Thursday, 19 May 2016

Zambia 3

I was hoping that this post would be all about the amazing animals we saw in South Luangwa National Park.. This will happen later on but currently the car has decided we have had too much fun, and too few problems and thrown a teenage tantrum (being 20 years old I would have thought we would be well past that by now). So the first half has been taken up by the car, but hopefully it has enough attention now and will behave..!

We arrived at Pioneer camp glad we had gotten there without more issues (I think I wrote this last blog), Charles went back out and came back a happy(ish) boy.. He had found a shop called Builders Warehouse - a bit like home base and halfords had a baby and then beefed up at the gym. It sold all the tools we needed, plus engine cleaners etc. Basically a mans dream shop.. By the time he was back it was too late to start anything and getting dark - it gets dark around 6pm here which makes things difficult, we ultimately cook in the dark and sit in the dark from that point onwards! After a lazy start the next morning Charles set about taking the engine apart to try and diagnose the problem. Without Rob guiding him he was feeling the pressure but he worked methodically and felt he had worked out the problem.. A leaking fuel pump! With a cleaner engine, but an oily Charles, he put the parts back together by 4pm. The plan being to wake up early the next morning and try to find the part we needed.. We had been on FaceTime to Gill and Roger when some locals overheard us. They gave us a number of a guy they use who sells and stocks parts for landrovers! Local knowledge was good this time!

Up and packed (tent down then up again because we left the satnav up there.. We will never learn!), we headed off to Lusaka.. Again! Considering we didn't really want to go there we had now spent a lot of time! First port of call Builders Warehouse.. I could see why Charles was so impressed.. Finally, one place where you could buy all the rubbish you need .. It was like a huge man drawer! We managed to get the things we needed from our shopping list (staying focused on the shopping list was hard) and went to the mechanic recommended by Paul at Pioneer Camp. He could not help us but pointed us on towards the Landrover dealer.. They also couldn't help us so they pointed us onto another Landrover dealer.. After some conversation they said the part would be 58000kwz.. We were stunned, divide it by 13 to get the pound and it was astronomical! There was no way we were paying that for a part that costs about £15 in the UK! We politely declined and headed to Rightway Autoparts who luckily had the fuel pump.. 600kwz later (still expensive but Zambia's import prices are rediculous) and we had a part. I think the first quote for for a brand new engine.. maybe fuel pump for engine was lost in translation..! Feeling rather smug we stopped off at Manda Hill Mall and had a Mugg and Bean.. Charles has been raving about this place since I met him.. Basically a Costa! They have unlimited coffee, and huge muffins which tasted amazing! 

The smuggness soon wore off as we arrived back at Pioneer Camp and Charles went to open the part.. Sadly it was not sold with the olives (copper rings) needed to fit the part.. Obviously! Rather annoyed we headed back to Lusaka to find some.. It turned out there was none.. The guy who we bought the part off didn't have any either! Useful! Back to the campsite (the trip being 40km round trip), and we found out that Dave and Rob2 were also in Lusaka. Their car had been put onto a tow truck because it was also broken down... Our predicament could have been worse! Charles set about trying to hammer off the old olives gently and fit them onto the new part.. Easier said than done in the growing darkness. We tried heating and making larger, filing them.. All sorts of things and finally they fit. One got split but in true plumbers style, ptfe tape was applied liberally! Charles worked like a trooper under the careful supervision of myself.. Haha! Dinner of sausage pasta created an interlude, and by 8.30pm Chalres closed the bonnet. "I'll started it in the morning", he said.

Next morning came around.. A beautiful crisp, sunny morning! Just the time to start a dirty great Landrover with smoke bellowing out! Anyway .. The smoke came out black, and then white.. Fuel cleaner went into the tank, Charles cleaned the exhaust and attempt number two was made! There was still some smoke issues but by 11.30 we had decided to take it for a drive and find a change of scenery. We had loved Pioneers Camp, the owners were lovely, the wifi good and the bar well stocked, but we just needed to be closer to the city in case things went wrong again.  We drove into Lusaka (again), and stopped off at Wanderes Backpackers and Campsite, at $5 per night it was perfect for one night in the centre of Lusaka and meant we could walk to immigration. With time ticking on our via (it ran out on the 17.05.16) we wanted to try and get another 30 days so we could still do everything we wanted to do pre car troubles. We arrived at immigration at 1.30 and they were in lunch till 2pm.. We decided to wait around for half an hour, and as we waited the crowds got bigger. There was a queue of sorts, we were at the front, and others just came and stood behind us.. The queue began to snake around the building. However as the time ticked on to opening hours people just stormed in.. I think my rather loud comment of 'it's funny how people don't queue even when there is one' fell on deaf ears but it is one thing that really annoys me. The poor lady who had arrived 2 minutes after us ended up at the back of a long line of people.. Rudeness really gets to me, especially please and thank you (true teacher style), which across this trip I have noticed a lack of.. Not just locals but tourists as well! I digress.. We got in and spoke to the receptionist, 'Oh no, not here', she said, 'here is the address you need to go to for tourist visas'. Why they couldn't have it in the same building I don't know. Anyway 3.9km later and we arrived, went up the stairs and spoke to a very lovely lady. She started stamping our passports and Charles and I are looked,at each other thinking we haven't asked the price and she is stamping away.. I quickly asked how much it was and she replied free, but you can pay if you like! Finally something in Zambia that is free and not overpriced! Charles and I felt like we had beaten the system and headed back to the camp site elated. The site was nice, free wifi and electricity, we started chatting to a couple who were doing the south in a Bushlore car (6 months was cheaper than kitting and shipping over a car, as well as buying a Carnet from the ADC in Germany who wanted a €5000 deposite, what a way to put off travellers!). They had heard things about the situation in Mozambique so it was good to chat.. We shall keep up to date on that! 

We left the next morning, after Charles had been given a catapult by Kevin, a South African working in Lusaka. Charles was very pleased and was looking forward to aiming at monkies later..!  We set off towards Bridge Camp, a half way point between Lusaka and Chipata. The site was nice, basic but the owners were friendly. The site got slowly more busy as the night went on. Despite being woken up early by the overland bus singing happy birthday, we were ready to keep on driving after chatting to a Spanish couple who had done the East Coast. They too had wanted to go to Mozambique but when they got to the border they were advised not to. Fingers crossed things will improve in the next few months. We arrived in Chipata, another town, stayed at Mama Rula's camp site and prepared to head into the national park the next day.

We set off at a leisurely pace arriving at Wildlife camp by 1pm, we were not disappointed - it was situated just outside the national park so we didn't have to pay park fees to stay there.The camp sites were well equipped, overlooking the river full of hippos, there must have been about 50 of them including some with babies. There was also crocodiles, Impala, puku and wart hogs. We met an American couple Robert and Lara who had been at the site numerous times, and we were soon shouting over to their pitch the different animals we were seeing during our sundowner drink. Just as the sun set red across the sky an elephant walked across the river and started having a bath, it was just magical! We struck gold and this was before we had even got into the park! Park fees here are quite expensive so we could only justify one of the three days in there, along with a night drive. We spent the first day relaxing, doing exercise, washing and watching the animals, the highlight being a journey of 17 giraffes coming to the river, then the second day got up early to head into the park.

We were at the gate by 6am and raring to go! The park is huge and we had to be back at camp by 3pm to be in time for our night drive. We drove a couple of different loops, a river trail and then a more open plain, and saw loads of Impala, puku, zebra, elephants, water Buck, bush Buck, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles including babies of all! We saw some fantastic birds also, the lilac crested roller, oxtails, bee eaters, along with the Eagles, the fish eagle, batalear eagle and martial eagle - it was great to have a hard copy of a bird book, we had been using iBooks before and it isn't as quick or comprehensive! Tsetse flies were also out, luckily not as many as in Kafue! As it got hotter we abandoned hope of seeing much else, I was desperate to see a lion but didn't hold my breath. We drove for a while towards the southern boundary, seeing lots of animal shading themselves from the sun, the water on the southern side was more scarce but there was little apart from the normal around the watering holes. We stopped for lunch, pre-made sandwiches in the car and heard something like a motor bike engine. Very strange as they aren't allowed in the park but we thought it may have been across the river - sound travels far here! We left our lunch spot and decided to finish the loop we were doing, suddenly in the clearing a spotted a lioness.. Charles slowed down the car to a halt and behind her came a male, Wow! Their sheer size and grace was breath taking.. They wandered around for a bit then went to lay under a tree.. Well this was not before they had some fun time together.. Actually three times! We felt a bit like we were intruding! After all the excitement they both fell asleep under the tree, we had managed to watch them for about 40 minutes! I felt incredibly lucky! It was now 2.30pm we we rushed back to the camp site to get ready for our night drive.

Sundowner drinks ordered, we sped off at high speed to get back to the southern boundary where Charles and I had been in the day. I did worry that we were going back to the lions we had seen earlier - not that I would have minded too much, just when you are paying someone else to guide you it is nice to see something other that what you can see by yourself! We had told the gatekeeper and shown him on a map where we had seen the lions so it was plausible we were headed there. I was wrong, through the grass we bumped and stumbled across 5 female lions just relaxing.. More lions! I had gone from seeing none to seeing loads! They were so docile (!?) and we happy with the car being about 5m away! We inched away slowly and carried on, within 100m of the lions a leopard was chilling in a tree, it again was not phased and we sat watching this majestic creature for at least 10 minutes. It must have got slightly fed up, so it got down and walked straight past the car.. Another wow we are lucky moment. We watched the sun go down over the imaplas, and we were soon back in the car. Darkness fell and it was down to the spotter with his flashlight to find us some nocturnal animals.. We were lucky enough to to see the leopard again, and then also a genet and African Civet. We weren't able to see a bush baby however we felt very lucky to have seen what we did see, it is the luck of the draw sometimes! 14 hours in the park had knackered us out, it was left of poetji (stew) from the previous night and we were fast asleep in minutes! 

(Sunset across the river)

(Poetji and roasted squash seeds)


Our last night was spent in Crocodile Camp, another site along the river. It was similar to Wildlife Camp just with free wifi and with different quirks! We plan to cross the border into Malawi tomorrow at Chipata and spend some time in Lilongwe! 

I have truly loved Zambia, even if at times I have felt like screaming and kicking at the car! The country is beautiful, the people so friendly and knowledgable about their surrounding environment. We have seen some awesom things; the Vic falls, lions, leopards and of course hippos! We have donethings we wouldn't normally do; microliting, bungee jumping and some beautiful boat trips. Yes, Zambia was expensive, I think I have written this before - it is for us the most expensive African country we have visited so far (a lot has gone on car parts, with out having bought those it would have been under budget), however it is also one of the countries we have lived a more UK lifestyle.. If you shop in Shoprite it is bound to be expensive, eat meat every meal, drink alcohol frequently, or buy chocolate and crisps it will add up. Shoprite in Nigeria was expensive and also Benin but we were still buying local, something we had forgotten about at the beginning of the country. Buying local veg, to supplement the meat, and is cheap, as cheap as Burkina Faso.. So it can be done cheaply! Zambia is as expensive as you make it living day to day wise. The tourist attractions are also expensive, but the name gives it away, tourists are willing to pay, so they stay the same or go up. I guess you make that toss up of wanting to do it over price.. Charles and I have reached the point where if we want to do something we are going to do it.. We won't have that chance again and I don't want to regret it in 20 years time. I would definitely love to visit Zambia again and do the North Road, we were planning to do this but ran out of time and then accessibility (the road network is not so good here!). It has been a country of firsts and one I will not forget but recommend to others.. 

Charles and I were chatting about the things in Zambia.. Mainly the things we have done for the first time  Here goes! 

Longest country we have stayed in
First time we have been given a free extension on our visa
Most times we have blown the weekly budget (car parts to thank..)
First time we have returned to a campsite (4 campsites returned to!)
First time we have returned to the capital
First time I have bungee jumped (Cat)
First microlite 
Most times on a boat!
First time we have travelled with family
Longest time on our own
First time staying in a backpackers
First time using the electricity to power the fridge
Most hippos seen
First Mugg and Bean
First time fixing the car without Rob (major fix)
First night drive in a national park
Most Overland busses seen!
Charles thinks we have covered the most amount of miles 
First time caught speeding (no fine!)
First time we had to renew our insurance
Most amount of tsetse flies
Most Mosi beers drunk (and Savanna cider also!)
Mort braais had
First lion, and first lion hanky panky for us both 

#africa #overlanding #travelling #thisisafrica #zambia #southluwangwa #safari #leopard