Day One, Bus One

18th May 2017, we left Lusaka early this morning from the Intercity Bus Terminal. Packing had taken up most, if not all, of the night. Shweta’s brother Kshitij kindly offered to drop us off at the bus station, and other than one minor incident with some council workers, which Kshitij even more kindly offered to take care of, our trip began.

The Lusaka Intercity Bus Terminal was a flurry of activity, with luggage and people both being loaded up and shipped out to their destinations. We weren’t sure if the bustle heightened or subdued our excitement and anxiety, but we were loaded up into the bus as well. The bus was a little beaten up from its innumerable journeys. Our decision to buy tickets early turned out to be a good one. We had seats towards the front of the bus, which gave us a good view of the road, and minimized chances of motion sickness.

The bus was scheduled to depart at 6am, we left the station only about half an hour late. Within Lusaka, the bus made a few seemingly random roadside stops to pick up additional passengers, so by the time we were actually headed out of Lusaka it was around 7am. As we got on the highway, the bus picked up speed and we picked up some shut-eye. Around the turn-off for Livingstone, we stopped and one of the drivers bought what seemed like 12 dozen bananas. This was a little confusing until we realized that we were about to get a better in-flight snack than most domestic US airlines.

The rest of the trip passed between rolling hills, towering baobab and much-needed power naps. At one point along the road a sedan barrelled down alongside the bus, horn blowing and the driver waving his arm out his window. This, as it turned out, wasn’t a case of road rage but just another passenger who had missed the bus earlier on. Whatever their urgency was remained unknown, however they had decided to follow us halfway to Livingstone in order to join us. The bus stopped twice for the passengers’ convenience, and we convenienced ourselves. We had to be content with the Smoke, and skip the Thunders, of Mosi-oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls). We caught a brief glimpse of the bellowing mist rising over the horizon as we passed through Livingstone.

We drove on through to Kazungula, a small border town where a ferry over the Zambezi connects Zambia and Botswana. A long line of trucks carrying a variety of goods (Copper ore ingots being the standout) welcomes you as they wait for their turn to pass. This ferry is soon to be replaced by a bridge that is currently under construction. The ferry, as it sails through the river, crosses the only almost-quadripoint in the world, this is where the borders of Zambia and Botswana meet, and those of Namibia and Zimbabwe just miss each other by a 100-some meters. Unbelievably, the non-touching boundaries have been a reason for war in the past. From the ferry, you can see all four countries connected together by the grasslands and a big African sky.

On the banks of Zambezi is where the bus journey ended for us, and we said our goodbyes to the drivers and passengers as they continued their overnight journey to Gabarone. We completed surprisingly straightforward immigration formalities, including stepping into a pan of antibacterial liquid to prevent the spread of Foot & Mouth Disease. A short taxi ride took us to our hotel, Nkanga Guesthouse. The next day was going to be an early morning too as we were going to Chobe National Park. So we settled in, freshened up and watched the sunset.

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