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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
In just a few weeks we have covered 2,708 miles in Zambia, which is way, way more than I originally thought we would. As usual we have only just scratched the surface and I feel I could easily stay another month. Zambia has some truly wild places in the North and East that are well worth exploring.
We roll up to the border just outside the large city of Chapata, and are immediately surrounded by the usual crowd of money exchangers. While sitting in the drivers seat I negotiate a rate and proceed to change almost $500USD worth of Zambian Kwacha into Malawian Kwacha. While the two currencies share a name, they are nothing alike and I soon turn my 5,000 Kwacha into over 350,000 Malawian Kwacha. Yep, this is getting hard to keep track of!
At Immigration we’re given exit stamps and I hand over the Temporary Import Permit for the Jeep to Customs who happily wave us through.
I drive a hundred yards and park at the Malawian side where it all starts again.
At Immigration we get visas for $75 USD each. It’s only valid for a month and feel like a high price, but it is what it is. I pay $10 USD for a “road access fee” (kind of like pre-paying tolls) and another 10,000 Malawian kwatcha for a one month Temporary Import Permit for the Jeep. The extremely friendly Customs guy is very proud to welcome us into his country and is adamant we will have a wonderful time and that we will meet only friendly people!
Rolling away from the border we stop to buy our usual street food and quickly learn he was right! People go out of their way to say hello and shake hands, smiling and happily welcoming us into their country.
After a quick overnight stop in the capital of Lilongwe, we head directly for the main attraction of the country – the mighty Lake Malawi. On our arrival at dusk I am immediately impressed – a sandy beach stretches along a lake so big I can’t see the other side.
African country number 26 is underway!