TravelAround: CopperBelt, Zâmbia

Zâmbia is a southern African country that has Angola, Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia as neighboring countries. With a large country size and a very disperse population of 13M+, Zambia is one of the largest mining countries, with a region named Copper Belt as a reference to that specific industry. This was the zone I visited for a short period of 5 days, right in the middle of the rainy season, also known as the green season.

Zâmbia is one of the last safe “real Africa” countries out there. Rivers carve their path into the soil and in many locations they turn into fabulous water falls, surrounded by the acre Savannah colors promoting spectacular images. Unfortunately, this trip did not allow me to go into discovery mode. The tight schedule and the rainy seasons fight my desire to go into the bush and find such a places to capture. Maybe next time…

Going from from Portugal to Zâmbia is more of a journey than a trip. Due to the nonexistence of direct flights, it took me over 24 hours to get to Ndola and over 30 to get back, hopping through Frankfurt and Johannesburg. Arriving at Ndola, one of the biggest cities in the country, you feel like you are diving to the bush. No big buildings and a generous portion of the forest mixed into the city blocks surround the small yet international airport. This will be my resting spot for the week, which means communing 60 KM each way everyday on the way to Kitwe.

Heads up: Taking photographs in Zâmbia has important restrictions that one must take into account. It is strictly forbidden to photograph any important facilities, being army, power plants, mines, etc. Make sure to ask before you shoot to avoid unnecessary stresses.

December is right in the middle of the rainy season. And when it rains.. it pours! But, when it stops… beauty shines through.


I have heard, read and seen some TV shows about the African storms. As always, they don’t even come close to the reality. It is a tremendous experience. Lightnings flashing through the air several times a second! Most of them are cloud-to-cloud and hence no thunder in the end, but once in a while, they actually strike on land and the sound propagating through the plane is unbelievable. Cumulonimbus are the cloud formations responsible for such storms and they can be seen as we fly in.


Capturing a lightning in a picture is a challenge, one I wasn’t equipped to achieve without luck, so I opted for a short video that captured it all: rain, the sky looking a strobe light from a disco and one lightning striking.

Fortunately these storms tend to strike late in the afternoon and evening, which man I was safe at the hotel. Standing on the porch watching the and But imagining such an experience while sleeping in a tent on the bush… that should be really an amazing experience…

One week on the road commuting between Ndola and Kitwe were the scene for most of my captures:

Sunsets were out of this world… The beautiful warm colors, the smell of the wet land mixed with the coal ovens…

Did I enjoy it? Watch my face: an image’s worth a thousand words, right?

Images captured with my old faithful companion: a Canon G15. No filters, handheld.

Experience technicalities
Global [C] – Want to be back
Safety (see GPI)  2 (out of 5)
(Lower is safer)
Photographic potential  

Street, People, Landscape. The real Africa.

WARNING: there are serious restriction regarding photographing facilities, security forces, etc. Inform yourself and when in doubt, ask for permission.

Weather Warm and wet (December, rainy season)

30 hours with hops in Frankfurt, Germany and Johannesburg, South Africa , VISA at the border control ($50 USD)


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