Lusaka is the capital and largest city of Zambia. The two main languages spoken in Lusaka are English and Nyanja. It is located in the southern part of the central plateau of the country at an elevation of 1300 m and has a population of 3,100,000 (2007 estimate). With one of the fastest growing city centres in Africa, Lusaka is located in a productive farm area and is the administrative, financial and commercial centre of Zambia. It is thought that with proper and effective economic reforms, Lusaka as well as Zambia as a whole will develop considerably. Lusaka is home to a diverse community of foreigners, many of whom work in the aid industry as well as diplomats, representatives of religious organizations and some business people.
According to history, Lusaka was once the site of a village named after its headman Lusaka which was located at Manda Hill, near where the National Assembly building now stands. In the local Nyanja language, manda means graveyard. The area was expanded by European (mainly British) settlers in 1905 with the building of the railway. In 1935, due to its fairly central location on the railway and at the crossroads of the Great North Road and Great East Road, it was chosen to replace Livingstone as the capital of the British colony of Northern Rhodesia. After the federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia in 1953, it was a centre of the independence movement which led to the creation the Republic of Zambia. In 1964 Zambia became the ninth African state to gain independence from the British crown and President Kaunda took power, with Lusaka as its capital.
Chipata has a population of around 75,000 and is the capital of the Eastern Province of Zambia. Formerly known as Fort Jameson, the city is located near the border of Malawi on the highway connecting the capitals Lilongwe (130 km) and Lusaka (550 km). As we drive from Lilongwe to Chipita in Malawi there is a steady stream of people and transport bringing in supplies that are not always readily available elsewhere in Africa. You will also find colourful fruit & vegetable markets and an unexpected amount of ornate mosques due to its large Islamic Indian community.
South Luangwa National Park
South Luangwa National Park in eastern Zambia is a world-renowned wildlife haven, and famous for walking safaris. It supports large populations of Thorneycroft’s Giraffe, and herds of elephant and buffalo often several hundred strong, while the Luangwa River supports abundant crocodiles and hippopotamus. Founded as a game reserve in 1938, it became a national park in 1972 and now covers 9 050 square km.
Hippos thrive here due to the patches of flooded grassland habitats (floodplains) that are found close to the river, on which they graze at night. It is possible to see pods of up to 500 hippos in the dry season as the river shrinks and they are confined to areas of deep pools. On average there are probably 35 – 42 hippos per km! They are integral to the ecosystem here, their dung released into the river fertilises its waters and sustains the fish population which in turn sustains the crocodiles. The park is also reputed to have the highest concentration of leopard in Africa. It is estimated that there is one leopard for every km of river in the Luangwa Valley, so your chances of seeing this elusive nocturnal cat are very high.
The lake, third largest in Africa and eighth largest in the world, is situated between Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. The lake's tropical waters teem with more fish species than any other lake on earth and offers wonderful snorkelling and diving experiences. The fish also support the local people, who depend on the lake for survival, using dug-out canoes to set out long nets. There are many different ethnic groups living in the vicinity and many different dialects are spoken. Many are Christians, as a result of the numerous missionaries that passed through the area, while many have retained their traditional belief systems.
In 1859 David Livingstone reached Lake Malawi when he was trying to put an end to the slave trade. He then returned in 1861 accompanied by seven missionaries. They opened a mission station in the south lake area but suffered from malaria, illness and conflict with slavers. In 1864 the surviving missionaries withdrew to Zanzibar. Livingstone then returned to the region in 1866 as part of an expedition to find the source of the Nile. In 1869 he pushed north and was out of contact for two years. He was found by journalist Henry Stanley on the banks of Lake Tanganyika in 1871 and Stanley uttered the famous words “Dr Livingstone I presume”.
Livingstone continued on his mission and died at a village called Chitombo in Zambia in 1873. His death rekindled a desire in missionaries to come to Malawi and eventually, after setting up missions in various bad malaria areas, they set up a mission called Livingstonia in the highlands of the eastern escarpment (with no malaria). It is still in operation today and visitors can hike to the mission. The walk is quite strenuous and you should be reasonably fit especially if it’s hot. It’s about a 6 to 8-hour round trip.
Tanzania is mountainous in the northeast where Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest freestanding mountain, is situated. To the north and west are the Great Lakes of Lake Victoria (Africa's largest lake) and Lake Tanganyika (Africa's deepest lake, known for its unique species of fish). Central Tanzania comprises a large plateau with plains and arable land. The eastern shore is hot and humid with the island of Zanzibar lying just offshore.
Tanzania has a tropical type of climate. In the highlands, temperatures range between 10˚C and 20˚C during cold and hot seasons respectively. The rest of the country has temperatures rarely falling lower than 20˚C. The hottest period extends between November and February (25˚C - 31˚C) while the coldest period occurs between May and August (15˚C - 20˚C).
Along the main highway artery that connects Dar es Salaam and Iringa, one travels through Baobab Valley. An endearing local saying goes that if you see a tree small enough to put your arms around, all your dreams and wishes will come true. Living up to its name, the valley is heavily populated by baobabs, one of the great symbols of Africa. This bizarre tree, known as the “upside down tree” is surrounded by myth and folklore, and has a multitude of uses for the local people and wildlife: the fruit is eaten; gum and fibre is made into rope, paper, and cloth; and bark and oil from the baobab seeds have medicinal properties.
Etosha National Park
Etosha, meaning “Great White Place”, is dominated by a massive mineral pan, part of the great Kalahari Basin. The Etosha pan, originally a lake fed by the Kunene River, covers about 5 000 square km, a quarter of the Etosha National Park. The lake dried up thousands of years ago and is now a dusty depression of salty clay which occasionally fills with the rare heavy rains. This temporary water supply stimulates the growth of algae which attracts wading birds and flamingos by their thousands. Large concentrations of wildlife gather year-round at the perennial springs on the edges of the pan. This amazing abundance of wildlife makes Etosha one of Southern Africa's finest and most important game reserves. Covering an area of 22 270 square km, it is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and, surprisingly, one species of fish.
Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam (Arabic translation: “house of peace”), formerly Mzizima, is the largest city in Tanzania. With a population estimated around 2,500,000, it is also the country’s richest city and an important economic centre. Though Dar es Salaam lost its official status ascapital city to Dodoma in the mid-1970s, it remains the centre of the permanent central government and continues to serve as the capital for the surrounding Dar es Salaam Region.
In 1859, Albert Roscher of Hamburg became the first European to land in Mzizima (“healthy town”). In 1866 Sultan Seyyid Majid of Zanzibar gave it its present name. Dar es Salaam fell into decline after Majid’s death in 1870 but was revived in 1887, when the German East Africa Company established a station there. The town’s growth was facilitated by its role as the administrative and commercial centre of German East Africa and industrial expansion resulting from the construction of the Central Railway Line in the early 1900s.
Being situated so close to the equator and the warm Indian ocean, the city experiences generally tropical climatic conditions, typified by hot and humid weather throughout much of the year. Annual rainfall is approximately 1,100 mm and in a normal year there are two distinct rainy seasons: "the long rains", which fall during April and May and "the short rains", which fall during October and November.
Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of the United Republic of Tanzania. It comprises the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometres off the coast of the mainland and consists of a number of small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, informally referred to as Zanzibar) and Pemba. Zanzibar was once a separate state with a long trading history within the Arab world; it united with Tanganyika to form Tanzania in 1964 and still enjoys a high degree of autonomy within the union. The capital of Zanzibar, located on the island of Unguja, is Zanzibar City and its historic centre, known as Stone Town, is a World Heritage Site.
Zanzibar’s main industries are spices, raffia and tourism. Zanzibar is also the home of the extremely endangered Red Colobus Monkey.The word “Zanzibar” probably derives from the Persian, Zangi-bar (“coast of the blacks”). However, the name could also have been derived from the Arabic Zayn Z’al Barr (“fair is this land”). “Zanzibar” often refers especially to Unguja Island and is sometimes referred to as the “Spice Islands,” though this term is more commonly associated with the Maluku Islands in Indonesia.
Some trivia: Zanzibar was the first region in Africa to introduce colour television, in 1973. The current TV-station is called TvZ. The first television service in mainland Tanzania was not introduced until some twenty years later.
The musician Farrokh Bulsara (a.k.a Freddie Mercury) of Queen was born in Unguja, Zanzibar on September 5, 1946 to Indian-Parsi parents, who were employed by the British colonial administration. There is a restaurant named ‘Mercury’s’ on the beachfront of Stone Town. In September 2006, a radical Islamic group on the archipelago, Uamsho, forced organizers to abandon plans to mark his 60th birthday, saying he violated Islam with his openly gay lifestyle. Zanzibar criminalized homosexuality in 2004 but despite this it remains a popular resort destination for the South African gay community.
Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti is most famous for the largest and longest overland migration in the world. This migration is one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world. Around October, nearly 2 million herbivores travel from the northern hills toward the southern plains, crossing the Mara River, in pursuit of the rains. In April, they then return to the north through the west, once again crossing the Mara River. This phenomenon is sometimes called the Circular Migration. Over 250 000 wildebeest alone will die along the journey from Tanzania to Masai Mara Reserve in upper Kenya, a total of 800 km. Death is often caused by injury, exhaustion, or predation.
Approximately 70 larger mammals and some 500 avifauna species are found there. This high diversity in terms of species is a function of diverse habitats ranging from riverine forests, swamps, kopjes, grasslands and woodlands. Blue Wildebeests, gazelles, zebras and buffalos are some of the commonly found large mammals in the region.
The Ngorongoro area is part of the Serengeti ecosystem, and to the north-west it adjoins the Serengeti NP and is contiguous with the southern Serengeti plains. These plains also extend to the north into the unprotected Loliondo division and are kept open to wildlife through transhuman pastoralism practiced by Masai. The south and west of the area are volcanic highlands and the southern and eastern boundaries are approximately defined by the rim of the Great Rift Valley wall, which also prevents animal migration in these directions.
Arusha is surrounded by some of Africa's most famous landscapes and national parks. Beautifully situated below Mount Meru on the eastern edge of the eastern branch of the Great Rift Valley, the city has a temperate climate due to its position on the slopes of Mount Meru. It is close to Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Olduvai Gorge, Tarangire National Park, and Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as having its own Arusha National Park on Mount Meru.
The primary industry of the region is agriculture, with large vegetable and flower producers sending high-quality produce to Europe. Small-scale agriculture was badly affected by the coffee crisis of recent years and is now largely subsistence farming. Arusha has several factories including a brewery, tyre and fibreboard plant, and a large pharmaceuticals maker.
Nairobi is the capital and largest city in Kenya. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Masai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is surrounded by several expanding villa suburbs.
Founded in 1899 as a simple rail depot on the railway linking Mombasa to Uganda, the town quickly grew to become the capital of British East Africa in 1907 and eventually the capital of a free Kenyan republic in 1963. During Kenya's colonial period, the city became a centre for the colony's coffee, tea and sisal industry. Nairobi is the most populated city in East Africa, with a current estimated population of about 3 million.
Nairobi is now one of the most prominent cities in Africa politically and financially. Home to many companies and organizations, including the United Nations Environment Programme and the UN Office in Africa, Nairobi is a hub for business and culture. The Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) is one of the largest in Africa, ranked fourth in terms of trading volume and capable of making 10 million trades a day. The Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC) defines Nairobi as a prominent social centre.