Thursday, 22 September 2011

Across North Luamba to Mafue

We reluctantly left the Hot Springs, filled up with diesel from plastic cans at the side of the road and set off with some trepidation for North Luamba park We had agonised for ages whether to risk this route as it included a descent down a steep escarpment and a pontoon river crossing. It all started fine we got into the park and were told that the road had just been graded, we got down the escarpment OK passing through dense forest with a few low branches to be sawn off. Progress was slow brut we eventually reached Buffalo Camp, a collection of grass huts on the side of the river.

Next morning Chris, Thomas and myself went on a Game Walk which was quite tame until we stumbled on a lioness and 2 cubs eating last nights kill.We then set off for the pontoon. Another slow drive got us there to find that the truck had to ford the river and the pontoon woul not take the Landie and the trailer at the same time. The landy got across OK after getting stuck in deep sand, then the traile was manhandled onto the pontoon and crossed OK. Next was the truck at this stage Thomas Florence and myself were spectators on the other side of the river. The truck set off across the soft sand and promptly got stuck, bitr of digging got it going again and then it stuck again. At this point 3 of the locals set off to wade across the river about 10 metres from a group of about 10 hippos. However both they and the truck eventually crossed safely. We spent the night in a camp at the side of the river surrounded by elephants and hippos.

Another long days drive averaging about 20k an hour got us to Luamba National Park. The camp we stayed in boasted the largest concentration of hippos in Africa, about 300 just in front of the campsite, needless to say it was not a peaceful night.

Our 4th day of off road driving proved to be the most difficult. This time the landy and trailer got stuck twice but both times were towed out by the truck. The previous 3 days had been through mainly dense bush with no villages but now we were out of the park and we passed more and more villages. Some of the villages were so poor it was unbelievable. The children were in rags and under nourished and the village would have nothing but straw huts, sometimes a borehole but often nothing but river water to drink. There seemed to be very few possessions such as bicycles or motorbikes. As we got near Mafue the villages became larger and more affluent presumably because they had access to the town to sell their produce.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Shiwanandu House

We have made it to Africa House and are camping at the hot springs. We spent the morning at the Deaf School in Mpika. They were very grateful for everyone's contributions and having walked around the site they definitely needed some help. The money raised will be going towards building a kitchen to feed the children but they are also in desperate need of repairs to their bore hole. At the Moment they have to rely on the municipal supply which is switched off most off the time. Everyone there was really welcoming and the children very happy. The charity in Chipenbele is our next stop. We hope to reach there in the next couple of days.

Buying sweets

The children buying sweets outside the kings palace in Mongu

Monday, 12 September 2011

Senaga to Mongu

After a night in Senanga we set off for Mongu enroute to Kafue wildlife reserve. However it was not ot be. After 30k the truck broke down with a leaky water pump. Mandy and I went back to Senanga to try to arrange a tow but it was not to be. So we left Sarah and Chris to look after the truck and went on to Mongu. In Mongu Mandy accosted a well dressed Zambian who turned out to be driver to the king of the Western Region (Barotseland), more of the king later. We were introduced to Moses a brilliant mechanic who first found us a hotel to stay in and then took me on a trip around town to fix the pump. However being Sunday we didn't have much luck. Eventually I set off to rescue Sarah and Chris, we limped the truck to a nearby village and left it in the tender care of the villagers. Next day we embarked on another useless search for spares but eventually managed to order one from Northern Zambia. We then had a few days to wait which in Mongu could have been a tad boring. However there was a big funeral on and the vice president was in town. Whilst having lunch in the garden of our hotel he and his entourage turned up so we had our lunch in the middle of his. We didnt meet him but did meet the Zambian embassador to Nigeria.
Next day, still waiting, we dicided to go and see the kings palace out on the Zambezi flood plain.After 20 minutes on another half built road we arrived at the palace and I parked the Landy outside the gates. Within seconds we were told to move it immediately, we had parked on their equivalent of a parade ground I think. We then had an audience with the kings representatives and were told to return to town and go to his other palace to get permission to enter this palace. We duly did this and then followed a bit of misunderstanding as the next set of  kings representatives thought we wanted an audience with the king, however we couldnt think of what we wanted to say to him. I was then taken off as the eldest in the party to meet more of the kings reps. who then grilled me about who we were what we were doing etc. The outcome was that they wanted me to go back to town to get a letter of introduction fron the Permanent Secretary to the Provincial Governement. At this point we gave up!

Next day the pump arrived, it was the wrong one, but Moses spent all day getting it modified and we eventually set off back to the truck. Amazingly the pump fitted however the truck was stuck in thick sand and we took another hour to dig it out. It is amazing the amount of sand 20 small children can move with their bare hands when promised a few kwatches. We evenyually got back to Mongu safely and had a few beers with Moses and his wife to celbrate.

Into Zambia

From Bum Hill we crossed the the Zambian border at Katima and headed for and headed for the falls at Ngembi??? The road was atrociuos although better than we had seen the previous year. We stopped at a small riverside campsite near the falls. Next day we took an early river trip to see the falls, the river and the falls themselves were quite beautiful.  An added atrc tion was the rapids we had to shoot on the way, Tilly however was not too impressed with all the crashing about and spray everywhere. We then continued up the same dodgy road to Senanga. via an old ferry across the river. The truck and the Landrover and trailer just fitted on. we arrived in Senanga in the middle of an election rally. Chris managed to meet the local MP! 

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Bum Hill

We have travelled 400 km! Still in Namibia. Bum hill camp site is The eighth wonder of the world. Trying to set up camp with an elephant within 20 feet was a little distracting!
Fab showers too quite literally in amongst the elephants and hippos! Now sitting in front of the fire listening to the animals wondering which direction the next elephant or hippo is coming from!

Leaving Rundu

The truck is sort of ok. All packed and ready to go - oh no batteries flat on truck! thank goodness for friendly camping neighbours who helped jump start and get us on our way!
Before leaving we did donate some exercise books and some clothes to the camp owners who have set up a local pre school and also support a local very poor primary school.
The incredibly kind owners of Nkwazi Camp had refused to take money for our extended stay due to the breakdowns so instead of paying for camping we gave a donation. How far will we get?

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