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By now you'll be ready for lunch. My choice would be to take a trip down Cairo Road – a tree- lined dual carriageway that was once part of Cecil Rhodes' grand colonial vision of a route from Cape to Cairo but is now the city's principal business and retail centre – and then take the Central Park exit. Here, tucked safely away behind the bustle, you'll find The Engineers restaurant. Tell Chef Moses Lukunde that you'd like a taste of Zambia. " Anything is possible," he will probably respond – and, sure enough, the day's menu may feature anything from guinea fowl and poached bream to goat, impala and chibwabwa ( traditional pumpkin leaves with ground nuts). Your main dish will be served with Zambia's staple, nshima ( maize meal), and you will be given a bowl with hot water and lemon juice in which to wash your right hand – the hand used for eating in Zambia. Pull off a bit of nshima, squish it into a ball, and use it to mop up the other items on your dish. It's flavoursome and filling – and all for less than $ 10. With luck, your lunch will have revitalised you for the afternoon, because there's still plenty to do. First stop is the Freedom Statue on Independence Avenue. Unveiled by Kenneth Kaunda to mark the 10th anniversary of independence and honour those who lost their lives in the fight for freedom, this significant landmark features on Zambia's currency ( the kwacha). Nearby, Zambia's charmingly eclectic National Museum offers such oddities as a conch shell believed to possess the power to " jam police tape recorders so that they could not hear anything", and the preserved finger tip of Mr Abel Nchima, shot off by a colonial policeman's rifle. There are also some fascinating insights into the story of Zambia – including a section devoted to witchcraft, which offers advice on divination and how aspiring adulterers can bewitch their mistress' husband. To follow this with something a little more energetic, you could putt your way around The Lusaka Golf Course on Los Angeles Blvd, visit the water theme park Adventure City off Leopard's Hill or go bowling at Arcades, across from the cinema. There's also Munda Wanga Environmental Park ( www. mundawanga. com) off Kafue Road in Chilanga, where the botanical gardens are the perfect setting for an afternoon stroll. 38 Travel Zambia November 2008 1: 30 14: 30 " In Livingstone you meet natural beauty and in South Luangwa you meet the Big Five. But in Lusaka you meet real Zambians, living real lives."

Heritage Head for the Phoenix Club on Cairo Road for a sundowner. Up here, on the 10th floor of the Radio Phoenix building, you'll have a remarkable sunset view of the city as you ponder your many options for dinner. For the self- styled ' best pepper steak in the world', try Marlin's at the Lusaka Club on Los Angeles Boulevard: the food is spectacular, the portions enormous and the prices reasonable – though not cheap. Another delicious and reasonably- priced option is Le Triumph Dolphin Restaurant and Bar in Northmead, off the Great East Road. The decor is a kind of Under- the- Sea meets Saturday Night Fever fusion, while the Creole- style prawns and potato gratin are the pick of a scrumptious menu. One word of warning: on a Friday or Saturday you should either warm up your vocal chords or protect your ears, because it's Karaoke night. The owner, Santosh, is a Karaoke legend in these parts and will gladly join anyone too timid to take to the stage alone. 22: 00 Exhausted yet? I hope not, because it's now time to explore Lusaka's famous nightlife. Room 101, at Arcades Shopping Centre, is the latest addition to the scene and probably the closest to a European nightclub you're going to find. For a cheaper evening, however, and a more mixed crowd, you could head over to Chez Ntemba on Kafue Road, where one room offers African rumba and the other hip- hop and house. Or, for live bands, try The Lounge in Northmead, not far from Le Triumph Dolphin. BedTIME Lusaka offers numerous places to rest your weary head. At the cheaper end you could try Chachacha Backpackers on Bwinjimfumu Road, only 15 minutes walk from most amenities. There is camping, a dormitory and private rooms, plus a bar, restaurant and pool table. For more creature comforts, try the Taj Pamodzi or the Southern Sun Ridgeway on Church Road, which both offer all the luxuries you'd expect from such establishments. It will set you back $ 200–$ 400, but you're staying only one night, so why not splurge? Ultimately, if you're like me, then whatever you choose to do you'll find that the smiles and spirits of Lusaka's residents alone justify your visit. In fact, you'll probably find 24 hours isn't nearly enough. As one local resident, Sikamikami, told me: " In Livingstone you meet natural beauty and in South Luangwa you meet the Big Five. But in Lusaka you meet real Zambians, living real lives." Above: Chitenges on sale at Kabwata cultural village Opposite above ( clockwise, from top left): Jacaranda tree in bloom; enjoying the nightlife at Le Triumph Dolphin; lunch at Engineers restaurant; breakfast at the Southern Sun Ridgeway Opposite below: The Freedom Statue celebrates Zambia's independence. November 2008 Travel Zambia 39 18: 30 Sights and sounds Kabwata Cultural Village, Burma Road: be prepared to haggle Lusaka National Museum, Independence Avenue: like no other national museum Chez Ntemba, Kafue Road: African beats will keep you grooving City Market, Lumumba Road: a full- on shopping experience Where to stay Chachacha Backpackers, Bwinjimfumu Road: cheap, cheerful and convenient ( www. chachachasafaris. com) Taj Pamodzi Hotel, Church Road: lavish recent renovations ( www. tajhotels. com) Southern Sun Ridgeway, Church Road: fabulous breakfast buffet ( www. southernsun. com) Lilayi Lodge, off Kafue Road ( www. lilayi. com): tranquil haven 30 minutes out of town Eating Out Marlin, Lusaka Club, Los Angeles Blvd ( tel: 252206): ' the best pepper steak in the world' Le Triumph Dolphin Restaurant & Bar ( Karaoke Fri & Sat nights), Northmead ( tel: 292133): exotic fusion of décor and flavours Portico ( Italian), in the Showgrounds ( tel: 250111): the best pizza in Lusaka? Muskaan ( Indian) Chindo Road in Kabulonga ( tel: 251666) Mr Pete's Steakhouse, Panganani Road ( tel: 223428): affordably delicious food The Engineers: arrive at 12: 30 to explore a real Zambian menu For many more places to visit, eat and stay try the Bradt Guide to Zambia ( Chris McIntyre) or visit www. zambiatourism. com/ travel/ cities/ lusaka. htm City Essessessentials