August 4th 2013: Siavonga, Zambia
Driven distance on August 4th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 72’530km (45’070 miles)
Luckily we figured out from another camping guest that the next day is a holiday, the so called farmers day. So it didn’t make sense for us to go to Lusaka already and we spent one relaxing day at the beautiful lake Kariba.
August 5th 2013: Siavonga – Lusaka, Zambia
Driven distance on August 5th 2013: 190km (120 miles)
Driven distance total: 72’720km (45’190 miles)
The road led us again through hilly, forested areas. What is every time fascinating are the so called Baobab trees, which have a high status all over Africa. The trees are standing mostly alone but make a big impression! The trunks of the older trees have a massive diameter and they can get up to 3000 years old! They also sell the oval fruits from the trees along the road. They are supposed to have as much vitamin C as almost no other fruit! Besides those fruits, they also sell wood work, charcoal and alive chickens. Along the way we stopped at the „Chirundu Fossil Forest“. They found here petrified tree trunks up to 3 meter long that are up to 150 million years old. A nice lady from the village led us along the short walking trail. The village itself was almost more interesting for us. We could see how two men worked on a manually driven wood turning machine to produce small wooden bowls. It is always interesting, but also depressing since many live in poverty, to see how the people live in general. The road in direction Lusaka was rather annoying, since we had to drive a good part of it on bumpy tracks due to the overhaul of the actual road. We visited the Hindu temple in Kafue since we already missed a bit the temples of India. We got drawn immediately into the temple vibes already from the smell of the incense sticks :-).
And of course we met some Indians that were interested in what we are doing here. At the end the priest performed a small ritual with us! We continued our journey with a purified karma and a dot on our forehead :-).
August 6th – 7th 2013: Lusaka, Zambia
Driven distance on August 6th – 7th 2013: 60km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 72’780km (45’220 miles)
Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, looked to us as there was quite some money around. Since ages we could stroll around a real shopping mall for hours and fill our bellies with yummy pizzas or spicy Indian food :-). But the main reason for our visit was a different one. We had to organize visas for the following countries; Malawi and Mozambique. Most European country citizens don’t need a visa for Malawi. The Swiss people do, probably because other countries spend more money for foreign aid?! They explained us at the Malawian embassy that we just need a letter and then get the visa at the border. Luckily it wasn’t required to leave the passports there, so we could go directly to the Embassy of Mozambique. There we could finally drop off our applications after we organized all the necessary documents, like a copy of the yellow fewer vaccination certificates. The lady said somewhat bored that we can come again in 5 working days to collect the passports. After some wining and explaining it was just 2 days :-)!
Now just a few words regarding the Eureka campground, where we stayed. Well, there are numerous tour operators who are carrying tourists up and down Africa in overland trucks, each with 10 to 20 people. Believe it or not, they travel from Kenya to South Africa (8 countries) in 6 weeks (The same trip we cover in 6 months :-))! To be able to do so, they often get up at 5AM and start driving at 6. Unfortunately we had such overland trucks beside us for the first two nights and were therefor awaken just after 5. The third day we went to the other corner of the campground, and what happens? Unusually there were two overland trucks arriving and the second one parked again just near us and we had the pleasure to hear them taking the breakfast before 6 again L.
August 8th 2013: Lusaka – Nyamphande, Zambia
Driven distance on August 8th 2013: 160km (100 miles)
Driven distance total: 72’940km (45’320 miles)
First we went to the Malawi embassy to collect the visa letter. Luckily this went very quickly and we could proceed immediately to the embassy of Mozambique. Here they said that we have to come back after noon, so we did our grocery shopping first and went back to get it. After our lunch we spent a lot of time with the internet, getting cash and so on, and started finally to drive at 3PM.
August 9th 2013: Nyamphande – Chipata, Zambia
Driven distance on August 9th 2013: 470km (290 miles)
Driven distance total: 73’410km (45’610 miles)
We continued our journey east towards our destination South Luangwa National Park. The tarred „Great Eastern Road“ was usually quite good, but sometimes were the potholes that big, that it was impossible to maneuver around it! What always drew attention to our eyes were the many brick stone signs from the schools and the churches. At the signs of the churches we were always surprised how many different groups there were always everywhere. We made an overnight stop in Chipata since we had more then enough of the driving after the 470km (290 miles).
August 10th 2013: Chipata – South Luangwa NP, Zambia
Driven distance on August 10th 2013: 150km (90 miles)
Driven distance total: 73’560km (45’710 miles)
We filled up our food stock at the supermarket and the local vegetable market for the next few days that we will spend in the National park. Just in front of the park we established our camp directly at the river from where we could watch nicely the hippos!
August 11th – 13th 2013: South Luangwa NP, Zambia
Driven distance on August 11th – 13th 2013: 220km (140 miles)
Driven distance total: 73’780km (45’840 miles)
2 of the 3 days we spent inside the National Park and one just at the nice campground. We actually find it more exciting to tell you something about the happenings at the campground before we talk about the stories of the park itself! We received the explanation that it is highly advisable to not leave food inside the vehicle, since there are hungry animals strolling around during the night. We figured that we will obey the rule since the animals are elephants :-). According to our camp neighbors was an elephant wandering around in the second night, just between the bushes and our Landrover. This means in other words, that he touched simultaneously the bush and the car and his head was about 10cm (4 inches) away from our bed :-). The sad part about it is, that we deeply slept during this event L . The next night we heard a hippo mowing lawn less than 10m (30 feet) away from us.
In the park itself, we also could spot quite some animals; elephants, different types of antelopes, zebras, giraffes, hippos, colorful birds, eagles, and so on… The highlight anyway was the sighting of a leopard. It was just before sunset when the raptor sneaked around 5 meters (16 feet) away from us in a ditch. He tried to get closer to a herd of antelopes, fantastic moment :-)! Unfortunately we just had to leave, since the park closes it’s gate at 6PM.
The park was in terms of animals not bad, and the landscape was fantastic! But all in all we didn’t like as much as some of the other parks. First you have to watch out that no lion is biting you in your but ;-) (no picnic spots or toilets) and second we almost always were driving around and sitting in the car since there are no water holes where the animals are gathering. They are often spread out along the riverbed.
August 14th 2013: South Luangwa NP – Chipata, Zambia
Driven distance on August 14th 2013: 150km (90 miles)
Driven distance total: 73’930km (45’940 miles)
On our way back to Chipata we made a short stop at a textile factory that produces magnificent batik items. We could watch the different manufacturing steps and of course there were many things for sale at the end. Also we continued the trip with a few more souvenirs in our luggage :-). For lunch we usually stop at a quiet place to eat our sandwiches, since there are normally no restaurants in the smaller villages. The spot we chose today was at the beginning of a very steep descent. Pretty soon we got company from a truck where the driver tried to repair something. First he asked us for some plastic. Of course we got somewhat curious and Stefan went to check out the things for himself. We figured out that the breaks don’t work at all anymore. The compressor pipe had a leak! The driver tried to repair it with an old bicycle tire hose and our piece of plastic... Stefan tried to help out with some tools and hose clamps. Somewhat annoying was also the fact, that the engine of the truck was running constantly since it didn’t have any battery... Unfortunately we weren’t able to help either and had to leave the poor driver with his broken truck. Near the villages are always many people on foot or on bicycles and many animals (goats, cows and chickens) on the road. A very persisting and typical picture are always the women with their loads on their heads and a child on their back.
August 15th 2013: Chipata, Zambia – Lilongwe, Malawi
Driven distance on August 15th 2013: 140km (90 miles)
Driven distance total: 74’070km (46’020 miles)
In the morning we also changed some money at the black market on the street! Zambia Kwacha versus Malawi Kwacha. This works out quite good with the right portion of caution and common suspicion :-). At least like this you get a bit better exchange rate and the guys are earning some money by changing back and forth the currencies. Since there is usually one person staying in the car while the other is doing the shopping, I (Stefan) had some time to chat a bit longer with the money changing guys. With the money changing business they earn in average 100 US$ per month. A small little house costs about 50$ rent a month and the rest should be sufficient for food! Incredible!
Well, but now it was time to get to the border to enter Malawi. The border crossing wasn’t as easy as we previously experienced it in Africa. The officer at the entry point to Malawi said, that we have to come with him to the back into the actual office. They explained us, that the visa costs 70$ and the processing fee another 30$, so 200$ all together. The prices were according to a list correct. We got the following answer after we requested a receipt for the money: „NO, another officer took the receipt book with him, is at a meeting 200 miles away and is coming back tomorrow“! Multiple times we argued heavily with 200$ on the table for a receipt and several times the female officer threw the passports back to us and said that we could go back to Zambia. So finally we took a piece of paper, started to write our own receipt and asked them to officially stamp that receipt! All of a sudden they made a phone call, a receipt number was entered on the visa and the self made receipt got stamped. But suddenly we had to change the mentioned amount from 200$ to 140$ and we also had to pay only this amount :-)! Besides us were another 3 bored officers entertained by watching movies in the TV :-).
After we got a car insurance for one month, we drove towards the capital and stayed 20km outside of the city.