2.22.2013

A little travel advice if you are heading to Chipata...

A view of Chipata from Dean's Hill View Lodge.
After our safari in South Luangwa National Park, we started to make our way down Zambia to Livingstone. We took a seven hour bus ride from Chipata to Lusaka, and then another seven hour bus ride from Lusaka to Livingstone. We knew it was going to be an adventure, but it was even more comical and memorable than we could have expected.

So, without further ado, here are my travel tips if you ever find yourself in Chipata, Zambia in transit to another Zambian destination...
Joanna and Janice enjoying some corn at the bus station. 
1. When you arrive at the bus station and the employee inside the kiosk tells you that there are no more buses to Lusaka for the day, believe him. Do not believe the people sitting outside the station with their bags packed and ready to go. 

We waited for over four hours on a bench hopeful that our bus was coming, and it never did. We took turns going to the bathrooms across the street and sprinted back at the sound of any approaching bus. We probably looked so ridiculous. We paced ourselves with activities in order to pass the time; a bag of chips here, a page of an US Weekly magazine there. After hours of waiting, we finally gave into the fact that no more buses were coming. We bought our tickets for the 5 am bus and headed to our lodge.
2. If you need to stay the night in Chipata, Dean's Hill View Lodge is the place to go. Although it feels a little strange when you walk through the large, metal driveway gates and see a barn-like structure and chickens roaming about, it is honestly a perfect place to crash for a night. We had two rooms that were a short distance to the communal bathrooms. The food in the main lodge area was good, and we were able to walk into town for water, ATMs, and snacks from the lodge. 
3. Wear the appropriate footwear, because Chipata is dusty. 

Janice's feet were definitely the dirtiest of the bunch, and we all spent some time that night scrubbing our feet in the bathroom sinks.
4. If you walk into town, pick up some Stoney Ginger Brew and a sampling of potato chips. One of our favorite flavors was Thai Sweet Basil. These snacks will come in handy when you play cards for hours in the main lodge as you wait for the dinner hour to roll around. 
5. Take a bike taxi at some point during your stay. 

For a small amount of Kwacha, you can ride on the back of a bike down the main stretch of road alongside the car traffic. I held on for dear life and loved every second of my ride.
6. When you ask a cab driver to pick you up at 4 am at your lodge to go to the bus station, trust that he will arrive. Do not doubt how reliable he is. You will make it to the bus on time. 

At 3:45 am, we were waiting by the gate with our backpacks strapped to our backs ready to go. We were not taking any chances missing that 5 am bus. When our cab driver did not arrive promptly at 4 am, we decided our only option was to walk down the big dirt hill to the Texaco station in search of a ride. We slowly made our way down the dusty road, flashlights in hand, in pitch black darkness. Dogs were barking, our feet were slipping, and we had no idea what we were doing. We were relieved when headlights approached us halfway down and our cab driver came to our rescue. And laughed at us for attempting to walk in the dark.

If you follow these tips, you will have a wonderful time in transit through Chipata!

4 comments :

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