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Falling for Zambia:

After a four-day rail trip, the seven-hour bus ride from Lusaka to Livingstone seems like a walk in the park. My three-day stay in the adventure capital of Zambia includes a stroll through the Victoria Falls National Park to see the stunning waterfalls, high tea at the Royal Livingstone Hotel, where I practically rub shoulders with a zebra, and a sunset cruise on the Zambezi, watching hippos and crocodiles while sipping G&Ts.

TIP: In ‘Livi’ stay at Jollyboys Backpackers Lodge and Camp.

Arresting views:

The Tazara ‘Mukuba Express’ service, which I take from Kapiri back to Dar, has plenty of local Kilimanjaro and Mosi beer on sale to keep me happy. This time we depart on time and the trip only takes two days, although it’s not without drama. Just before we reach Mbeya, in Tanzania’s southwest, we’re told a cargo train has derailed, affecting our journey.

We’re packed into two minibuses and driven to a train station before we board another railway at night. On the way I meet Lukáš Zavadil and his girlfriend, both TV producers from Studenka in the Czech Republic. They’ve been volunteering for an NGO in Zambia and are now taking the train to Dar, where they’ll get a ferry to Zanzibar. “It’s much, much better than travelling by bus, which is fast and furious,” Lukáš says when I ask him about the journey. “You feel so free as you enjoy the beautiful views and abandoned train stations, where time seems to have stopped.”

Back on the railway, the next afternoon we travel through the spectacular Selous Game Reserve, the largest expanse of game reserve in Africa. As I wander through the carriages, spotting impala and elephant out the window, I see a man being led through the carriage in handcuffs. The next day, through the local paper, I learn he was detained for carrying 14 elephant tasks and one hippo tooth.

Choppy seas:

Back in Tanzania it’s boiling, but there’s just enough time for a quick trip to Zanzibar for a swim. I book an afternoon ferry through Costal Fast Ferries. It’s a slightly wild ride, if only I’d had some ginger, which the next day while on a spice tour I learn is good for seasickness (but can also put men ‘in the mood’). Nutmeg is good for women, we’re told. But I’m more mesmerised by the inedible elephant apple (which apparently doubles as a hair gel) and annatto or lipstick fruit, which is just my shade of orange. We receive free accessories hand-made from leaves and have lunch before going to the beach.

Before I know it, I’m on the plane back to Uganda and I’ve got my answer: it’s the journey. While I’ve had a great time in Livingstone and Zanzibar, the undoubted highlight of my month-long holiday has been my time on the train. I’m certain I’ll never have a trip like it ever again.

TIP: In Stone Town stay at Jambo Guest House (email them at info@jamboguest.com). They can arrange spices tours, among others, for you.

Image credit: Amy Fallon, Thinkstock and http://trottininthet.blogspot.co.uk


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Planes, trains and tuk-tuks: Uganda to Zambia and back
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