Visit to Victoria Falls National Park

Scenic flight over Victoria Falls National Park

The final stages of the bike tour through Malawi and Zambia were challenging yet fulfilling. Following intense days filled with impressive landscapes and friendly encounters, well-deserved rest days were spent in Livingstone by the Zambezi River, before continuing on to Botswana and eventually Cape Town.

Stage 45: Lilongwe to Chipata, 154 km, 928 hm

In Lilongwe, I mounted the new tire that Margot's mother had brought. It performed great! We had crosswinds and tailwinds, so a new, narrower tire made a big difference. I'm glad because the next two days will be tough, each over 170 km with over 1000 meters of elevation gain.

We cross the border from Malawi to Zambia, everything goes smoothly and without any problems. The formalities are handled in a brand-new building, and there is virtually no delay.

Stage 46: Chipata to Petauke, 176 km, 1205 hm

The first day in Zambia. Today, we faced a lot of crosswinds and headwinds, and it was very hilly. The elevation gain mainly came from constant ups and downs.

There are many local cyclists again, carrying improbable loads of wood, coal, or other items. Everyone greets us very kindly.

Stage 47:  Petauke to Luangwa Bridge, 172 km, 1642 hm

Today starts quite cool, perfect cycling weather. I aim to cover quite a few kilometers as it can get very hot in the afternoon. Unfortunately, a fellow cyclist had an accident; she was promptly attended to and taken to the clinic but had to abandon the tour.

The campsite is beautifully situated by the Luangwa River, but it's barely possible to anchor the tents as the ground is extremely hard and rocky. Great, especially without an air mattress :-)

Stage 48: Luangwa Bridge to Mukonga Primary School, 124 km, 1900 hm

I slept little due to the heat, but today's tour is very pleasant. Zambia appears to be less populated; there aren't many children calling out "how are you" to us, which is actually quite refreshing.

Even at the camping site near the primary school, there are fewer children around, meaning we're not stared at from all sides... very pleasant!

Stage 49: Mukonga to Lusaka, 131 km, 1082 hm

The last cycling day before a rest day... always an uplifting feeling. The first 80 km still pass through rural areas, with charcoal being sold everywhere along the roadside. Then my wind jacket gets tangled in the cassette (I hadn't secured it properly).

Luckily, I noticed it right away, but the jacket is ruined! The last 50 km pass through the suburbs of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. There are many stone factories, gravel, stones, Ytong... everything becomes much more "western," a drastic difference from the rural area before.

Rest day in Lusaka

We're camping at a very nice spot on the outskirts of Lusaka. There are zebras, baboons, and giraffes on the premises, so one shouldn't leave anything outside the tent, especially not food.

We spend the day as usual, eating, washing, fixing bicycles, and shopping. A rest day really flies by!

Stage 50: Lusaka to Mooring Campsite, 169 km, 906 hm

Stevie repaired my air mattress yesterday, and it holds up better now, although not 100%. However, I've also gotten used to my thin sleeping pad. After over 100 km, I'm so tired that I can almost always fall asleep.

Today's route was somewhat boring, with two minor hills, fortunately, not many "how are you" greetings, and a gas station with ice, a delicacy in these countries. Additionally, we can celebrate two birthdays again, which is always accompanied by cake after dinner.

Stage 51: Mooring Campsite to Ruze Chalet, 155 km, 807 hm

Today I set off feeling a bit uninspired, but often I only get into the rhythm after 20-30 km. In the afternoon, we stumble upon a wonderfully charming café with sweets, which boosts my spirits.

Zambia is currently experiencing the worst drought in over 100 years. The maize crops are completely dried out, and even trees are suffering from the water shortage. We had a lot of rain in Malawi, but since crossing the border, there hasn't been a drop.

The Ruze Chalet has seen better days; the term "chalet" is quite amusing in this context.

Stage 52: Ruze Chalet to Livingstone, 151 km, 684 hm

Once again, it's the last cycling day before a rest day! I'm highly motivated and riding with Arnie; without the favorable wind conditions, I couldn't keep up with him. We're actually making very good progress. I had thought that the truck traffic would decrease over Easter, but unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

The enormous vehicles almost sweep us from the road onto the bumpy shoulders, which is very unpleasant, but we've learned that we have to "give way." The campsite in Livingstone is right by the Zambezi River. In the evening, we gather to bid farewell to a few fellow cyclists and welcome new ones.

Rest days in Livingstone

We have three days off! A blessing for our muscles and our backsides! I visit the Victoria Falls National Park; the waterfalls are breathtakingly beautiful, even though the drought has reduced the water levels.

I naturally want to see the falls in Zimbabwe as well, so I cycle towards Victoria Falls. The border crossing proves to be very pleasant, and the bridge between the two countries is used by the very adventurous as a bungee jumping platform (111 m)... definitely not for me!

The next day, we have a bicycle handover ceremony: Tour d'Afrique sponsors one bicycle per cyclist every year. The bikes are donated to various schools and made available to students who have a very long journey to school.

At the ceremony, both students who have benefited from previous bikes and principals and teachers participate. The whole event is accompanied by a band and a dance group performing Zambian music. It's truly beautiful to see the positive impact bicycles can have.

Tomorrow, we continue on to Botswana. We still have one month until Cape Town!

More impressions