Today was going to be a tough day. 470km to Livingstone. Our GPS indicated that this would take us approximately 6 hours. Our GPS does not keep track of donkeys, bicycles and goats though … *Giggle*
We got an early start at Eureka Camp and started our journey to Livingstone. At Bridge Camp, we chatted briefly to Gareth and Tracy who stayed over at Livingstone when they visited the Victoria Falls. We complained about the noisy overcrowded Victoria Waterfront Lodge where we stayed on our way to Malawi. They experienced the same and opted for looking at some other options. They came upon “The Bushfront Lodge” where the camping grounds was situated well away from the chalets, green grass, huge trees, plenty of shade and excellent ablutions. We made a note and decided we would go and have a look at the place when we get to Livingstone.
As with the drive up to Lusaka when we came, we again encountered so many small baby tortoise on the road … slowly making their way from one side of the road to the other. Always in the same direction – all of them. And of course, this is a busy route – one that gets used by SO many trucks. My heart sunk every time I saw one … knowing that it will not make it across. We still don’t know why this occurred. Some of the locals say that moving tortoise is an indication of plenty of rains to come …
On the other hand, this time round, we saw zillions of millipede crossing the road as well – opposite side as to what the tortoise were doing. Puzzling.
We had rainy conditions on the road – and for some distance the road conditions were terrible. Huge potholes, and in some instances a complete disintegration of tar.
We arrived at Livingstone at 13:00 and immediately went to The Bushfront Lodge. We were wacked – tired. We just wanted to set up camp and chill.
The Bushfront Lodge reception looks like a five star hotel – and the staff engages you in a five star manner. Seeing that we did the Chobe sunset cruise on our way to Malawi, we opted for doing the sunset cruise on the Zambezi this time round. We asked the receptionist at The Bushfront if they catered for these cruises and he said all events in Livingstone are outsourced to a local company who managed this. He will book us seats on the sunset cruise and a mini bus will come and pick us up at our camping site at 3:30. Enough time for us to set up camp, freshen up and change. We waited for the bus – still under the impression the “boat” would be similar to what we had on the Chobe – flat motorboat with basic seating.
At exactly 3:30 a big mini bus, beautifully branded, stopped next to our Landy and picked us up. It was PACKED with others also booked for the sunset cruise. Still … Pieter and I thought nothing of this … The air con and friendly guide was refreshing … still no indication that we were in for a treat.
The drive to the landing where the boats are launched took about 10 minutes of dead silence in the mini bus. Pieter and I were the only Afrikaans speaking couple – the rest were foreigners. Gossiping in Afrikaans in a packed mini bus is SO rewarding!!
We reached our destination and were greeted with typical African hospitality. African song and dance – SO not what we are used to. We stood out from the rest who thought it was very entertaining.
We paid for the cruise at the reception office and then made our way to the boat … which turned out to be “The African Queen”. True story. I kid you not. We were greeted by the cabin staff (and this is where Pieter pulled out the tickets to make 100% sure we were on the right boat). I just giggled … pulled up my trousers and fiddled with my very flimsy t-shirt (feeling SO underdressed). We got to sit on the ground section – in the most amazing comfortable chairs – with our own table, and own waitress. We felt like royalty. The African Queen is the largest boat on the Zambezi – and we were sitting on her deck.
Our waitress came round and showed us the complimentary menu for drinks – and typical, Pieter and I did not flip it round to see the drinks were also accompanied by complimentary finger food. After placing the order for our drinks, Pieter casually (whilst the waitress was standing next to me) asked me if I wanted a packed of peanuts. The waitress must have thought we were idiots – not accustomed to anything posh. Luckily I declined the packed of peanuts – I would have looked like the biggest idiot because minutes after the boats started up the engine, the waiters brought the freshest most tasteful bowl of local sourced peanuts to our table to snack on whist they prepared our finger food.
The sunset cruise on the Zambesi is different from the Chobe – and cannot be compared. The African Queen is big … and oooooh sooooo slow. There are more boats on the Zambezi late afternoon than we are used to – having done the Chobe sunset cruise. BUT – the finger food made up for ANYTHING that was different. It was A.Maaaaaazing.
The cruise took us down the Zambezi at a very slow pace – stopping at spotted hippos, some crocodiles and then turning around just as the sun is about to set. Unfortunately it was a cloudy day, otherwise we would have been the proud owners of magnificent sunset Zambezi photos.
Afterwards the mini bus dropped us off right at our camping site, stayed until we switched on the lights and opened up our tent before leaving to drop off the rest of the passengers.
Still today Pieter and I joke about the “packet of peanuts”, but gosh, what an experience!
The ablutions at The Bushfront are divided into two parts – each having a men’s and ladies section. The shower is huge and also has two spaces where you can sit and shower. Very clean, very neat and well thought through.
During the night we had NO outside noise whatsoever. We had another camper come in whilst we were on the boat cruise, but apart from them we were the only campers.
However, during the day it is not as quiet and peaceful. Because of all the activities on the Zambesi and the Victoria Waterfalls, the sky is filled with micro-light aircraft, helicopters etc.
Later during the night our watchman came round, introduced himself and informed us he would be watching over us for the night. Still amazes us that we get looked after soonest we exit South Africa and enter the rest of Africa.
After a nice hot shower, we got into bed and discussed the option of not staying over at Kubu Lodge in Botswana, but pushing on to Nata Lodge seeing that we had done the sunset cruise on the Zambezi side. We decided that we would cross the border, fill up with diesel in Kasane and push on for Nata the next day.