Tag Archives: Zambia

My Newest Addiction…

While we were in Zambia, we were persuaded not only to do a safari, but to visit Victoria Falls.  We decided that we would make this an early anniversary trip.  We only went for four days, but they were the best four days we have had in a very long time.  We spent the first two nights at a very budget motel and then splurged the last two nights on a hotel that was out of this world.  Well, let me be more accurate, we stayed at a luxury chalet.  Oh baby!!!  We would normally never be able to afford a place like this, but one of our dear friends at Northrise University helped us to get a massive discount.  It was one of the best gifts we have ever been given.

Our first night we enjoyed the splendor of Victoria Falls and got sufficiently soaked.  Seriously, we had two rain coats on and we were still soaking wet!  Then the next day we went on our day safari.  The next morning we left for our luxury chalet.  We had no idea what to expect, but we were not disappointed.  We spent an hour driving to the most remote hotel I have ever stayed in.  Then we turned off the main road and basically went four wheeling for about thirty minutes.  Eventually, we pulled up to the front gate of the Islands of Siankaba where we were greeted by our hosts.  Our bags were taken away and we signed in at the front desk.  We were then led out to the docks where we boarded a boat that speed upstream.

We eventually came to an island in the middle of the Zambezi River and my breath was completely taken away.  There was a large sweeping veranda with plush sofas and large cushy chairs.  There were fire pits everywhere, and off to the right were swinging rope bridges that lead from one island to the next.  On the next island you could see the chalets peeking out of the tree tops.  It was like a luxury Swiss Family Robinson.  I was in awe.

Our room was this amazing tent that had a heated bed, a beautiful claw-foot tub, and a porch that over-looked the river where hippos came in at night. We woke up each morning to tea being delivered to our room and we would sit and watch the sun come up as monkeys played on our porch.  It was surreal.  We took walks around the island, got massages, and were able to go out to the village of Siankaba where we met the most amazing people.  The hotel staff were all a apart of the Siankaba tribe and they take great pride in their village.  My favorite part of the whole trip was meeting all the children who attend the local primary school.  The sang and danced for me and Ben and my heart completely melted.  I wanted to take all of them home with me!  Those two days were filled with fun as we adventured around our tiny island.  I felt like a kid chasing monkeys and searching for hippos.

There was no TV, internet access, or phone signal so it was just me and Ben and nature.  It was two of the best days we have ever had together.  Since it was an all-inclusive hotel, we were able to enjoy all sorts of activities for no extra charge.  We ate the most amazing food, went on sunset river cruises each night, and just enjoyed the company of the other guests on the island.  The most amazing part of the whole trip was our last night when Ben and I happened to be the only guests staying on the island!  The staff went out of their way to make it a special night for us.  They set up an enclosed gazebo for us so we could have an intimate dinner together.  They lit lots of candles and served us the most delicious dinner.  We even tried crocodile tail (a bit on the chewy side, but pretty tasty)!  After dinner we crossed over the rope bridges and headed off to our what was our private island for the night.  Talk about a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I could have stayed there forever, but alas, we had to return to Cambridge.  I have never stayed anywhere with better service, more delectable food, or a more peaceful environment.  It was the best early anniversary gift we could have given each other.  I don’t know if we will ever be able to return, but I know I always remember those two days at Siankaba as two of the most relaxing, most romantic days we have shared together.  What can I say, luxury suits us well!

Here are some pictures from our trip, but please take a look at the webiste as I couldn’t even capture how beautiful this place was! http://www.siankaba.net/


Up Close and Personal

I have fed large animals out of the palm of my hand and seen prowling cats just a few feet away, but all of this was with large fences and glass enclosures separating us.  Though the experience is fun and admittedly cheaper, it can’t compare to the uniqueness of a safari.  I like animals just fine, but I am not what you would call an animal lover. So you can imagine how surprised I was at how much I loved a day spent just driving around looking at animals.  I have never experienced anything like it.

We hadn’t planned on going on a safari while we were in Zambia, but everyone there was adamant that this was not to be missed.  And really, how could we pass that up?  We crossed the border of Zambia and entered Botswana where we headed to Chobe National Park.  We were only able to do a day safari, but it was one of the most memorable parts of our trip.

We did a river safari in the morning and a game drive in the afternoon.  Never in my life have I seen so many animals.  The river especially, was teeming with life.  We saw crocodiles, hippos, water buffalo, warthogs, huge iguanas (which we mistaked for a snake swimming next to our boat and Ben nearly jumped out of his seat!), antelope, elephants and so much more.  Both of us thought that you would spend most of the time driving around and occasionally see animals, but we would barely go two or three minutes and there would be another group of animals.  It was astonishing.

The river safari was Ben’s favorite, but mine was without a doubt the game drive.  We saw hundreds and hundreds of monkeys and I have to say that they were probably some of the cutest animals I have ever seen.  I could have fit some of them in the palm of my hand.  It seemed that around every turn there were fifty more monkeys and to my surprise 20-30 elephants.  The elephants were my favorite part.  We saw well over 200 and it was just incredible.  We saw little baby elephants lying in the road and huge male elephants that towered above our jeep.

At one point we turned a corner and the jeep came to an abrupt stop.  The road was blocked by elephants and to our right there was a massive female elephant.  She kept inching closer until she was only an arm’s length away.  I am normally a pretty fearful person, but I had to resist the urge to reach out and touch her trunk.  She got so close that the Japanese man behind me actually cried out!  He scooted across the seat until he was practically sitting on the lap of the girl sitting next to him.  Ben and I along with the girl got a pretty good laugh at that.

The day was filled with the most amazing discoveries.  Seeing God’s creation literally EVERYWHERE was incredible.  I don’t know quite how to explain it, but it just left you speechless.  Up close like that you just see how everything works together.  The elephants, giraffes, monkeys, antelope, and warthogs all stick together and watch out for each other.   It was like watching the live production of Lion King…well, minus the lions!  The shere number of animals we saw was amazing, but we didn’t see any cats which was a bit disappointing.  I guess that just gives us an excuse to go on another one!  Seriously though, this was one of the most memorable days of my life.  I am now completely addicted to safaris.  So who is going to be joining me and Ben on our next one?!!

Back to Life as Normal – Reflections on Zambia

The last few months have been an absolute whirlwind.  The fact that tomorrow is the first of July is bewildering to me since inwardly I feel like it is only March.  Where have the last three months gone?  Here is a quick run down of what all has gone on in our lives the last few months: a youth girls sleepover, the Cocksworth wedding, a three-week trip to Zambia, a girls weekend away, Ben’s parents arrived and we went to Brighton one weekend, I worked a few days and then we headed off to Rome for the Jubilee weekend, Ben’s parents left, Ben’s sister and her husband arrived a week later, the May ball took place, we attended another May ball two nights later, I worked a few days and then went to San Sebastian Spain with Ben’s sister and hubby, and then they left for the states on Tuesday.  It has been four days of calm and quiet.  My mind and body are only just beginning to take a deep breath and realise that the craziness is over.  Back to life as normal.

Now that I am starting to unwind, I would like to share some of my own thoughts on our adventure to Zambia.  This was our first trip to Africa and it was amazing.  Not in the “everything went perfectly” kind of way, but in the “I LOVE these people” kind of way.  It seems like a lot of people go to Africa and their lives are completely changed.  I think I experienced more of a gradual shift in my thinking and awareness of African culture.

Every day I learned something new.  I learned about courting and marriage customs. I learned that there are 73 tribes and numerous languages in just this one country.  I learned that nshima (pronounced cheema) is the staple food and they eat it every day and it is eaten with their hands.  I learned that fruits apart from mangos, are a luxury.  I learned that Zambians are extremely proud to be Zambians and take great pride in being a peaceful country.  I learned about generosity and kindness nearly every day.  I learned that Zambians take great pride in being a Christian country and I was blown away by how this actually plays out in so many aspects of their day-to-day lives. More than anything, I learned that the Zambian people are full of love and laughter.  You have not known hospitality until you have been to Zambia.

The experiences we had were wonderful, but as Ben said in our first post, it was the people who made our trip.  In just three weeks we made some amazing friends.  It was difficult to leave such loving people.  They filled me with joy and I am so grateful for the chance to have met them.  I can’t wait to tell you more about our trip…I get excited now just thinking about it again!

Impressions of Zambia

After 3 great weeks in Zambia, we’ve made it back to our home in Cambridge.  The trip flew by in an instant, but then it seems like there’s a year’s worth of experiences to talk about.  It’s funny how that happens.  We’ll probably do a few posts about different parts of our trip, but for today I’ll just share a few quick impressions that we got of Zambia during our time in the country.

1.  The thing that we loved the most about Zambian culture is the friendliness of the people.  From the moment we stepped off the plane, and actually even before that, we felt surrounded by smiles and laughter.  Strangers talk to each other like they’re family.  Everyone says hello as they pass each other on the street.  In a bus station, an attendant struck up a conversation with us.  When he found out that we live in the UK, he got really excited and told me that he has a brother in the UK.  Then he proceeded to call that brother on his cell phone and hand the phone to me, insisting that I talk to him.  We had a bunch of experiences like that, and it really was nice to be in such a friendly place.

2.  Zambians have a lot of pride in their country.  As we interacted with staff, alumni, and students at the university, we were struck by how much everybody talked about building Zambia as a country.  People were so excited to share their culture with us.  They wanted us to eat their staple food – nshima – a corn meal that is the same as masa on the inside of a tamale.  Everyone asked us if we had watched their soccer team win the Africa cup.  This was another aspect of our trip that we really enjoyed.

3.  Two things that surprised us:  First, we thought that people would be bigger, but we were like big white giants walking around the streets.  We rode a bus to Lusaka, the capital city, and the seats were like little kid seats to us.  When my shoulders are far too broad to fit in a seat, you know they’re packing them in.  Second, days started a lot earlier than we had anticipated.  For some reason, we thought that things would get started later in the morning, and people would stay up at night.  We were way off.  Everyone wakes up at daybreak and gets started early.  When Rachael found out what time we would be eating breakfast and starting the day, she pretty much flipped out.  She’s not a morning person.  I, on the other hand, think I was made for the Zambian schedule.

Those are some of our initial impressions about the Zambian culture.  More to come later…

Northrise University Visit – It’s finally here

Ever since we started attending Grace Fellowship Church in Costa Mesa, CA, we’ve been hearing about the amazing work of Northrise University.  Located in Ndola, Zambia, Northrise is a Christian university that provides high quality training in business, agriculture, technology, and theology.   Graduates of Northrise go on to make a tremendous difference in their communities as leaders in the workplace and in the church.  And as the first nationally recognized private university in Zambia, Northrise is doing a truly unique work in a place where only 1 in 20 high school graduates ever has the opportunity to continue their education.

Our church in California has partnered extensively with Northrise from its beginnings in 2004, and so for years we’ve wanted to visit the school that we have heard so much about.  In a few days, we’ll finally get that opportunity.  On Thursday we’ll be going to Zambia for 3 weeks!  Ben will be teaching an intermediate Greek class for a group of pastors at the school, and Rachael will be helping out with a project in their library.  We’ve been prepping feverishly for the trip, and it’s hard to express how thrilled we are about this opportunity!

We’d appreciate your prayers as we go on this journey, and be sure to learn more about the university at the Northrise Blog and Northrise Website!