Jun 16 2013

Livin’ it up in Livingstone

After our very expensive border crossing – and feeling skint after parting with US$200 for the experience – we decided it was time to be budget conscious for a little while.  Also, we were meeting an online friend in Livingstone, so we decided to find camping in Livingstone itself, rather in one of the numerous places along the Zambezi.

Livingstone is a quaint town.  It existed more as a regional hub, before enticing the tourists from Zimbabwe during Zimbabwe’s political troubles.  As such, it is an interesting mix of services for the residents and tourist offerings.  There is a modern shopping area at Maosi-au-Tong square  – complete with Shoprite, banks, a bookstore and pharmacy and tarred parking – while over the road is a gravel parking area with stores with rough concrete facades metal gates over the doors and chipped paint.  Up the main road, outside one of the banks, there is a small tent offering free eye tests.  The queue is growing.  Further up the main road – a tarred double lane in each direction road – is a large African craft market.  As you move away from the main street, the houses vary from plastered, painted brick buildings, and rough unfinished buildings.  The tar roads also dwindle into gravel.  All in all, a town with many different facets.

After getting our bearings, we set off to withdraw money.  Who would have thought it would be quite so difficult, especially with international banks like Barclays, Standard Chartered and Stanbic all present.  Eventually, Finance Bank was the winner.  After a relaxing cup of coffee in celebration of this achievement, we went in search of Jollyboys Campsite.

The campsite is similar to a backpackers – with all the kitchen and social facilities – but mainly provides inexpensive camping.  In the bar area there was a TV – I was quite interested to catch up on the news in the world, but found it all very depressing.  The new bulletin was squawking about child soldiers in Mali; Mandela’s failing health in a day by day account; an Austrian company who may be benefitting from Johannesburg’s toll roads; strikes in Greece in protest to the public broadcaster being closed down and strikes in France almost shutting down the rail network.   Enough thanks – I really prefer not hearing all the negative news coverage, and would rather continue to enjoy our thoroughly positive travelling experiences.

Jollyboys has a lovely green lawn for ground tents, but vehicles with rooftop tents are less fortunate, parking on the edge of the carpark.  This proved to be very noisy during the night, with other vehicles coming and going.  It was a very weary African GirlChild who climbed down the ladder next morning.

But, we were off to visit Victoria Falls.  It seems strange, but we really had to decide whether to go, since Viking Explorer has seen it once before, and African GirlChild twice.  Common sense prevailed – if nothing else – and off we went.

We were not disappointed – it was quite stunning, and so very different from the last time we visited in December 2010.  For one thing, there was actually water!  Last time, we walked from the eastern cataract across the rocks in the riverbed for a few hundred meters to where the river was flowing very gently over the cliffs.  This time, we could but look from the banks – the water far too high and swift flowing for any ideas of walking across.

We ventured around for a front view of the falls.  Instead of bare cliff face in front of us, the water was tumbling down, and mist rising from the river below.

The further we ventured, the more soaked we got, until it looked like we had walked through a heavy shower – which we had.  It was an incredible view – and such a sharp contrast to our previous visit.

On returning to the campsite, we discovered our little camping spot had been surrounded by an overland truck setting up for the night!  Our 40 newest and closest friends would be living on top of us.  No offense – but really not our cup of tea.  Jollyboys kindly moved our booking up to Jollyboys Backpackers for a hopefully quieter evening. Again, it isn’t really designed for vehicles with rooftop tents, so we decided to pitch our ground tent in the hopes of a better night’s sleep.  This Jollyboys was really geared to backpackers: lots of activities on offer, with pick up and drop off included.  I just wasn’t brave enough to try bungee jumping or bridge swing!  A helicopter over the falls would have been magic!

That evening, though, we spent with Linda.  I had met Linda online through the South African 4×4 forum, and she had been very helpful in answering my many questions about Zambia.  We had been in contact via email, and so it was great fun to actually meet in person.  Off we went to a charming little Italian run pizzeria, complete with wood-burning oven.  Linda has been an overland truck driver in Africa for the last 10 years, driving the route between Nairobi (Kenya) and Cape Town (South Africa).  Now, she is based in Livingstone.  She shared some hilarious stories from the road – as one can only have.  We laughed and giggled, and the staff kindly kept us fed and watered.  It was a most enjoyable evening, and hopefully we’ll meet up again one day.

So, onwards and eastwards – time to head towards Lake Kariba.


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  1. Margaret

    It is indeed a small world —– How is Linda? Would you believe Mike & I met up with her and her team at a camp site near Windhoek a couple of years ago. They were having a few days R&R before picking up a new group of travellers. She is indeed a lovely person and so friendly.

    You seem to have enjoyed the trip through Botswana and Namibia and if you return there I’m sure we could add to your places to stay and see.

    Keep well, Margaret & Mike

    1. African GirlChild

      Yes – such a small world indeed! We had such a great evening with Linda.

      We are just loving southern Africa – and will definitely pick your brains for more places in Namibia and Botswana! There is just so much to see, and we have to keep moving onwards …

      African GirlChild

    2. Linda

      Hi Margaret and Mike,

      Hahaha, I am very well thanks. Hope to see you again one day.



  2. Vic

    Had a good chuckle about the free eye tests, with a growing queue. Should they have gone to Specsavers??? Hahaha…
    Glad you’re having such a great time.

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