some contacts along the way. The final surprise was from Ginty (a retired bike racer who still seems to have his hand in anything bike or petrol related). As I was heading towards the Malawi border, Ginty messages me and says that he has managed to get me a complimentary room at the rather posh Protea Hotel in Chipata. The perfect pit stop before crossing into Malawi and of course, the perfect end to my stay in Zambia. I really am spoilt now! I don’t think I have ever had so many luxury stops! I expect it to get back to basics after this so I am making the most of it and very very grateful for the kindness shown to this scruffy straggler! You are all welcome in my caravan in Wales anytime you like (Mum get the kettle on!).

My last ride in the country was a beautiful one. The roads were in great condition and the countryside stretched out for miles around me in the cool morning breeze. Dotted with rustic villages and the usual fruit stalls, I pottered on through waving to the kids as I went. I felt relaxed and happy. My shoulder wasn’t even hurting. All that luxury living had paid off! The thing that made me stop though was the sight of some kids selling cooked mice on a stick!! Not something I had seen before. Tempting as it was to try, I decided against it, but gave them a few Kwatcha anyway.

Another African country that just isn't that scary! Who'd have thought! 😼

Tomorrow I see what Malawi has in store for me!

Thanks so much to Honda Zambia for giving Rhonda a free service. Thank you to Robyn and Etienne for my stay at Mukambi lodge. Special thanks once again to Ian in Livingtone, Remco and Marianne who put me up and fed me, and of course big hugs to the Zambezi bikers and everyone who has made my time here extremely memorable. 

See you next time around! 


  1. glad the red carpet is being rolled out for ya!

  2. Glad you are enjoying yourself Steph.. We are currently in our caravan in Bala with storm Brian battering at the windows.

  3. Magic Steph. What a top part of the journey Zambia was. Love/appreciate the background info on the country too.

  4. Go Steph! After 6 1/2 continents of riding, We are happy to see you have been able to enjoy a bit of luxury along the way. What spectacular side trips! We are looking into a trip to Zambia right away!

    Craig & Azadeh
    San Jose, CA

  5. You're a great ambassador, Steph, for Wales, motorcycling, and tourism. I'm looking forward to the book!

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