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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
Stamping out of Zimbabwe is quick and painless, and I hand over the Temp Import Permit for the Jeep to Customs which takes all of thirty seconds. Driving over the Vic Falls bridge gives us the best view of the falls yet, though the traffic stops us getting any photos. We’ve covered 2,672 miles in Zimbabwe over six weeks, and it has only left us wanting more!
On the Zambian side we each pay $50USD for a one month visa, and we’re amused to see an ATM that actually functions and has cash inside! wow! After six weeks in Zimbabwe it’s a shock to be able to get cash so easily. There are even guys exchanging money here, and an official foreign exchange place where we can easily buy or sell any currency in the world. It’s like being in the future! haha.
I start at Customs and wind up getting multiple pieces of paper and paying a few fees for the Jeep. There is a road tax and a carbon tax which I have to pay before I’m issued a one month Temp Import Permit for the Jeep. It’s always amusing to be forced to pay an official government fee in USD cash, when neither country actually uses it as their currency. When I say we’re not American and don’t have any USD in cash, the guy says I should exchange some Zambian money with the guys on the street – the government of Zambia won’t even accept Zambian money for official fees!
While driving away a guy flags me down and is beyond adamant a must purchase insurance – of course from him. Showing my “international” policy does nothing to dissuade him, and so the negotiations start in earnest.
Almost all the East African countries are part of a group for vehicle insurance purposes called COMESA. Once you buy COMESA the vehicle is covered all the way to Egypt. I had always planned to buy it eventually, and now seems like as good a time as any. Eventually I pay for six months of Zambia insurance, and in the morning I go into the office in Livingstone to add six months of COMESA on top of that. The friendly guy at the border explains this is the only way it can be done, for for about $70USD it’s nice to know I will have no hassles with the police or at borders about insurance – I’m actually legit now.
For our first night in Zambia we again camp near the river and fall asleep to the sound of the mighty falls. The town of Livingstone has a great museum about Zambia and Dr. Livingstone, and is a very developed place. There are new and clean supermarkets, fast food joints and gas stations. Unfortunately gas is basically the same price as Zimbabwe, around $USD 5.20/gal, so a fill up is expensive! I’m really looking forward to the cheap countries.
Everything we’ve read about Zambia says the South is not-so-exciting, and so we decide to put down some miles to explore the Northern region that borders the DRC and Tanzania. Passing through the capital of Lusaka is a stark contrast to the development, greenery and cleanliness of Harare back in Zim.
Happily the road tax I paid at the border is like an “all access pass” for Zambia – we simply show our receipt at each toll booth and are waived through without paying the $2USD. I’m not sure we’ll go through enough toll booths to make up for the $30USD it cost, so I start keeping a tally.
I’m excited to explore African country number 25!