A, roughly, 2-week trip to Zambia to meet my brother Geoff's new in-laws\family and explore some of Zambia with a 5 day layover in Dubai on the way.
Today was the 1st day of the trip to Dubai and Zambia, instead of flying solo on this 1, I am travelling with Geoff & Hazel. After an uneventful check-in (some bags were slightly over the weight limit, some slightly under) and flight thing’s started to get interesting when we landed in Dubai and discovered that Hazel requires a visa to enter Dubai, if she had applied before we left she would have been able to apply for a 1 month visa (which takes a few days to process) but applying when arriving in country you are only able to get a 4 day visa, which as we had 5 days planned meant a bit of a problem!!!
The flight, aboard a Boeing 777-300, took off at 1922 UK time and, 3592 miles (5781Km) later, landed in Dubai at 0227 UK time (0627 local) and I was very lucky with my seat as I had it next to a door so lots of leg room and had an empty seat beside me – so plenty space (though part way through the flight someone was moved beside me for a short while – she was not a happy passenger as was her 3rdmove and 1 move had been to allow a mother and 2 year old to relocate due to a faulty entertainment screen – why does a 2 year old need a working entertainment screen I was asked).
After reviewing our options, it was decided that Geoff & Hazel would remain at the airport for a further 24 hours and pass through security at 0930 the following day – this would mean that she would have until 0930 on Monday 7thin Dubai but would loose a day as there was no flight availability until Friday 11th(a couple of options we had considered where a] sending Hazel on to Zambia on the day we arrived in Dubai and she would have had to miss the Dubai part or b] all of us flying on to Zambia and doing Dubai on the way home instead) and I would leave them there and book into the hotel we had booked for the full 4 nights (there is a hotel at the airport that Geoff and Hazel got booked in to – so not stuck trying to get some sleep on a chair in arrivals).
So off I went through security to be left to my own devices for a day. With the 1st challenge being getting a taxi – while walking to where the signs said the taxi rank was, a guy asked if I was looking for a taxi as he was an “official airport taxi” driver and could take me where I wanted for around £50 (Geoff had advised it should only cost around £13 – but this could have changed) so figured it was legit and off we went. Turned out this wasn’t the case so ended up getting a proper taxi (are easily identifiable as such – this “official airport” taxi driver had an unmarked car) and only cost around £5!!!
Got to the hotel, checked in and advised that the other 2 would be arriving the next day due to a visa issue (this was not a problem – I paid for my room and the other 2 will pay on arrival tomorrow). Spent the rest of the morning in the room and the afternoon taking a walk around the area where the hotel is and down to Dubai Creek, which someone fell into while I was sitting on a park bench taking a wee break, didn’t realise she had fallen in – heard what sounded like a shriek but wasn’t sure as was reading and there a was a parked car blocking my view – heard someone shouting looked over and saw this guy running to the edge of the water (and straight in) closely followed by half a dozen other guys who helped pull the woman out. After my walk it was back to the hotel for a bit before heading out for dinner – ended up in KFC!!!
Today was the day when Geoff & Hazel would be joining me – I had planned to go down to the hotel lobby around 0930 to be there for when they arrived. I left about 0920 to go and buy drinks for the day – walked out the elevator as Geoff & hazel walked in!!!!:-) They advised the enforced airport stay was fine – hotel was really good and they had an enjoyable time wandering around the airport.
After they had registered and got there room we had a chat about the plan for the day – I thought we were doing the hero boat trip (think walking\Segway tour but with small motor boats at sea and you’ll be on the right track!), this had been planned for 0830 this morning but the plan had been rearrange for the 1030 excursion which changed again to the next day at 0830. The afternoon\evening was taken up with camel riding (45 minutes) followed by a cultural evening in the desert afterwards (meal and entertainment).
As we had the morning free, and a few hours to kill, we decided to hop on a City Sightseeing bus tour (of which there are several different routes – the 1 we took was the red route which is the longest at about 2hours 20 minutes). The 1stchallenge was getting to the right stop – initially we thought that the buses ran in both direction so there we were standing on the wrong side of the road as a bus went past, it was at this point Geoff looked at the map and twigged that the buses only go 1 way!!!! So we wandered to the correct side of the road and waited for the next 1 (they run roughly every 20 minutes). The red route takes in various parts of the city including several malls and downtown with a recorded guide to tell you about the areas that the bus passes through and a little about the history of Dubai (apparently the oil reserves that provide Dubai with some of its revenue will run out in 2040 – so the ruling family started to diverse into various other field such as tourism, including retail tourism).
The camel ride\cultural evening started at 1430 when we were collected from out hotel by 4×4 by Abid (who was are assigned driver for the full trip), another family (of 3 – mum, dad & daughter from Australia – dad originally from Germany) were collected from another hotel – then off to the desert to try and do a reasonable impersonation of Lawrence of Arabia!!!
The site for this activity is about 60Km (37miles) outside Dubai on land owned by the current sheikh and is used for various activity’s (camel riding, vintage land rover safari’s, hawk flying demonstration’s & cultural evenings the main events). After arriving at the start we were provided with a small gift bag, water bottle (that we could fill with water for the ride) and kitted out with a shemagh\keffiyeh (traditional head scarf) to wear on the ride. There were several party’s on site and each group was kept together as they had arrived – our party of 7 was assigned 4 camels (Geoff & Hazel on 1, the mother & daughter on a 2nd, the father and I assigned are own – as a photographer they put me on the front camel, with my backpack hooked onto the saddle – which meant I could access my kit (which caused the camel driver a problem twice!!!), Geoff & Hazel behind me, the mother & daughter behind them and the father on the rear camel. On 2 occasions I had something fall out of my pack – the 1st time was a lens cap and the 2nd my sunglasses, on both occasion’s I managed to get the camel drivers‘ attention and he handed the dropped item back up to me – this caused much amusement with the rest of the party!!!! On the ride we saw a small group of Gazelle & I spent quite a bit of the ride leaning off 1 side of the camel or the other and twisting round to take photograph’s of the rest of the party (I think Hazel may have been a bit worried I would lean too far and the camel driver would have to pick me up and put me back on the camel!!!!). on a few occasions the camel driver borrowed my camera to take photographs of our group (there were also a few official photographers around taking photos of the groups – at 1 point I photographed 1 of them as he was photographing us, which caused much amusement all round!!!).
After the camel ride there was drinks provided (an apple & date drink that was very tasty and refreshing) followed by a falconry demonstration (while people were enjoying drinks we had the opportunity to hold 1 of the falcon’s, of which there were 2 – named Muffin & Apache).
Once the falconry demonstration was over it was back into the 4×4 for a short drive to the final part of the day – dinner and cultural show (which involved audience participation – more on that later), this involved more than 1 group but the company has several similar sites in the area so there are never more than 30 at the meal\entertainment.
The meal consisted of a soup starter, a salad\snack bite type starter and a main course of lamb, chicken & camel (yes – you read that right camel, but we were assured it was not any of the 1’s that we had been riding!!). There were 2 chicken dishes – 1 was chicken with flour mixed in to a kind of paste (which is traditionally served at weddings), 2 different types of rice (lamb & vegetable) followed by fruit for dessert.
Before the fruit was served we had the entertainment – started off with a dance by 2 men armed with rifles (not real we were assured as hunting is banned and so is the possession of rifles) and finished off with traditional instrument playing and singing. It was the traditional instrument playing and singing that involved audience participation – there was a traditional drum that the company had provided enough for 1 each of all those at the meal to have a shot at so those that wished formed a circle, attempted to play the instrument and danced around the group leading the entertainment.
After all this it was back into the 4×4 and the return journey to our hotel (with a quick stop to re-inflate the tyres (normal tyre pressure is 36-37Psi for sand\desert driving this has to be reduced to 15 to avoid bogging down). On arrival back at the hotel, at approximately 2130, it was up to the room to clean the cameras (sand & camera equipment is never a good mix!!), download the photos, type this and get ready for tomorrow (an early[ish], 0715) as we have to be at the dock for 0830 for the boat trip (here’s hoping we don’t drown!!!).
As mentioned today was an early-ish start, unfortunately although we left in enough time (reckoned it was 20 minutes from our hotel the dock) we ended up being about 10\15 minutes late as the taxi driver had no clue where he was going – so was very much a case of the blind leading the blind!!!!! fortunately the company was understanding (our guide, who met us at the car park where we were dropped off, says it happens to her all the time!!!!!) and we were the only 3 going out at that time.
After a safety briefing (and admiring comments from the shore support of my backpack – we were offered dry bags for any kit we were taking with me, my backpack is a drybag which was handy) and being supplied and fitted with a life jacket (we were advised to wear clothes we didn’t mind getting wet and bring a towel) it was down to our boats for the trip (with shoes left on the dock), Geoff & Hazel in 1 and me in another. We were advised that normally the bay is smooth, with little in the way of waves, but not today – we had waves (though only small) which made things more exciting (or terrifying if you were Hazel!!). Our trip took us down the coast to the Burj Al Arab Hotel (where we had out 1st of 3 stops where our guide explained about the history of the hotel and the prices’ – let’s just say unless I win really big on the lottery I’ll never be able to afford a room!!!), the 2nd was off an island owned by the sheik (and where his 1st wife lives – no one knows for sure how many wives he has!) and the 3rd being off Palm island opposite the Atlantis hotel.
Overall an exciting trip – especially when the throttle was opened wide and we could race across (and, at times, fly over) the waves (in Geoff’s case he also took time to do fast circles, not sure if this was purely to terrify Hazel or not – but I think she both enjoyed and was terrified by the trip in equal measure:-)) – at 1 point my engine cut out and I thought I’d broken down!!!! (turns out the force of hitting a wave had caused my safety cut out to activate (is a small button that is held out by a clip on the life jacket) and I hadn’t noticed it had fallen out (someone felt a little daft when the guide came back to check on me!!!).
Rest of the day was spent on further bus tours, a wander round the Dubai mall, taking photos of the Burj Kalifi (which is next door to the mall), a look round the Dubai museum and a wander through the old souk (market) next to the museum. Finished off the day as we started – on the water, though this time at a slightly more sedate pace and on smoother water, as we took a short cruise up Dubai Creek followed by dinner at a restaurant (though not the 1 Geoff had found as none of us were that taken with the menu so went to a place nearby).
Today we were back on the water, we purchased a 3-day City Sightseeing bus pass which also gave us optional extra’s (in the case of the 3 day pass a dhow cruise on Dubai creek, free access to the Dubai museum & access to the aquarium at Dubai mall to name but a few of the additional extra’s we can get with this), so decided to use these.
1st challenge was finding the right boat trip – there is also a 7-day pass which gives you a boat trip on the canal which is the 1 we thought was the 1 included with our tickets so we ended up at the wrong place. After waiting 20 minutes, and chatting to the bus company rep, we boarded the next bus to take us to the correct place. The cruise was on 1 of the dinner cruise dhows that travels up and down the creek in the evenings, no food for us though – only the cruise, which lasted an hour and took us slightly further down the creek than our small boat trip the previous day.
After this was off to the Burj Khalifi for lunch and a trip up the tower (Geoff had found an offer on the Burj Khalifi’s website for a combined lunch\viewing option – which looked like a good deal, so was booked for 1400). Arrived just in time (had about 5-minutes to spare) and, once we got our tickets were whisked past the queue to be taken for lunch (once past the queue that was going up to the viewing areas we had a little wait for a waiter to appear to take us up to the lunch venue). Lunch was an outside area of the Burj Khalifi called Rooftop The Burj Club – by far the nicest meal we have had so far (3 courses with water included and drinks extra – Geoff and I had an drink). After lunch was back down to join the main queue to take the elevator up to the 125th floor of the tower, which took just under a minute and the ride up had projections of other famous landmark’s (the Eiffel Tower & the empire state building to name 2 to show when we reached the height of these). Views from the top were spectacular, if a little hazy, and the viewing areas were mainly indoors with 1 small outside viewing platform – was extremely busy!!
The plan after the Burj Khalifi was to make a visit to the aquarium followed by a night bus ride – but the trip up took longer than planned so instead we had an ice cream before making our way to the bus tour hub outside the Dubai Mall. The night bus tour took around 2 hours and took in all the major sites around Dubai, we had planned to take another night us that would have dropped us off near the hotel – but we were all tired and, as we have an early start tomorrow (we are being collected at 0500) for our balloon ride!!), just wanted to get back to the hotel so jumped in a taxi instead.
Today was a ridiculously early start as we were being picked up at 0500 to go for a hot air balloon ride, with breakfast and a desert wildlife safari to follow. The afternoon plan was to go up the Dubai Frame, ride the metro to the end of the line and Hazel wanted to have a look around the gold souk.
As I had previously been up in a hot air balloon I was curious to see how it compared to the previous 1 – 1st thing that was obvious when we arrived was that there was a lot less balloon’s going up (only 2 instead of the large numbers that were in the air when I was in Cappadocia, Turkey) the other main difference was that we were provided with a belt that allowed us to be clipped on to the basket (for landing). Our captain for the ride was originally from Holland and the ride itself was not the most interesting – view was predominantly flat desert, with the occasional green spot were farming was being carried out (on a small scale) & a scattering of houses supplied by the government to the Bedouin when the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, DDCR for short, was created) the highlight of the ride was the falconry display carried out from the balloon with a Peregrine Falcon, who had been brought along by his handler for the trip (is part of the balloon experience). As mentioned above we had been supplied with belts, why these were necessary became apparent on landing – as the area is flat the balloon keeps going even when the basket has touched down, subsequently the basket is pulled on to its side and dragged for a short distance this way, so we all ended up looking at the sky on touchdown (certainly added a little excitement at the end!).
After the balloon ride it was off to breakfast, this was held in the same area, but not the same camp (was larger than the 1 we had visited during the camel safari), as the camel safari we had done previously (same company does both trips) – good variety of food & drink so we all had enough to eat before the next stage of our days adventures.
Once breakfast was over with we left in a vintage Land Rover for our safari (with a quick stop to pick up a shemagh for all those on the safari – us 3 plus 2 and the driver, who is from Germany). After being fitted with our shemagh it was into the DDCR for our safari, while billed as a wildlife safari most of the wildlife we saw was congregated around a feeding station by a road leading to a hotel (though I did spot a small of herd of desert ibex at 1 point when we stopped and the guide was telling us about a plant that can be used to provide water (when crushed provides a small amount) – as he was explaining this I was taking photos and he was wondering what I was photographing (considering I had my 600mm lens out it certainly couldn’t have been a landscape shot!!!!).
After all this we were driven back to our hotel to look at the options for the Dubai Frame (we booked online our slot), investigated how to get there by metro, bought a day pass and jumped on the metro to get there (after collecting Hazel from the hotel (Geoff & I investigated the Metro while Hazel stayed behind). The trip up the Frame was good, but was a little disappointed in the start where you go through a small area giving you details of Duabi (felt it could have gone in to more detail in this area) – this was more than made up for with the views from the top of the Frame (looking 1 way shows old Dubai the other new Dubai). After descending there was an audio-visual display showing the vision for the future of Dubai (flying cars and all!!).
We then headed back to the metro to take a trip to the end and back but cut this short as was not as interesting as we thought it would be. After a quick change of metro lines we had a wander through the gold souk (being constantly approached by men wanting to sell everything from handbags to perfume).
The day was finished off with a meal at a creek side restaurant, that served portions even I couldn’t finish (when I mentioned the portion was big enough for 2 the waiter advised the portion for 2 was even bigger!!!).
Nothing of interest happened Tuesday or Wednesday – Tuesday we flew to Zambia (with no drama’s!), where we were picked up by Hazel’s brother Derrick (the road to his house is an experience in itself – is off the main road and is down a dirt track, as was raining when landed and had been for most of the day the track was severally waterlogged in places, fortunately Derrick has a 4×4 so we were fine) and Wednesday was spent relaxing at Derrick’s house – catching up on photo editing and getting a laundry done (unfortunately had not fully dried by the evening and as we were driving to Livingstone to view Victoria Falls in the morning so brought in what we needed for the 4 day trip and hoped it fully dried overnight).
Today we had an early start (up at 0600 for a 0640 departure – ended up leaving at 0700ish) as Derrick had to drop the kids at school and then take us all in to meet up with our driver for the trip to Livingstone, Julian (who runs errands for 1 of Derrick’s company’s). So had breakfast in a café in Lusaka before meeting up with Derrick and Julian at a tyre garage round the corner from the café (Derrick had picked up something driving in to Lusaka this morning so the plan had been to change to the spare and get the faulty tyre replaced once back (as was still useable) – it was discovered that the tool for removing the spare from under the 4×4 was missing so ended up needing a new tyre!!
Once all that was done was in to the car for a quick stop at the supermarket and filling station and then on to the open road to Livingstone (around a 4-5-hour drive). 1 stop later we arrived at our hotel for the next 4 night’s, checked in, booked 2 activities for the coming days (an evening dinner cruise for tomorrow, though apparently isn’t much of a dinner!!!) and a full day (leaving at 0715 from the hotel lobby) for a guided safari around a nature reserve in Botswana on Saturday, we had also planned to book a 3-hour trip into Zimbabwe – but is cheaper to go ourselves as is 5 minutes from the hotel to the border (Julian, unfortunately, does not have his passport so is unable to drive is all the way into Zimbabwe – but is going to drive us the border gate, we will do what we want and walk back).
After all this Geoff, Hazel & I decided to take a drive down to see if we could get to the falls. As Julian had been driving all day Geoff took the opportunity to try driving in Zambia and got the car keys from Julian and we all piled in to see what we could see. Unfortunately access to the falls had closed at 1800, we had just missed getting in – so decided to come back in the morning as part of our self-guided trip (we will be right next to the entrance when we are at the border – so makes more sense to do it this way).
Dinner was at the hotel – very nice and very cheap (just under £40 for 3 mains and 6 drinks!!!). Hotel also has a pool – am still trying to decide whether I want to swim or not (pool is very small!).
This morning we crossed the border into Zimbabwe, to view Victoria Falls from this side. As mentioned previously Julian did not have his passport so was unable to join us – but he was able to drive us up to the Zimbabwean border post from where we had our passport’s stamped and then walked up to the entrance to the falls (there is a charge to enter – Hazel had left her wallet in the car, fortunately Geoff had his credit card so he was able to pay to get in). Due to late rains the falls are not running at their full power but was still impressive with a reasonable amount of water going over (enough for spray to come back over and give tourists a light shower!!!), while we were walking around Geoff commented on who cool is t-shirt was and hadn’t realised he had brought 1 like that – when looked close realised it was 1 of mine that he must have picked up by accident after our laundry was done!!! After seeing the falls, as we walked back to the entrance, we came across a troop of baboons sitting across the path, with the alpha male sitting on a bench – this 1 faked an attack in our direction as I was taking his photo and, I think, he saw his reflection didn’t recognize it as such and thus considered himself a threat and reacted accordingly!!!!!
After the falls we had a quick look around a market and bought a souvenir. We then walked back in to Zambia and phoned Julian to come and collect us (though both Hazel and my local Sims had run out of credit so Hazel had to phone using her UK number!!!). Instead of staying where we were at the border post we decided to walk up the road a little way to wait for Julian (more baboons, including baby’s where climbing on trucks waiting to cross the border – so provided additional photo opportunities.
After being collected by Julian was back to the hotel and finalize a plan for the afternoon (originally had been to see the falls form the Zambia side – but time was not on our side as we had taken longer in Zimbabwe and we had the boat cruise in the evening, being picked up at 1600). So the new plan was a drive around Livingstone with a visit to a museum then back to the hotel to relax until the pick-up for the cruise (both Geoff & I ended up going for a swim – was a welcome respite from the heat).
The cruise left the dock at 1430 and lasted until 1830 (though came back in a few minutes late). Was not busy – on the bus that picked us up there was 1 couple and on the boat there was only 2 other couples (so a total of 10). On the cruise we had lighting and saw hippo’s, crocodile’s and several different types of birds. Dinner was provided – sausage, chicken & salad (we had been given the impression was more like a light snack than a proper meal, so had planned to get dinner when back at the hotel – as it happened, we did not need to, as the provided food was enough).
Once back the hotel it was off to our respective rooms to relax (and in my case type up the diary and edit my photos from the day).
Today was an early start, we were collected at 0715 for a safari in Chobe National Park, Botswana. After an hour drive we arrived at the border post and our driver took our passports in to the border post to get us stamped out of Zambia, he then took us down to the riverside to be collected by speedboat for the crossing to Botswana – currently there is no bridge (is currently under construction) so lorry drivers can have a long wait for a ferry as the 2 that currently ply the crossing can take only 2 (or 1 depending if the lorry is hauling 2 trailers). We had just left shore when the boat returned to shore to collect an additional passenger (a UK based Norwegian who would be our companion for the day).
After passing through immigration and walking through a puddle of disinfectant (all vehicles also had to drive through a trough of the same we were driven to the hotel base of the safari company our driver shows us where to wait and then disappeared, reappearing a short while later in a boat, when we booked the trip we all thought it was a purely land based safari – but no the Morning was a boat safari on the Chobe river with a land based safari in the afternoon (with an hour lunch in between).
For the boat part of the safari there was a total of 10 of us – our group, the Norwegian, a retired American couple (& Trump supporters!!!!) & a family of 4 from Australia (although the parents are originally from South Africa, the mum, & Zimbabwe). After a short intro & safety briefing (mainly if the boat is moving stay seated – which I generally ignored and the guide was happy for me to do so after I advised her I was willing to risk falling in the Chobe river after the American woman asked the guide to confirm that we should be sitting when the boat was moving the 1st time I stood when the boat was moving (water was dead calm so figured risk of falling in was minimal and meant I could get more photos – having a big professional camera certainly has its advantages!!!!).
The 1st thing that needed done before the safari started was to get the entry permit as the river is part of the Chobe national park, so all those entering need to provided their nationality before entry is permitted (while we were waiting for our guide to get the permit another tourist boat appeared – this 1 was a dedicated photography boat, 5/6 seats fixed down the middle of the boat each was fully rotatable and had a mount for fitting a camera to (think I was on the wrong boat!!!). Once the permit was obtained was out to view wildlife – some of the wildlife we saw were elephants, hippos, water buffalo, crocodiles & a wide variety of birds. After 2 hours on the water was back to the hotel for a buffet lunch.
After lunch we met up with our new guide and were sorted out into out groups for the land safari (the American couple ended up in a different safari truck) then off to Chobe National Park (once again we had to get a permit before entering the park – once obtained a quick chat from our guide, watch out for branches as the truck is fully open, if you see an animal shout out & elephants can get very close to & will circle the truck – so no need to worry).
Then we were off to see what wildlife we could see – our 1st being an elephant, spotted by me, and which ended up giving Hazel a fright (she even let out a small scream😀) when the elephant mock charged the truck – it ended up so close I could have touched it!!!! For the next 3-hours we drove around the park looking for wildlife, apart from elephant we spotted hippo, gazelle, impala, various varieties of birds & warthog – but no more close calls as we had with our 1st elephant!!! The only negative aspect of this was that it felt a little rushed – at times the driver barely stopped long enough to allow photographs to be taken and didn’t stop at all at other times – so a little frustrating, but still managed to get plenty of good photos.
Once the safari was done we were driven back the border, passed through immigration and crossed back over the Zambezi to be collected by the same driver as the in the morning and, after passing through immigration, back to the hotel – arriving back at roughly 1800.
Today we drove back to Lusaka from Livingstone, with a trip to view Victoria Falls from the Zambian side 1st, Geoff drove us down so that Julian didn’t need to do all the driving. The 1stplace we went on our walk was The Boiling Point, a walk down to the Zambezi river that is very steep and takes 15-minutes to walk down to and 25-minutes to climb back up (which was quite a challenge due to the steepness) once back on the main path we viewed the falls (and got slightly wet from spray!!).
After returning to the hotel we collected our bags from our room’s and checked out. With Geoff once again behind the wheel we headed back to Lusaka, which ended up taking 9-hours (as we had a breakdown around halfway through when we ran out of fuel – even though it appeared we still had enough for a few more miles, once we had refilled with some diesel we then had to deal with an air lock caused by the initial problem and the battery running flat when we were attempting to start the car). After the breakdown Julian took the wheel to get us the rest of the way back to Lusaka (with Geoff taking over once again so that Julian did not have to drive to Derricks and then have to get home from there – so Geoff got to experience night driving in Africa!!!!).
Today we drove to Luanshya, in the Copperbelt region, to visit Hazel’s parent’s and other relatives that live in the area. Is a shorter drive – taking around 4-hours instead of the 5-6 normal drive time to Livingstone.
The day started in the same way as when we left for Livingstone, with the only change being that Geoff drove behind Derrick to the shopping mall near Derrick’s office from where we met Julian again (and Julian then drove up to Luanshya). This was an uneventful trip with the only exception’s being pulled over at 2 different Police check points at Julian having to pay a bribe (as he had no hard copy, had a copy on his phone and he should have had 24-48 hours to produce his license at a police station, the 2ndtime the story changed from having no license to having no reflective strips on the front of the vehicle).
On arrival at Luanshya we 1ststopped at Hazel’s parents, where we were warmly welcomed. After a drink and a chat we left to visit where we would be spending the night (Julian is staying with Hazel’s parents, Geoff & Hazel are staying with Allan, 1 of Hazel’s brother’s and I am staying with Steven, who was at the wedding – as none of these homes have space for all 4 of us to stay in the same place).
From Monday 14th until our departure on Saturday 19th we spent visiting, and being visited, by family, friends & neighbours in Luanshya & Lusaka. 1 tradition in Zambia is to give a chicken to newlyweds – by the end of our time Geoff and Hazel had been gifted 3 chickens & a box of (roughly) 6 chick’s – not sure what happened to any of them!!
On Tuesday 15th we visited family in a nearby township, as we drove we passed several mine heads and I was keen to get a photo of at least 1, but was not sure if this would be a good idea or not (as photographing buildings can be tricky due to the fact that most African country’s have a blanket ban on photographing anything related to Government and I wasn’t sure if these fell into that category or not) – after checking with our host (a retired mine captain) on the way back he came with us and we got to visit 1 of them, shaft 28 which is currently non-working (has been flooded to preserve the mine shaft’s), is 31000 feet deep and still has a reserve of 31million tons of copper that can still be mined (1st job would be to drain the water which would cost around $1 million!!!!!) – the plan is to 1st completely remove all copper from other mines in the area before eventually returning to this shaft to remove the final reserves.
After spending a couple of days in Luanshya we drove back to Lusaka (with no dramas with the police that we had had on the way up) to visit more relatives, explore more of Lusaka and (on the final day) to do some shopping before catching our flight home.
On Saturday 19th, after spending the day visiting relatives and shopping we arrived at the airport at around 1830\1900 for our flight back to the UK (which took off around 2100). Both the flight to Dubai and the connecting flight from Dubai to Edinburgh went smoothly and we arrived safely back in the UK at 1300 on Sunday 20th(we had a 2-hour layover in Dubai between flights).