A destination carefully chosen
People ask us why we chose to go to Zambia. It isn't a frequent destination for American tourists. When we visited Africa in 1996, we took the train from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, to Livingstone, Zambia, for the day. In those days, it was quite a contrast between prosperous Zimbabwe and poor Zambia. (Now, we understand that it's quite the opposite.) We were intrigued and we were looking for a new safari destination that wasn't overrun by tourists. Zambia fit the bill.
Three characteristics set Zambian safaris apart from other safari locations: travel in open Land Rovers, night game drives and spot-lighting, and walking safaris. All three appealed to us, but especially the walking safaris.
So, when it came time for celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary, we decided on a safari to Zambia. I read the few guidebooks that are available. After reading Bradt's "Zambia," we decided to contact the author, Chris McIntire, who runs a tour company in the U.K., for help in designing our trip. We couldn't have been more pleased; this was the best vacation we've ever taken. Zambia is like two parallel universes existing together but almost never intersecting. There's skeletal infrastructure, with modern airports, an electricity grid, and services in the cities, in stark contrast to the subsistence living of most of the people in the villages. We had an opportunity to visit two villages and spend the night in one. When the sun goes down, it is very dark! Hence, people tend to rise and retire with the sun, because there are no lights, radio, or television. We saw the medical clinic; talked with a traditional healer who uses a combination of Christianity and herbal medicine; and visited the school. Zambia places high value in education, but can't afford to pay enough teachers to meet the needs. In the two villages we visited, safari camps paid the salaries of half the teachers. All the children are taught in English after Grade 1. [Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version of dancers at Kawaza Village.]