By Landy Les
I’ve named our trip so because of the events that happened in Zambia,the one side being the beauty of Africa and its people and the other side of Africa when things go wrong. Firstly our planned trip was from Greyton to Zambia via Mauasehebe,ghanzi,chobe,ngoma bridge,Katima Mulilo.Liuwa plains,north and south Kafue ,mulobezi back to Katima and back home via the caprivi strip and through Nambia, west coast and home.I’ll skip the botswana leg of the trip because most people want to know about Zambia.(that said we had the most amazing encounter with a pride of lions in Mabua that would be hard to beat)
Before we started I was always nervy about the border crossings and police checks.So as when we can we always head for smaller crossing points,so we chose Katima and all our fears were totally misplaced it was a crossing that everyone should make .At first when you enter into Zambia and you pull into the compound on the left which was full of people it is overwhelming but then you realise nobody is interested in you they are just going about their own business, so now you are relaxed you enter the only official looking building there and you go to Immigration you pay for visa $50 (no charge for our little Ollie despite him having a passport) then one of the third party agents leads you to his hut and you pay for this in rands or dollar R150 we paid,he then escorts you to the customs where you receive your import permit and carbon tax again payable in rand R130,they then point you to the road levy caravan where you pay $20 and finally to the local levy in a caravan that is in an unbelieveable state and you pay your R50.The whole process took perhaps 30 minutes everybody was extremely helpful and it was an experience I will never forget it was so comical.
Ltezhi Tezhi dam
The drive up to Kabula Lodge was bumby and rough but no real problem and after over 3200 kms and the setting at Kabula we camped there for 3 nights and was heaven Tiger fishing on the Zambezi was pure bliss. Our intention was then to go up the left side of the Zambezi to Kalabo but we meet Patrick from Wild dogs and he advised us to go via MOngu.The drive from Kalabu to mongu is easily done in a day including a stop of at Ngonye falls(where we wern’t given the full tour so we missed the best part apparently you should insist on a mokoro crossing to the island to get the best view) THE ferry crossing cost $20 and this is followed by a very rough section for 23 kms until you hit tarmac all the way to Mongu.We took a hotel but there is a good campsite in Mongu.
Hippos on the Zambezi at Kalabu Lodge
Oliver on the Zambezi at K.L
Oliver at K.L. with 3kg tiger fish
Hyena at Liuwa
wilderbeest on the Liuwa plain
Next day we took on the b arotsee plain and with the ferry it took us 3 hours to reach Kalabo ,this section to drive was rough but very enjoyable and before we entered Liuwa plains we had 2 more ferries to use one $20 the other 40,000 kwacha but all with no problems just friendly people and smiling kids.We stayed 3 days on the plains and had the whole park to ourselves we had several good sightins of hyena and the large herds of wildebeest were already arriving from the north.We stayed at Katayana camp in the n.e and would recommend this to anybody going at this time of year as in the south was very little to see.
Oliver with village kids on the edge of the Liuwa plains
To leave the park you either go back the way you came or you can do the same as us and exit north and head for Lukulu.This is a hard route and it needed help ffom villagers to show us the way.It took alot longer than expected 4 hours in all and we arrived at the pontoon at Lukulu at 6 o’clock on a saturday night and no pontoon!!! So faced with 2 nights camping wild we sought help from the locals and as usual they came up trumps .The ferryman arrived and after much batering (he insisted on overtime ) but given that we hadn’t much choice we paid over R250 to get our 2 landies over,and to be honest we were very grateful spending a weekend on the wrong side of the river was not an exciting thought.
However the crossing was slow and we were now well into darkness and one of our golden rules has always been no driving in the dark in Africa,but as most places on a saturday night staying in Lukulu was not an option (too many drunks etc.) So we pushed on and of course this is when Africa showed its darker side.( I’ll finish this report to- morrow as we are having a landy reunion and I’m already late)
pontoon to Lukulu
Pushing on to Kafue late saturday night a stupid thing to do I know is when we had a very scary incident with adrunk and an on coming speeding petrol tanker and trailer,I shall spare you all the gory details but we survived only by the grace of god or lady luck which ever you prefer(and a little bit of experience on my part)we were so close to a head on with the tanker it ripedthe branch deflectors from the landy!!
The whole incident left us all badly shaken (caroline,my son Oliver and our friends granddaughter were all asleep at the time),our only’crime’ was to have driven in the dark and we very nearly paid for it with all our lives,most of the oncoming cars and lorries had either one light or full beam it was an absoulute nightmare.It was at this point we changed our plans and decided not to go to northern Kafue and meet up with Thirstie and Mike from England and head south.We travelled down to Kaingu Lodge and we could have stayed there for a week it is absolutely heavenly it is a must for all overlanders going through Zambia and full credit to Tom and the rest of his team for a wonderful stay, you can camp or lord it up it is just divine,unfortunately I couldn’t settle until I’d crossed the border so on we went.
A comfortable drive down passed the Itezhi Tezhi dam which is amazing and on to the Nanzhila plains camp and again a wonderful stay.Again because I still couldn’t settle with decided not to go to livingstone but exit the plains via Mulobezi a rough road with deep sand and unforgiving trees that trashed our vehicles (so don’t go if you value your paint job) but no real problem at all. We exited at Katima again and again the whole process was extremely friendly and took about 20 minutes. We pushed on to Ngepi having paid yet another entry tax at R180 into Nambia there are no multipul entries youpay every time.
road along the west side of the Zambezi to K.L
road along the west side of the Zambezi to K.L
Ngepi was great even though when we first arrived there were hoades of people something we were not used too,its lively,quirky and even though it has alot of visitors you have your own camp space by the river and a tour of the ablutions is a must. By this time Ihad now come round and had time to reflect on what had happened, it wasn’t Zambias fault or my fault it was just a stark reminder of what can happen on our travels it hasn’t put me off Zambia, the country is just too beautiful and its people so friendly we had quite alot of inter action with the locals and for the vast majority of the time they wanted nothing they were just genuinely pleased to see travellers (we had one occasion on liuwa when we were lost and a young woman offered to show us the way, we of course with our western mind set said we hadn’t room and the girl simply just carried on her way with her shopping bag on one arm her baby on her other and 20kgs of flour on her head, we of course felt like complete arses and drove after her and gave her a lift and she showed us the way.
Mongu -Kalabo road across the Barotse plain
exiting Liuwa from the north
exiting Liuwa from the north
Mud in Moremi
On arrival at her village the only thing she asked for was had Caroline anything for her sick baby who had sickness and diarrhea.It was A very humbling experience and not the only one we had).We are already making plans to return and spending alot more time there,yes it can be a little more expensive than Bots or nam but it is more than worth it as the hoades stay away and you virtually have the place to yourselves.One thing we will probably do is fly the women to livingstone and the men drive up there as soon as poss to spend the most of the time there as it is almost 3000 km from w/cape before your holiday starts.So if you’re thinking about Zambia then do it you won’t regret it and once again apoligies to Mike and Thirstie for not keeping our rendevous . LES
wild dog in the g.m.a. on the road to Kaingu by kafue
This report was published with the permission of Les from Greyton