There’s this wonderful long weekend in July where you can piece together an American holiday (umm, that would be the one you know about…the 4th of July) and then the ever popular Zambian holidays, Heroes Day and Unity Day. I can’t really tell you what Heroes were celebrated on Heroes Day (nor can any Zambians). And Unity Day? I guess Unity Day is a day that people rest. I can get into that…
Anyway, for this long weekend I headed north. Having lived in the Western Province for my first year and then “the big city” this last year, I hadn't ventured too far into other parts of Zambia so I was eager to do some snooping around. Two girlfriends and I had put together a 4 day travel adventure that would have us leaving Lusaka on Friday and returning the following week on Tuesday and driving about 10 hours north (northeast) of Lusaka. We packed up the car and were ready for our adventure (if you would have seen how many bags of chips we packed you would have thought we were three 13 year old girls going to camp)? But, really, who can go on a road trip without junk food?
Anyway, the first night we stayed at our friend’s house (well, her grandmother’s house) in a village just outside of Mpika. Unfortunately, we arrived quite late and were a bit zombie-like so didn’t get to enjoy much of the village hospitality. We simply crawled under the blankets and passed out but not before enjoying the stars. So many stars. The next morning we had to get up early and get on the road to make it to our next destination for a guided tour. That very loud rooster who would not quiet down came in handy in waking us up early the next morning. It took us about 2 hours to drive to the Shiwangandu Manor
(http://www.shiwangandu.com/). It’s this strange British colonial house sitting in the middle of nowhere that has a rich history (you can read about the history on the website if you are interested) but basically this adventurous British man landed in Zambia looking for a place to settle as he was also trying to find the border between the Congo and Zambia. We actually ended up staying at the Impandala farmhouse which sits on the property (about 3km away from the main house). It was a beautiful old farmhouse with two spacious rooms and a huge kitchen where we could cook our own food (like we needed more food after eating all those chips…)!
There’s a natural hot springs not too far from the farmhouse where we spent the afternoon. It was pretty spectacular to be able to bask in the warm water and sink your toes in the sand (and I’ll admit we were doing this while drinking a cold beer). We then drove back to the old farmhouse where we slept almost 12 hours…it was probably the best night of sleep I have had in the last year. Maybe it was the comfy bed or the quietness or the relaxing day. Whatever it was…if I need to get a good night’s sleep again I’m definitely going back to the farmhouse.
The next morning we drove back towards Mpika and headed on a little dirt road to a place called Mutinondo (http://www.mutinondozambia.com/main_frame.htm). It’s this little piece of heaven in the middle of nowhere. It’s a wilderness area that has all kinds of outdoor activities - you can hike to 3 or 4 natural waterfalls, there are hills (called inselbergs) with natural granite which provided a kind of sparkly distraction. But mostly there was lots of time to relax, read and sip wine from our balcony with an amazing view.
The only unfortunate part was the freezing cold temperatures at night. Okay, they probably aren’t that cold but compared to the bliss that we usually live in here in Zambia it was quite cold. We had to huddle around the fire at night and then quickly jump into bed around 8PM. Oh, and then there were the bats living in the roof. Not so pleasant when you have to crawl out of bed to use the outdoor toilet at night. But, hey, this is Africa.
It was an amazing weekend and hopefully you will enjoy the pictures! I keep trying to tell you all to get on over here for a visit. And I promise not to take you to a place with bats…that’s optional on the African tour.