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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.

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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.

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

To Dar es Salaam!

-Christine

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