27 November 2010
Distance Covered: 565km
Total Distance: 3909km
Finish: Mama Rula Bed &Breakfast, Chipata, Zambia
This morning we were up and ready (and dry as we had no rain) by just after 7am. Some 100km east of Lusaka we were driving through some beautiful landscapes - winding roads cutting through hills and forests and dropping from 1200m down to 320m crossing the Luangwa river and back up again to the same altitude. The various trees with different stages of their leave formation create a tapestry of colours straight from Van Gogh's paintbrush. We bought our first mangos today as well as watermelon, onion and tomatoes. Fruit and vegetables are in abundance but each region has something of its own, so one has to stop and buy before a certain fruit/veggie don't grow.
Got to Chipata close to the Malawi Border just after 3pm and Andrea from Mama Rula offered us also free rooms (I always book the Italian motor bike tourists which I annually take through Africa at her place).
Food: another lovely stew with cold watermelon for dessert. Life is tough in Africa.
28 November 2010
Distance covered: 134
Total Distance: 4043
Finish: Track And Trail Camp, South Luangwa Park, Zambia
Said good bye to Andrea at Mama Rula and started the 120km trip to South Luangwa National Park. This road is notoriously bad but we did it in 2h30min. Shake, rattle and hum. Amazing bush landscapes again with a number of villages in the middle of nowhere. We got to our camp site just before lunchtime and a lovely setting - right next to the Luangwa River with the park on the other side. From our grounds one can see hundreds of hippos in the water. At the moment not a lot of water but in some 2 months more water will come and then it will be in full flow. We have to walk at night time with a guard between the restaurant and the tent because there are elephant and hippos grazing. Real Africa at last. I am sleeping with my tent on a little platform and from here can watch the nightlife.
Arrived with the realisation that we have problems with the gearbox. Can't get it into 2nd and reverse easily and it grinds like mad. Might be slave or master cylinder but just replaced the slave in Joburg, so will need to replace the rubber seals on the master once we are in Lilongwe. Hopefully it is just that, otherwise the clutch plate (a few days to get this repaired in Africa), or worse the gearbox is faulty. As we stopped, noticed as well that the diff oil was leaking out from the rear wheel. The same one we got fixed in Joburg. Problems for tomorrow. First time to cool off in the magical pool overlooking the hippos in their own pool down below.
Saw the baboons crossing the lawn not far from our tents to their roosting spot. Left the rubber snake in their path and saw a few very funny scenes with baboons leaping through the air and screaming loud. They sat around the snake for some time, but did not venture too close.
29 November 2010
He who laughs last…
At 5am I heard Arina screaming from her tent and as I looked outside I saw that the baboons raided our kitchen and stole the left-over food we left on the roof to cool down from the previous night. It also jumped on the canopy and bent the one folding arms which I could fortunately fix.
At 7am I was at the camp's workshop and the mechanic, Marcel, was kind enough to assist and allow me to use some of his tools. 5 hours later and with the Angel of Luck on our side to find a rubber seal in the middle of the bush to fit the Landie, it was back in one piece. Back to the pool to cool down. Really a beautiful spot.
30 November 2010
Distance Covered: 352km
Total Distance: 4395km
Start: South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Sleep: Mabuyo Camp, Lilongwe, Malawi
At 6am we took to the park and it is really a lovely park. Beautiful trees and enough water to sustain animals like elephant, giraffe, buffalo, puku, leopard, lion, impala etc. We did not see any of the cats but just enjoyed driving through the park. Some roads are covered with black cotton soil and driving through it, cakes the wheels with a sticky mud and one has eventually no traction. Had a few close shaves getting stuck. After some 5 hours of game viewing I told Arina that I believe we should head a day earlier to Malawi so that I have time to get the gearbox issue fixed. We packed and ate and by midday we were heading back with the same corrugated road. Went through the border in a flash and by 6pm we stopped at our camp site. A bit noisy but that is the city life for you. Had pasta and we ate cake to celebrate Arina's sister's birthday.
As the internet connection is very sllllooowwww, I can't upload images as yet.
We are both well and looking forward to get further north. We also appreciate all the little comments and news from everyone back home.