Lake Kariba …….

Day 31 –

S: We are sitting in front of our fire in our campsite, listening to the sound of the waves washing on to the beach at Eagle’s Rest Resort on Lake Kariba next to Siavonga.

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We had left the Moorings this morning and headed north-east on the T1. The road was quite good until Mazabuka. We popped in to the Spar to pick up some breakfast and snacks. After Mazabuka, the road deteriorated and we had to dodge occasional potholes and the traffic in the form of trucks, increased. Passing was extremely difficult as the road was very bumpy so much so that we ended up sitting behind the same truck for about 40 kms. We were in no hurry though and cruised along at 80 – 90 kms/hour.

When we approached towns, we also had many bicycles along the side of the road carrying coal to be sold in town. Also huge pieces of wood, strapped horizontally across the back of the bicycle jutting in to the road. L: And at one point, a goat tied on to the back bicycle rack by its feet, poor thing.

S: When we got to the T2 junction we turned right towards the Zimbabwean border onto a really good tar road. It ended after a few kilometers when we were subjected to detours as the new road was still being built. It seems the Chinese have their hands in this one as well as we saw some oriental people seemingly supervising the construction.

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After the detours, this stretch of road seemed to be the longest pass that we have ever travelled.
Sharing it with the many trucks, it was a bit disconcerting following one truck and having another barreling down behind you L: hoping that his brakes are working, S: especially when you see the debris of many accidents littering the side of the road.

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This is a scary sight when you are coming around the corner from the other side.

To make it worse, the road markings are very I distinct so you do not really know when the road is two-lane or one-lane. We were quite amused when we saw the truck-escape track on the long downhill which seemed incredibly short and looked more like a aircraft-carrier launch ramp than a gravel patch that would stop a truck with no brakes.

It was a bit of a relief to turn off to Siavonga and escape the trucks, onto a bit of a quiter road……

It seems that one of the main industries around here is charcoal production as there are locals selling charcoal in huge bags all along the roads. It would seem that our nights of having wood camp-fires seem to be over as we burn the last of the firewood that we have been carrying.

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L: While Steve was driving, I had the pleasure of watching the approaching dam for miles. It is huge and really impressive.

S: Along the road to Siavonga, there are things being sold along the road that we had not seen up to now, large pieces of flat stone used for paving and a lot of woven baskets. Another industry which I remember seeing when I was in Lusaka more than 16 years ago was the breaking up of huge rocks, with a hammer, into smaller stones which are sold at the side of the road. At the time I thought it must be one of the worst jobs around and today I saw that it is still done here. The inside floor of the ablutions at Eagle’s Rest are unusual in that they have paths made out of the flat stone with the edges filled in with these small stones.

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We drove around trying to find a campsite in the Siavonga area of Kariba dam. We had researched and knew that there was one at Eagle’s Rest and after asking around, it seems that it is the only one to camp at.

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The campsites are on a point and we managed to find one, sheltered from the wind which had been blowing ever since we left the Moorings this morning.

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L: We had some lunch at the shore-side restaurant which was a very respectable burger and chips with a drink, but realised after converting that the drinks had been way more expensive than usual. We then caught up on the blog and our many photos, but even after going back up the hill, we could not pick up any signal on MTN to post – sorry guys…….

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We met a lady, Faye, back at camp who is here for the weekend from Lusaka and she told us that she was last here in 1971 when she arrived from the U.K. Zambia has been her home ever since. It shows how old this campsite is and it is feeling its age. It is very basic with a lot of “beware” signs for hippos and crocodiles (or as they say crocdiles……I wonder what happened to the o).

Today, we sent a message to David and Ruth, our friends who are celebrating their 50th anniversary back home and were really surprised to learn from Ruth that we are so close to her hometown of Chingola in Zambia on the Copperbelt.

We had a lovely little Brown-Hooded Kingfisher posing for us above our campsite until a real “chug-chug” fishing boat, that is drifting because of the strong wind (and their not-so-powerful motor) chased it off with all that racket!

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S: Looking across the lake reminds us of home, sitting at Fish Hoek beach looking out to False Bay to the Hottentot mountains at Gordon’s Bay.

Day 32 –

L: Noooooooo, no water in the bathrooms this morning. 280kms long and 32kms at its widest point and the bathroom is bone dry, ironic….?

The rooftop tent was warm and cosy last night, lovely to be able to throw the blankets off and no mosquitos even though we were on the water, great.

So this is how it goes at campsites in Namibia and Zambia, most times – take your pick of a shower and turn on the first tap for 5 minutes……..no, that must be the cold tap. Now turn the other one on for 5 minutes, brrrrrrr. Ok, there is no choice, pick the one that doesn’t automatically freeze your fingers, now for the little dance, put your face in, then out, feet in, out, now shampoo on dry hair, duck in under the tap, scrub and out. Keep the wet hair from running down your back. Oh my word, it is chilly, but I am clean. Towel off vigorously while jumping around to get warm (I forgot to mention, there is no door to the bathroom and no glass in the windows – only shade cloth).

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Flowers for my wife

Now to find the guy who cleans and maintains the bathroom……”There is no hot water in the shower.” He replies “Are you sure?”. Grrrrrrrrrr. You do not ask a woman who has just had a freezing shower, if she is sure!!! As I walk away, he says – “There is hot water in the men’s bathroom”. :-((((

Later, when Steve went, he also had a cold shower! The taps were mixed up and he didn’t think to try the other one, ouch.

Steve made us a lovely cooked breakfast and hot coffee so that improved my mood and now, the wind was blowing, had been all night, so my hair dried and I thawed out, ha ha. S: No. What really improved her mood was the large Green Pigeon in the tree above and Pied Kingfishers that was skimming over the water.

S: We drove the 8kms to the dam wall and got the mandatory slip of paper (while they retained our passports) to drive to the parking area at the wall and then walk along the wall and across to the Zimbabwe side of the dam. We were told not to take photos of certain structures that are state-secrets..? The dam is so big and awesome to think that the wall is holding back so many kilometers of water.

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On our walk back to the car a whole group of students from the Kwame Nkrumah University, biology students studying the flora around the dam were hopping up and down so excited to see us and all insisted on posing for photos with us. It was freaky, but we have had a similar experience when a bunch of matrics from Keetmanshoop wanted pics with Lesley on a previous trip – this time, I was included.

We had decided after no water, no hot showers and a lot of wind to leave Kariba dam and head for Lusaka a day earlier. It was back over that pass and having to dodge and concentrate with a lot of trucks and scores of taxies on the road. Lesley was crocheting, but she still sees things and warns me so that we have two sets of eyes on the road. On the way in to Lusaka, at a crossroads, there were road works and we were told we would have a 5 minute wait for the oncoming traffic, but 25 minutes later, we finally got moving and this is when the craziness starts with all the taxis passing on any side they can and trucks overtaking other trucks on blind rises. Another strange thing is to see all the wrecked cars left on the corners where they have had an accident or burnt out as they clearly don’t go to the trouble of removing the carcasses.

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There seems to be a practice of burning grass verges.

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Traffic sharing the road being constructed. – Must be the Chinese way.

We finally made it in to the town of Lusaka and even though it was already Saturday after 2pm there was still so much activity in town. The three lanes of constant traffic jam and the cars reversing out of parking places into the traffic with hawkers everywhere alongside the road and on foot, weaving in and out of the traffic is an onslaught to the senses. And, all the while, we remind ourselves that throughout Africa, this will probably get worse. We keep an eye on the back of the bakkie, via the reverse camera in case anyone tries to tamper with the boot or roof rack when we are not moving, stuck in the traffic jams. Phew.

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Electrics Zambian style

L: Dave, who we had met at the Moorings, had confirmed my research, that the only place that he would trust to camp was Pioneer Safari Lodge, another 20kms out of Lusaka, so it was off on another beaten track as bad as Lochinvar’s roads to find it.

It is like an oasis in the wilderness with a complimentary cup of coffee or tea on arrival, clean bathrooms and a bit of grass and a lovely lounge/bar area. So welcoming after the long drive, thanks Precious, the receptionist.

We met a couple, who are from Wellington in the Cape, who are travelling for 3 months and after chatting for a while, settled in. Steve set up the ground tent while I made Vegetable Curry Lentils and Basmati Rice for supper and a nice warm drink.

We finally had signal so Steve quickly sent off 2 days of the blog and we touched base with the girls. We must mention, we let the girls know where we are as often as possible and then Elana, our niece, puts up a map of our day’s progress onto Facebook for our family and friends to see where we are, thanks so much, Elana – your hard work is so appreciated. Xxx

S: It is much colder here as we sit with our last warm drink tonight, so it is back to full track suit, socks and those extra blankets……….

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4 thoughts on “Lake Kariba …….

  1. Walter Blakeway

    Thanks so much for the INCREDIBLY regular and really interesting updates. I (for one) really appreciate hearing of all your adventures up North. You two write such flowing, easy-to-read and witty narratives that I think you missed your respective callings as journalists 🙂 May the rest of your roads be as smooth as the N7 – otherwise, just enjoy the rollercoaster ride.

    Cheers for now

    Walter.

  2. Welcome more and more to the real Africa awaiting you guys:-) Hot water or even water running out of taps will become scarser and scarser the more you drive north. You are still driving very fast…our average speed over 30000km through Africa was 27.5km :-):-):-).

    Malawi is not a problem to enter and you do not even need to tell them all the places you are going to visit. Just give them a campsite name. We presume you are on your way to Llilongwe? The Llilongwe sports club has a campsite.

    Enjoy your trip….it is cold and wet in Stellenbosch:'(

    Kind regards,
    Arno & Elize

    • Hi Arno and Elize Thanks :-)). Yes, we are expecting little or no water in deepest Africa, but did not expect it quite so soon. A lot of the time, it is just laziness…….the staff cannot be bothered to clean up or stoke the donkey or switch on the power. The outages can be forgiven.

      Thanks for the advice re Malawi. Do you know if we can take fuel into Malawi? Yes, we are managing to do quite the “record speed” of 55 kms/hour, but realise that there will be worse to come. Keep warm in Cape Town.

      Cheers Steve and Lesley 🙂 ))) On 9 Jun 2014 15:03, “Cape to Cairo to London” wrote:

      >

      • Hi Lesley and Steve, we had no problem bringing fuel into Malawi when coming south. We went through a very obscure border post between Mozambique and Malawi going north and had no problems with fuel….they wanted some other sort of fuel…;-) We never paid a single bribe ever!

        Enjoy:-)

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