Wouter and Elmari's Y2K Land-Rover tour, leg 3

2000-06-17 to 2000-06-22

Sioma - Mongu - Kafue - Lusaka

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Saturday, 2000-06-17 : We sorted out the finances at the office, and gave Jerry a bottle of good South African red wine for his trouble with the alternator. Left Maziba Bay at about 10:30.

A town! With a resident Land-Rover!

[WPT 005 -16.604129 23.501328 17-JUN-00 09:02 GMT 11:02 SAST Shops]

We stopped at a small village, shops and loud music. Bought a 300ml Fanta, for K1200 (R3), drink there (i.e. we had to return the bottle). Elmari bought some cloth for K7500 (R1 = K400, when we were there, work it out yourself :-).

Ferry Scary! The other side

Reached Senanga at 13:25. Crossed the river by ferry again (this one was scary, since it was obviously of a lighter construction than the other ferries we had used so far).

Found this surprisingly deep puddle in the middle of the road. I should have stopped to check, but decided, "ah what the hell" and drove on through. Then stopped and ran back to photograph Pim after I realised that it was deeper than it looked.

The dirt road changes to a good tar road outside Mongu. This is where we encountered the first of many roadblocks. I confidently went through all the checks, knowing that everything was fine... oops, the lefthand indicator was out. Oh my. I had forgotten to plug it back in after refitting the fender. I explained this to the policeman, plugged it back in, and didn't get the expected fine, just a request for magazines. We gave him a few Afrikaans mags, I don't know how much of that he could follow, but he was smiling, so we left.

We reached Mongu at about 17:00. Rene and Joke had gone ahead and they were waiting at the turn off to the hotel.

Mongu Lodge Got to the hotel, asked where the camping area was. Was shown all around the hotel, with the friendly man pointing at every bit of grass, all smiles. We took a chance and asked if we could camp on the front lawn, to our surprise he agreed. So there we were, camped on the lawn in front of the hotel, tents and everything.

Manfred negotiated the rates, and we ended up paying K50000 (R125) for all of us -- quite reasonable, I would say.

Elmari Rene Pim and Thandie Gisela Manfred watching Elmari

I immediately went to find the bar, and bought Mozi, Zambia's beer which I hadn't tasted in ages. I paid K1500 per bottle, which, incidentally, was the same price as in town -- here in South Africa we expect to pay more at a hotel bar.

We all started cooking, each in his own way. Pim did the cooking that night, chasing Thandie away from their pull-out kitchen.

[WPT 007 -15.272176 23.124472 18-JUN-00 06:25 GMT 08:25 SAST Mongu Lodge]

Sunday, 2000-06-18 : Rene and Joke left early (well, 08:00-ish) since they prefer not driving too fast (and yes, they were complaining that I was going too fast in the 1959 Series II :-). We need groceries, but it's Sunday, with hindsight I realise that this might not have been good planning. I need some oil (the engine leaks like a sieve, remember?) as well.

We fill up at the Caltex, K2688/l for diesel (R6,72) and K2815/l for petrol (R7,03). Ouch.

Mongu Market To our surprise we find everything in town open. Elmari buys vegetables, nice chewy scones, and samoosas at the market.

We hear that the Shoprite is also open, so we head there.

[WPT 008 -15.286381 23.150779 18-JUN-00 07:51 GMT 09:51 SAST Mongu Shoprite]

The Shoprite is a huge place selling just about everything. With large numbers of beggars loitering around outside. We saw the locals moering one guy with a stick, don't know what he tried to do, and of course we stayed out of it. Five liters of oil costs K25000, R62,50. I was beginning to suspect that this trip could get expensive.

We eventually got out of town, or at least as far as the road block (All Zambian towns have a road block just before you get to town. A good idea, keeps unroadworthy vehicles off the "highways", but...). I was in front, with Manfred and Pim behind me. Police person decides that I should have another mirror on the passenger side, and starts writing out a fine. Manfred does his best to talk the policeman's ears off his head, and succeeds in getting him to drop the fine. But... policeman decides that I have white reflectors in front, while Manfred and Pim don't, starts writing them a fine. Manfred continues with his talking-the-ears-off-a-constable trick, and we succeed in getting away, phew! :-)

The road from Mongu is long, fairly straight and not too bad. It was getting late, we shouldn't have spent so much time in the Shoprite, and the altercation at the roadblock didn't help much. Turned off the main road into the northern part of the Kafue National Park, paid at the gate, and drove on to Lufupa. Met the delightful little creatures known as Tsetse Fly, oh my. Ouch, ouch, ouch. These buggers bite, and bite hard, and they are incredibly hard to kill too.

The last bit of driving towards the camp was in darkness, something which I was getting used to. Got to the camp at 19:15, met Mark and Bruce and Jameson, parked, set up camp. It was dark, and I did not have an idea of the layout of the camp, but we parked where they indicated we should. Heard hippo grunting quite close by... Braaied some meat, Thandi opened a bottle of red wine, went to sleep early.

[WPT 011 -14.615480 26.189464 18-JUN-00 17:16 GMT 19:16 SAST Lufupa]

Monday, 2000-06-19 :

Woke up and noticed that we were parked on the bank of the river. No wonder the hippo sounded so close, they were on the opposite bank, having fun in a hippo fashion.

Lufupa Camp Lufupa Camp Rene, Manfred, Joke Elmari and Spikkels Rene, Thandi, Pim

3 monkeys We had a fairly quiet day, sorting out what we were going to do (decided to stay an extra day at Lufupa and cut a day from Fringilla) and watching the hippo.

Went for a drive around the park in the afternoon.

bokkie birdy

Important: The night drive at Lufupa is excellent. Expensive, but excellent. The driver finds a hungry leopard, and tails it until it catches a buck. Or at least that's what it seemed like. We saw lots of small animals, genet, bushbuck, hippos out of the water, etc. We then spotted a leopard, and followed it around. The leopard didn't seem to be at all bothered by the bakkie following it, but lost the herd it was tailing a few times. Eventually the leopard disappeared into a bushy hill, and John (our driver) went around. When we came around the little hill, there was a herd of impala and a hungry leopard right in front of us. The herd split in two, with one impala not knowing which way to go, snap, leopard had supper.

Unfortunately I had not paid sufficient attention when loading 400ASA film earlier (on the back of the bakkie in the dark), misfed the film, and only realised this when the counter reached 38 back in Botswana. So there's a bit of a gap in my pictures here. I'm still kicking myself...

Tuesday, 2000-06-20 :

Braaied Fish
We spent the day cleaning the Land-Rover, getting a lot of the dust out.

At about 16:00, Pim suddenly remembered that it was his birthday. Congratulations all round.

We took the sunset cruise, amazing. The crew asked if we would mind staying on the boat in the middle of the river for a little longer and drinking some more beer while they fished... what a question :-)

Our neighbor at the campsite is a big fisherman. Apparently he lives in Lusaka and makes the trip to Lufupa twice a month for the fishing. He gave us some fish, bream and baber, which we braaied, not bad. He gave us so much we had to store more than half in Manfred's freezer.

Later the evening we went to the bar to celebrate Pim's birthday. Double tot port, K3500, Mosi K2500. When we walked to the bar we noticed these shapes running around, turned out to be hyenas, in camp. Shudder.

Sunset over the Lufupa

Wednesday, 2000-06-21 : 07:15, and we're ready to roll. Rene left earlier, he likes getting a head start. Pim's batteries (both) were flat, jump started him. Some kind of a problem with the fridge, seems that it sprung a leak, and obviously drained the battery by running all the time. But there's another problem, because Pim disconnected the fridge and the battery still drains.

On the way to the gate we saw sitatunga, blouwildebeeste, puku, kudu, apes, and some quite large crocodiles.

Kafue gate Kafue gate [WPT 017 -14.942887 25.906078 21-JUN-00 08:12 GMT 10:12 SAST Turnoff (gate) to Lufupa]

I didn't mark the turnoff coming in, but here it it coming out. Pim was waiting at the gate, I took the opportunity to add (a lot) of oil to the engine.

Manfred arrived shortly after us, and we were off to Lusaka.

[WPT 018 -15.133211 27.366149 21-JUN-00 11:58 GMT 13:58 SAST Petrol station near Kasula]
14:00. Caught up with Rene and Joke. Rene is not in a good mood, he says that there's no petrol anywhere in Zambia. Or diesel, for that matter. I have about half a tank, Rene about 20l, Manfred has lots, Pim says that he will make Lusaka too. Rene tells us that he's heard that there's only one filling station in Lusaka with petrol. Oh my.

The road from Kafue is good in places and terrible in others. Apparently two construction companies built the road, a few kilometers each. The one company did good work, the other didn't. So you're cruising along at 80, and suddenly the road ahead turns into potholes. I must say, I got quite good at dodging the first few while frantically slowing down.

Lusaka Laager We got to Lusaka at 16:15. I saw a Bureau de Change and pulled in, Pim pulled in next to me and Manfred stopped (double parked) right behind us. A real Laager. I changed R600 into K252 000, who else wants to be a millionare?

[WPT 020 -15.402821 28.279544 21-JUN-00 14:29 GMT 16:29 SAST Mobil in Lusaka]

Found fuel at the Mobil, spent half of the Kwatcha I had just changed on 55 liters of fuel. R5,60/l.

Fringilla camp Repairs Butterfly collection
We drove out to Fringilla farm, which is north of Lusaka. Camped there, met the very nice people. They did not receive our message from Lufupa, but they were not concerned, they're used to travellers on Africa time.

I can't find in in my notes, but from the first pic above it seems as if I had a flat tyre. Rene had shock absorber problems, and removed the left hand front shock.

I noticed that I had quite a nice butterfly collection on the radiator.

We were invited, almost forced, to have supper at the buffet restaurant on the farm. The food was excellent, the wine prices reasonable (we thought it was high, until we saw the shelf prices in Lusaka the next day).

The Maitre d' is a tall John Cleese lookalike -- or maybe more of a cross between John Cleese and Michael Palin. He ran around saying "Don't be shy! Have some more!" -- this became one of our stock phrases for the next few weeks.

Thursday, 2000-06-22 : 09:45. I drove the taxi to Lusaka, with Rene and Joke in the back. Pim and Thandie used their own Land-Rover, they need a new battery. Manfred and Gisela decided to stay at Fringilla. Rene with the shock absorber wrapped in an old T-shirt in his hand.

We found the fridge repair place, and parked both the Land-Rovers there, figuring it would be safer than parking on the street. First stop, as always, a bank so that Pim and Rene can change travellers cheques. Rene walks in, dumps the shock absorber on the counter, signs a travellers cheque and hands it to the cashier. Now remember, this is Lusaka, the locals are sharply dressed, we look like a bunch of refugees. The cashier eyes the cheque and decides to make an example of Rene. To make a long story short, Rene eventually got his money after spending the whole day in the bank, while Pim went across the road to the Barclays where he had no problem at all. Note to self -- get an FNB account before going north again :-)

We decided to have some local fare. Found a cafe serving Beef NShima, Fish NShima, (NShima means "with pap" :-) and lots of Mazoe (local soft drink). This cafe, BTW, is on the western side of Cairo road -- the Lonely Planet describes the western side of Cairo road as the best place in Lusaka to get mugged. I noticed one tug on my wallet, this happened while we were standing still, Elmari was watching what must have been a carefully staged diversion at the time. My tip here would be to keep moving, look as if you know what you're doing, and you shouldn't have problems. In my opinion, Lusaka city centre is as safe, if not safer, as Cape Town city centre.

And while I'm on the topic of comparing Lusaka to Cape Town, the people at Fringilla warned us about the drivers in Lusaka. I found the traffic in Lusaka to be very similar to Cape Town -- drivers cut you off, stop in the middle of the road to pick up passengers, etc, but there was one big difference -- In Lusaka, the drivers are much more friendly. I didn't notice the "road rage" that we get in Cape Town. When I found myself in the wrong lane, I was offered a gap in the traffic with a smile, there's a lot less angry hooting in the streets, etc.

Found an internet cafe, sent mail home, located Rene and Joke, collected the fridge, and went to Manda Hill, a large shopping centre in the upmarket suburbs of Lusaka. I was quite surprised to find the place so easily, since I was navigating by following my nose. Spent a lot of money, as always, managed to pay by VISA.

I later found that a link in the chain I used to lock down the lids of the ammo boxes on the roof had been cut. There was nothing of real value in those boxes (spare parts, the curio we had been buying, some camping stuff, toilet paper) and I think the would-be thief was interrupted before he could open the ammo boxes anyway, but it's pretty obvious that one needs to be extremely careful in Africa.

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