Lusaka, Zambia 17 August 2012

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September 20th 2012
Published: September 20th 2012
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Lusaka, Zambia 17 August 2012:

After a 12 hour drive, some bumpy, some not, we drove through a beautiful valley and came to a bridge that we were not allowed to take a photo of, and there was an army guy with a gun there making sure there were no photos taken!!

We arrived just before sunset, to the camp site that was actually a wildlife farm. The owner several years ago decided to take in rescued and injured animals. We only saw gazelles, zebras and giraffes. Giraffes are not native to Zambia. Several of our group took their cameras out at dusk and got some lovely photos of the family of 5 giraffes.

The bar had a pool table and the England/South African 3rd game of a test match was being screened on the TV in the bar. The site was well set up for overland trucks, with circular brick shelters with stone tables. Another nice dinner followed by more chatting.

Lusaka was the site of a village named after its headman Lusakaa, which, according to history, was located at Manda Hill, near where the Zambia's National Assembly building now stands. In the Nyanja language, Manda means graveyard. The area was expanded by European (mainly British) settlers in 1905 with the building of the railway.

In 1935, due to its fairly central location, its situation on the railway and at the crossroads of the Great North Road and Great East Road, it was chosen to replace Livingstone as the capital of the British colony of Northern Rhodesia.

After the federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia in 1953, it was a centre of the independence movement amongst some of the educated elite that led to the creation of the Republic of Zambia. In 1964, Lusaka became the capital of the newly independent Zambia.

In recent years, Lusaka has become a popular urban settlement for Zambians and tourists alike. Its central nature and fast growing infrastructure sector have increased donor confidence and as such Zambians are seeing signs of development in the form of job creation, housing, etc. Consequently, it is thought that with proper and effective economic reforms, Lusaka as well as Zambia as a whole will develop considerably. We saw a lot of evidence of this. Lusaka is home to a diverse community of foreigners, many of whom work in the aid industry as well as diplomats, representatives of religious organizations and some business people.

Zambia's highest institution of learning the University of Zambia is based in Lusaka. Lusaka has some of the finest schools in Zambia, including the American International School.

Attractions include Lusaka National Museum, the Political Museum, the Zintu Community Museum, the Freedom Statue, the Zambian National Assembly, the Agricultural Society Showgrounds (known for their annual agricultural show), the Moore Pottery Factory, the Lusaka Playhouse theatre, a cinima, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka, a cenotaph, a golf club, the Lusaka Central Sports Club, and the zoo and botanical gardens of the Munda Wanga Environmental Park. Along Great East Road are the two largest shopping malls in Zambia, Arcades shopping mall (with open-air storefronts) and Manda Hill shopping mall (enclosed shops), which was recently revamped and is home to international stores such as Shoprite, Game and Woolworths, a new movie theater and boasts of the first KFC in the country. We visited this shopping centre as well as KFC and bough some hot chips and icecream.

The city centre includes several blocks west of Cairo Road, around which lie the New City Market and Kamwala Market, a major shopping area, as well as the Zintu Community Museum. Further east lies the government area, including the State House and the various ministries, around the Cathedral Hill and Ridgeway areas. One of the main streets and points of interest upon business is the street of Cairo Road.

Some buildings along Cairo Road are the Findeco House (25 floors), Central Bank Building, Indeco House (19 floors), Zambia National Building Society Headquarters (20 floors), Old Zambia Lotto Head Office, Zambia National Commercial Bank (21 floors), Barclays Bank Zambia Head Office, Stanbic Bank Zambia Headquarters, Investrust Bank (18 floors). This is a very different city compared to all others we have seen in Eastern Africa.

The rugby union players Corne Kringe and George Gregan, who respectively captained the South Africa and Australia teams in both the 2002 and 2003 Tri Nations Series, were coincidentally born in the same hospital in Lusaka.

Primarily due to its high altitude, Lusaka features a humid subtropical climate. Its coldest month, July, has a monthly average temperature of 16°C, a couple of degrees shy of what would constitute a tropical climate, specifically a tropical savannah climate. Lusaka features a relatively warm climate, typically with warm (but not hot) summers and very mild “winters”. The city’s warmest month, October, sees monthly average high temperatures at around 25°C. Lusaka features a wet season and a dry season with the dry season predominating the year, lasting from April through October. In the morning we were there, it was cool just before sunrise, needing a jacket.

Other attractions in the town were the Soweto Market the front is a modern covered market. Behind it lies a massive market selling everything from beans to used clothes. In it are traditional medicines, bicycle repair men and engine spare parts.

The Anglican Cathedral (on the corner of Church Road and Independence Avenue) is an elegant concrete building with tall stained glass windows. Properly titled the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, it opened for worship on 14th September, 1962.

Munda Wanga Environmental Park Wildlife Park and Sanctuary, Botanical Gardens, Recreational Village and Environmental Education Centre. Started in 1956 as private garden and has grown to be Zambia's Premier Environmental Education Facility. With over 50,000 visitors a year Munda Wanga reaches out to the future of Zambia to learn about their environment and natural heritage. Recently Phoenix the baby elephant has been released back to the wild, 20 baboons are on their way to a new life in the bush. However, there are still plenty of animals that find their way in to the sanctuary after being found in the illegal pet-trade. The Botanical Gardens are a place to relax and leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind you. The Terrace Bar and Restaurant has nice food and cold drinks available.

The National Museum, Independence Avenue (next to the new Government Complex). 9am-4.30 7 days a week. A classic dusty, underfunded African museum that is worth a visit if you are at a loose end. We did not have time to do this. An amusingly stark 'collection' of modern art on the ground floor, coupled with a more engaging exhibition upstairs covering Zambia's colonial history, village life, and witchcraft. Lots of old newspaper cuttings giving an interesting glimpse in to the prejudiced views of British Colonial Officers and their attitudes towards the 'natives'.

Saturday 18 August 2012:

We left Lusaka at 6.00am for our 500km drive to Livingstone.

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