10 Million Bats and A Few Hot Springs

With Alpheus gone, we decided to gun it through Zambia in order to arrive in Tanzania for some holiday cheer with old friends.

On the recommendation of Toast Coetzer, editor for go!Namibia magazine, we took a detour to Kasanka National Park in central Zambia. Our arrival would serendipitously coincide with Kasanka’s annual bat migration. Every October, millions of gigantic fruit bats flock in from Congo to feast on the park’s plentiful mangoes. At dusk, they emerge from their roosts to feed and fill the sky in all directions–10 million strong in early December. Excited, we arrived an hour before sunset and scaled a 40-foot tall tree to witness what is dubbed “one of Africa’s greatest phenomena.”

Unfortunately, Eugene and I were facing the wrong direction for half the migration. (“Where are all the bats?!”) By the time we realized, they were almost finished. But the few minutes we stole were breathtaking.

Not an inch of untouched sky

Not an inch of untouched sky

When we arrived at camp to sleep off the long day’s drive, the last remaining bats were still flying. The sight of hundreds of Batman symbols soaring overhead is not an image likely to be forgotten.

Our next and last destination before crossing into Tanzania was Kapishya Hot Springs in northern Zambia. We stayed one night in a beautiful, rustic chalet and sought relaxation in the springs. Set in the midst of tropical plants and towering palm trees, the natural springs are sulfur-free and provided just the respite we needed before crossing the border.


And what a border crossing! Unbeknownst to us, Tunduma is the commercial border which means dozens of large trucks seeking passage. If we waited, we wouldn’t make it into Tanzania until the next day. So Eugene decided to squeeze his way in between lorries and people and oncoming traffic, inches from contact on all sides, while I sat petrified in the passenger seat, gnawing at my nails. A few locals looking for tips helped us traverse past the endless waiting line, and after a tedious hour, we finally arrived on the other side! Having come full circle, we celebrated appropriately over a Kilimanjaro beer.


At Utengele Coffee Lodge in Mbeya, celebrating our border crossing survival

To Dar es Salaam!



Victoria Falls, and a Soldier Down

After a mad dash escaping the rains and a border crossing later, we found ourselves in Livingstone, home of the Zambian side of the mighty Victoria Falls. The Falls were initially underwhelming, a result of our visit coinciding with only the beginning of the rainy season and low water-flow.

Victoria Falls

A dry-ish Victoria Falls

The low water did, however, enable us the chance to visit Devil’s Pool, an exciting swimming area at the very mouth of the waterfall that requires one to swim out to. Navigating river currents with all but two safety ropes and a ‘catcher’ to prevent you from experiencing the free-fall of the 108m waterfall into the Zambezi river below, we were fortunate to have arrived before the waters had risen any higher.

Entry into the Pool culminates in a final challenge – a leap of faith into the 5m deep ‘pool’ at the mouth of the thunderous waterfall. Too close, and there are shallow rocks; too far, and well, with the catcher now tending his second job as photographer, you were pretty much on your own – albeit with a fitting picture for the memory books.

We all made it in safely, with differing interpretations of an acceptable entry strategy:

The Flying V

The Flying V

The Rock Star

The Rock Star

Christine used her right to veto her elegant, Olympic-esque triple pike, having presumably sold rights to magazine publishers worldwide. The Pool itself was an unforgettable experience:

Devil's Pool

Devil’s Pool

And when we were given the opportunity to hang over the water’s edge with our ankles held for safety, we promptly agreed!

Overlooking the Falls

Overlooking the Fall

The Flying V once more. The latest rage?

The Flying V once more. The latest rage?

With the impending departure of intrepid traveller #3 and a dear friend, we headed to a Victory Dinner at the Zambezi Sun – only for a herd of elephants to greet us at a road crossing on the drive there. Only in Africa!

Elephant Crossing

Elephant Crossing

And just like that – an epic 6 month adventure, covering 21,000km across Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, South Africa, and Namibia, and multiple fundis in between, came to an end for dear Alpheus. As Christine and I look to our East and North African adventures ahead – we know only one thing – you will be missed, old friend!

Farewell Brother!

Closing a page on another chapter

Until next time!

– Eugene

The Caprivi Strip, Namibia

A little dated but…

Our first night in the Caprivi Strip in Namibia, we stayed right on the banks of the Okavango River in Rundu. Though the view of the river and Angola on the other side was beautiful, we decided to escape the bug-infested campsite the next day.

We arrived at Ngepi Camp on the Okavango River, an eclectic campsite with a strong liberal lean and an ablution tour, as well as a swimming pool in the Okavango River (fenced from the crocs and hippos, of course)… See for yourself!

Lounging on the Okavango

Lounging on the Okavango


Bush shower!

Bush shower!

His and hers... all in one

Notice the padlock on the men’s side

Next river destination was the Kwando River, the beginnings of the more well-known Chobe River in the Okavango Delta. Our lunch spot was on an island, reachable only via a small boat ride. Zipping at river level through the maze of tall reeds, we encountered a troupe of hippos native to the area. As we passed by, one cheeky hippo followed us with his gaze… before dunking under the water. Our driver drove our boat a little further up… and good thing he did, because the hippo proceeded to jump out of the water right where we were a few seconds ago, so high that we could see his legs. The troublemaker had tried to flip our boat!

The local troublemakers

The local bullies

Having had enough excitement for the day, we wound up at an extremely secluded camp, with our site right by the riverbed. We were unwinding over a beer and chatting about the hippos, when we noticed a pair of eyes hovering above the water, slowly encroaching upon our campsite.

"Hippo! Get to the car!"

“Hippo! Get to the car!”

Beers still in hand, we bolted to the PPE and dog-piled in the backseat.

What then commenced was a debate on appropriate action steps while the giant hippo rose from the water and began dinner 3 feet away from us. Eugene wanted to shine lights on the animal. I vetoed. He shined the lights anyway. Alpheus inquired about his camera flash. I lamented on the spilled beer and my leg cramp. Eugene yelled that we were talking too loudly.

When the hippo strolled into the nearby bushes, we dashed for our respective shelters for the night and resolved only to emerge if necessary.

Morning cruise picked us up at our campsite

Morning cruise boat picked us up right at our campsite… exactly where the hippo had risen a mere 12 hours earlier

The following day, we camped again on the Kwando River a few hundred kilometers south and retired to the roof tent when the sky was still a beautiful blue, though we only glanced at some lightning and storm clouds a ways away.

Should’ve paid a bit more attention, as an hour later, it was pouring inside our tent.

We tried frantically to sop up water with our towels, but it became clear that it was a temporary band-aid. {At this approximate moment in time, Alpheus also realized his tent’s waterproofing had worn off.} Hopes of a respite withered as the rain continued. It was the beginning of one memorable night, which would end in an uncomfortably soggy morning and a quick group decision to outrun the rainclouds.

To Zambia!


Epupa Falls

A Tale of Two Radiators

After 2 weeks, 2 cities, and 2 national parks, we finally got our holy grail in Tsumeb: a new radiator. At one point I thought the radiator just wasn’t meant to be. The one we initially ordered only fit Prados with petrol engines. A different one had to be shipped from Windhoek.

As with all other stories involving the car, there is more. The delivery truck carrying our long awaited radiator crashed on the outskirts of Tsumeb. Frank, the head mechanic, had to retrieve his order from the truck wreckage. Although the majority of his order was damaged during the crash, our radiator serendipitously survived.

With the new radiator installed and our overheating problem a thing of the past, we decided to make a detour to Epupa Falls in Kaokoland before making our way to through the Caprivi. This is no ordinary detour. Kaokoland is the northwestern corner of Namibia; it is the most sparsely populated part of the sparsely populated Namibia. It is one of the truly unspoiled frontiers of Southern Africa. Epupa Falls is 9 hours from Tsumeb in the opposite direction of the Caprivi. From Epupa we can see Angola across the Kunene River.

Back to the Heart of Africa

From the time we entered Namibia from the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park all the way through Etosha, Namibia felt like one giant tourist attraction: there was a whole lot of nothing in between lodges, National Parks, and UNESCO heritage sites.

The road from Tsumeb to Epupa Falls brought back memories of the Africa I experienced in the lesser developed Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique: Villages and huts scattered along the side of the highway, locals walking to a destination nowhere in sight, and herds of goats and cattle wandering aimlessly on the road.

The last 3 hours of our drive – a 180km stretch of corrugated gravel road from Opuwo north to Epupa – was a surreal experience. The scenery was right out of Jurassic Park: I was half-expecting a T-Rex to walk across the forest in the horizon.

Our campsite at Epupa was meters away from the (undoubtedly crocodile infested) Kunene River and less than 50 meters away from the main Falls.


View of Epupa Falls from our Campsite.


Epupa Falls

Although the scenery at Epupa was otherworldly, so was its unbearable heat and humidity. After spending some time at the falls, we decided the amazing scenery and campsite was not worth the discomfort of spending another night at Epupa. With the amazing Opuwo Country Lodge – featuring an infinity pool overlooking Jurassic Park – only 3 hours away, it was an easy decision.


Campsite at Opuwo Country Lodge

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