Mukuni Curio Market

This is the perfect place to get all the little gifts for people back home. It’s like a smaller version of Sunday Market in Lusaka. A lot of the work is the same, but I enjoy taking my time and going through looking for unique items specific to the artist. The people are very friendly, a little pushy, but just trying to make a living. It’s okay to bargain with them as the first price they give you will almost always be high. Don’t feel pressured to buy anything, just politely say you’re not interested in it and move on if someone is being pushy. All in all, there are some beautiful artworks here, it’s a cute, colorful, little market. You can’t miss it if you’re walking along the main road.

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** I regret to inform you that the featured image is not mine. I am using a photo from google images, If it is your image please tell me and I will credit you, or remove it if you wish

Mukuni Big 5 Safaris

They have a variety of activities like watching cheetah’s run, and cheetah interactions, lion interactions, and elephant rides. They’ll pick you up from your lodge/hotel as the place is pretty out of the way. My first trip to Livingstone I did a cheetah interaction and my second trip I did an elephant ride. I’m a little conflicted, and want to research the place more. I’ve heard rumors that they don’t treat the animals very well. What I heard was just rumors, but I know there are a number of places like this across Africa that do animal interactions where they sedate the animals so that they will let tourists pet them. I didn’t know about this when I went the first time and did the cheetah interaction. It makes me feel a little uncomfortable inside. Like I said I’m not accusing this place of that, I don’t know enough about this specific organization. I just know that it is happening in other places like this one. I’d say if you’d like to go here, just do some of your own research, and make your own conclusions.

http://www.mukunibig5.com

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is the number one must see if you come to Zambia. It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Entering the park on the Zambian side is about 7 kwacha for locals and about $10-20 for foreigners. There are curio shops, and little cafés right inside the entrance. As you’re walking through the park there are three trails… well four really. One goes up by the river before the falls, depending on the time of year is how far this trail goes. The main trail goes right in front of the falls, during high season you get SOAKED. Do not bring phones or electronics on this path, my friend lost his new iphone this way. They also sell rain coats and other bags to wear to stay dry but I think its such an amazing experience to just get soaked by the falls and to feel the mist hitting you. But I realize that experience is not for everyone. This path also leads to a bridge right in front of the falls, walk slowly as it is slippery when wet. It leads to an island/mountain/hill where you can get views of the Zimbabwe side of the falls, and the walkways on the Zimbabwe side. The second trail is more of a hike. It goes straight down into the first gorge to what is called the boiling point. From the bottom you can see where all the water from the falls comes together to push through a small opening. Seeing the strength of the water is truly incredible. Hiking this trail takes about 40 minutes each way. Bring water, and take breaks if needed. The third trail goes along the back of the gorge for more of a distance view of the falls. You also get a nice view of the bridge here, the one the first trail goes over, as well as the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Beware, we got to the end of the trail and there were men reaching through the fence trying to sell us bracelets, and to get us to come on a tour, it was a little creepy, so we just walked away. Another warning, on the boiling pot trail, and the last trail I discussed there are a lot of monkeys (baboons? Some sort of primate). They are known for steaking things from tourists, they’re definitely not afraid of people. DO NOT bring shop rite bags on the trail! The monkeys know that they contain food and they will be stolen from you. Hold on to your passport and wallet well when on this trail. The trails here are also not like those in America where there is a guard rail to keep you from falling off the edge of a cliff. You will fall off if you get to close to the edge and slip. I was trying to get a picture near the edge and slipped on the loose gravel and realized how easily I could have slid farther. Be careful and use common sense. The falls are highest in March-June, and lowest in October-January. High or low it is still incredible to see, it’s one of the 7 natural wonders of the earth and the pride of Zambia.

Chaminuka Game Drive

We went on an afrternoon game drive with them. It was nice, about an hour. We saw a number of different deer and antelope, and giraffes. We heard another group saw elephants but ours didn’t. Those in the group with me weren’t all that impressed with the enclosures the big cats were kept in. They had lions and cheetahs. We were told they had dozens (hundreds?) of acres to roam, but all we saw were them in a small area. We may have come at a bad time though when they were moved into smaller enclosures for a good reason I don’t know. I’d say if you’re already at Chaminuka for something else than go for it, but I wouldn’t come to Chaminuka specifically for the game drive, there are better parks.

Visit their site for more details: www.chaminuka.com

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Lilayi Elephant Nursery

I’m gonna preface this by saying I did not do the game drive, or see any of the animals, besides the babies in the nursery. I simply went to see the baby elephants. They are SO cute and if you love elephants I would recommend going to see them and spending the afternoon just watching them. That being said, if you have seen elephants before and are not totally “in love” with them, maybe see what else Lilaya has to offer. The part where you see the baby elephants is just a small enclosure that you climb up into a tree house like structure to watch them. They’re very cute, and I’m glad I saw it, but it was an excursion that was given to me for free, I’m not sure I would have gone there on my own otherwise. It’s a little bit of a drive outside of main Lusaka.

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Mwela Rock Art

This place is only about 5km outside of Kasama. You can try hitching from past the roundabout, or get in a shared taxi from next to shoprite for less than 20kwa. The place is only 8kwa to get in with a work permit. Not sure how much otherwise but they didn’t even check my permit. If you tell them it’s your first time they’ll find a guide to go with you. I believe you’re supposed to tip this guy at the end, I wasn’t expecting that and literally only had enough to get back to town and felt really bad. If it’s not your first time there you’re free to just roam as you’d like. People like to go and watch the sunset at the top of the rocks. If it’s your first time the guide will show you about 4 sites with rock paintings and caves from the Twa people who used to live there before the Bemba tribe moved in. It’s really interesting to see and the views from the top of the rocks are beautiful.

Mwela

Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve

Going here was a nice, cheap, day trip from our lodge in Nkhata bay. We met our tour guide at the lodge. Normally I’d advise against just spur-of-the-moment going with the first tour guide who approaches you. It could have very easily been a fraud. But, lucky for us he turned out to be a somewhat decent guy. He picked us up from the lodge in the morning and drove us to the park. We got stuck in a giant puddle on the way and the driver needed to pay some people to help push us out. The park had beautiful scenery. Malawi is beautiful in general, but there was something special about this place. We saw one elephant, some monkeys, some deer-like creatures and hundreds of Hippos. We saw one hippo walking through the woods. I never realized how truly big hippos were until I saw this one! I thought I was in Jurassic park or something. We spotted about a hundred hippos in the lake. We got out of the car and started walking towards them. We were able to get pretty close. Our guide got closer and seemed very excited but my friend and I stopped when they looked at us and started standing up. I know I can’t outrun a hippo. We ate lunch overlooking a beautiful valley, drove around a bit more but didn’t see anything and started back. Now I would say you should go to this park if you love hippos.. but the road leading up to the park we saw a few people carrying pieces of hippo meat that had been poached. Our wonderful tour guide even stopped to see if he could buy some, and that’s when I saw a giant hippo graveyard. So the park I wouldn’t give the highest review for conservation, or variety in animal population (as it was mostly hippos). Our guide was very enthusiastic, cheap, and friendly, but his enthusiasm at buying poached hippo meat threw me off a bit. It was a nice change of pace, and a chance to leave the lodge and see more of Malawi though. I’d recommend going to Vwaza if you’re in the area, catch a nice deal, and don’t have the biggest problem with hippo poaching.

Vwaza Wildlife Reserve

Malawi – December 2015

Malawi is a small but very beautiful country. It is filled with rolling hills covered with beautiful farms. Lake Malawi is HUGE, and filled with beautiful turquoise-blue water. The lake is a great destination for scuba diving. A few of my friends got scuba certified while we were there. When we went they recently raised the US visa to around $80, about double of what it was a few months earlier. We thought that was pretty steep for such a small country, seeing that Zambia next door was $50, and it has a number of famous waterfalls and national parks. BUT we paid it. I was traveling in December with a group of 28 Peace Corps Volunteers. That means we travel cheap. We stayed the night in Lundazi, Zambia near the border and arranged for us to ride on the back of a cantor from Lundazi, across the border, all the way North to Mzuzu. Crossing the border was easy, but at the time they couldn’t issue visas at the border so we were instructed to go straight to immigration in Mzuzu. We made it there alright. Immigration was so slow. Granted we were 28 Americans trying to get tourist visas, but the staff was busy watching a football game. We did alright. I heard that a second group of volunteers that came by a week later were sent away and told to come back the next day, which was a pain. Getting around Malawi is very basic, you take a minibus. We bought out a minibus to take us back a little south to Nkhata bay. I loved my week and a half in Malawi. I feel like I saw enough, and had enough of the transport that I don’t need to go back again. Malawi