Africa — Part 1 — Livingstone, Zambia

As we have said before, this job assignment in Tokyo came with some travel opportunities. And… as the spouse on this assignment, I sometimes get to accompany my husband on these trips. The latest trip — last week — was to Africa. I will do this post in two parts, because his meetings were in two countries: Livingstone, Zambia, and Cape Town, South Africa. This post will be about our time in Zambia.

First of all… Zambia is in a malaria area, so some preparation is required. We visited a travel clinic in Minato-ku, Tokyo, and they were very helpful, giving us anti-malaria tablets to take while we were in Zambia (and one week after) and providing us with insect repellent, and a very ingenious mesh mosquito jacket to wear when we were out in the bush.

We left Tokyo on Singapore Airlines to fly to Singapore, and then on to Johannesburg, South Africa. At Johannesburg, we took a flight on South African Airways to take us back north to Livingstone, Zambia.

On arrival, I guess we were somewhat surprised by the size of Livingstone. They have an international airport there, but with only one gate, and only have a half dozen flights out of this airport each day. It is a nice airport, but very small.

At Livingstone, we met our driver, and he took us to our hotel — the Protea. We had nice accommodations… the hotel had an open air lobby and restaurant/bar, and our room was supplied with mosquito repellent. Malaria is a real risk here. You ALWAYS begin your day with sunscreen and mosquito repellent.

While my husband was in business meetings, I met with the other spouses, and we sampled Livingstone… we wandered through the markets, and the downtown area. Livingstone is not a big city — the city named for Dr. David Livingstone (I presume!) — the missionary from the London Missionary Society. The population is less than 150,000, and the entire city has only ONE traffic light.

It was an amazing place… raw, and wild. It was interesting to see the people, and the way that they lived, though it is somewhat disturbing to me to see tin shacks, and dirt-floor homes, while others are staying and living in modern homes and hotels within gated walls and razor wire. The people I met in the market where wonderfully kind, and friendly… just trying to sell their items, and make a living for their families.

On the weekend we had opportunities to tour some of the local sites: most notably Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River, and the game parks around Livingstone. So much to see, and such a beautiful and unspoiled place!

The waterfall near Livingstone on the Zambezi River, called Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke That Thunders) in the Lozi language, was renamed Victoria Falls by Dr. David Livingstone in honor of Queen Victoria. Dr. Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to be the first European to view the falls in 1855. There is a statue of him in the park near the falls.

Victoria Falls is considered to be the largest waterfall in the world, although it is not as wide as Niagara/Horseshoe Falls on the US/Canada border, and not as tall as Angel Falls in Venezuela. Combining both width and height, Victoria Falls becomes the largest sheet of falling water in the world.

It is actually difficult to understand the size of this waterfall from the ground. Visibility is sometimes poor due to the amount of mist surrounding the falls. If you go, be sure and take a raincoat! We walked along the Zambian side of the falls and got spectacular views. The Zambezi River forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

As we flew out of Livingstone headed for the next meeting in Cape Town, the pilot banked and circled around the falls so that everyone on the plane could get a good aerial view of the Zambezi and Victoria Falls. Incredible.

Also while in Livingstone, we visited Mukuni Big 5 Cheetah Farm and got to pet (and walk on a leash!) two rescued cheetahs. Beautiful animals!

We went on a “Game Drive” through the Mosi National Park…

And spent a day fishing for Tiger Fish on the Zambezi River.

You can probably guess why they are called Tiger Fish… This one seemed to be missing a few of his teeth, though.

There were many hippos in the shallows, and we steered clear of them. Hippos kill more people in Africa than any other animal. They can easily capsize a fishing boat.
And we saw several large crocodiles. This one sunning himself on the Zimbabwe bank of the river, looked to be about 8 to 10 feet long. As we passed by, he slipped back into the water.
This large herd of elephants came out on the Zimbabwe bank while we were taking our lunch break. They splashed around in the water, and soon wandered back into the trees.
The Zambezi River is a wide river with many islands. The current in places is strong and fast, and the bottom is rocky. We saw rapids and whirlpools… but parts of the river were beautifully calm.

All in all, it was an experience of a lifetime. Beautiful scenery, friendly people, amazing wildlife, and interesting cultures. Despite the long 24+ hour travel days to and from Tokyo, it was well worth the visit, and we hope to return someday.

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My husband and I were both born and raised in Kansas, but for the past 20+ years we have been living in Atlanta, Georgia. Now, with our children grown and out of the house, we have the opportunity to spend two years living in Tokyo. My husband will be working with the Japanese counterpart to his American company. UPDATE 2023... After 4-1/2 years in Tokyo, we returned to Atlanta. Now we are heading to London for a three year job assignment!

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