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Zambia - Luiwa Plains & Kafue Nat Parks - Sep/Oct 2005

keith richardson

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SORRY- some of the links to some pics are not working


[align=center]Trip Report
Zambia – Luiwa Plains and
Kafue Nat Parks Sep/Oct 2005
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Trip Participants:
Alastair Alexander – LC 100GX
Alfred and Jarred Hilton – LC 80 GX
Keith Richardson – LC 100GX
Mark Seele – Hi-Lux 2.2
Andre Taljaard & Danie Scheepers – LC 79
Louis and Drienie VD Merwe – LC 100GX
Peter Zagel – LC 79

Trip Computer:
Total Distance 4924km
Max Speed 138kph
Moving Avg Speed 55.3kph
Moving Time 89.01 hr
Departure Date 23rd September 2005.
Return Date 7th October 2005.


Day 1; Jhb to Nata Lodge - 959km


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We all met as planned at the Total Petroport on the N1 north of Pretoria. We had a cup of coffee and a toasted bacon and egg sarmie and hit the road.
Stopped to fill up with fuel at Maastroom (Caltex Fuel Stop) before turning off to the Zanzibar border post, it was here that Andre noticed that his left rear wheel was leaking diff oil, we assumed that the rear wheel oil seals were shot. (but as you know, assumption is the mother of all [email protected])
I got a bit of a hassle from SA immigration as a result of the temporary residents visa that was stuck in my passport on our Namibia trip in April, which was now expired. (Long story – but after living here for 30 years I am now an illegal immigrant)
We got to Francistown just after lunch, we thought that Toyota will be able to change the oil seal on Andre’s truck fairly quickly, - mistake, as it turned out the whole wheel bearing was shattered and fell out in pieces when the hub was removed, some of the rollers that fell out were hexagonal instead of round.
Well it was 32 hours later before we were on the road again. Fortunately we had established cellphone contact with Louis who was waiting for us at Nata odge with dinner already made.

Day 2; Nata Lodge to Zambezi Lodge (Katimo Mulilo) - 467km

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Not wanting to follow the main roads we took a little used track (turn off at S18.83125 E25.60149) into Chobe Nat Park. On the main Nata/Kasane road we came across a truck and trailer that was on fire – sad to see a man’s living go up in smoke.
The track through Chobe was sandy and very hot. We stopped for a break when we reached the Savuti / Kachekau road, it was at this point that we noticed that one of the brackets on Louis’ roof rack was broken and had fallen off, we also noticed that on all the vehicles, the fuel in the fuel tanks was boiling. We made a temp fix of the roof rack with plastic irrigation pipe, more of these brackets would break later in the trip.
When we reached the tar road near the Nogoma Bridge Border we phoned Alastair who had only left Jhb that morning was by now only about 20km behind us, so once we had completed the border formalities, we pulled over to wait for him.
We drove in to Zambezi Lodge at about 18:00.

Day 3; Zambezi Lodge to Thebe Campsite - 130km

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As expected after an early start, the border formalities crossing into Zambia took some time and some USD, it was 11:30 by the time we were actually back on the road.
We had a brief stop at Kabula Lodge to enjoy a beer with Gavin Johnson and his wife, we also acquired a much more heavy duty piece of irrigation pipe for Louis’ roof rack.

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After the beer stop we literally got mugged at the Sioma/Maziba community levy checkpoint where we were each charged R100 “Foreign Plate Levy”
Shortly after this we pulled into the Thebe Campsite.
On the road the whole day and we only covered 130km.

Day 4; Thebe Campsite to Bush Camp – 197km
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We left camp early to take in the 12hr round trip walk to the Sioma Fals and back.
To all that travel this way – the falls is well worth the walk, in the future however the community will use powerboats that will be able to ferry visitors right to the falls.
After the Sioma falls we headed north through some Mopani forest then up the western side of the Barotse Plains. We stopped at some nice shady trees at about 16:30 to set up camp, but we had all just got out of our cars when we got attacked by TseTse flies so we decided to push on until we found another suitable spot. Well as many of you know that have travelled Africa, once you do this, you think that the next campsite will be just around the next bend, ha ha after this we came across the most densely populated section of track that we would encounter during this trip. All of the villages were situated on the high ground on the outer edge of the Barotse Flood Plains. We drove for what felt like hours and all we saw was villages, locals and mangoe trees, I’ve never seen so many mangoe trees in my life. At this stage it was starting to get dark, I saw a foot path heading out into the plains, and suggested that we park in the middle of plains for the night as there was nobody in the middle of the plains. Turned out to be a great campsite.

Day 5; Bush Camp to Luiwa Plains (Katoyana Campsite) – 103km

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We got an early start, and arrived at the Parks Board Offices in Kalobo by about 11:00, we paid our fees, negotiated the ferry crossing charge and headed for Luiwa.

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Louis had a spot of bother with the local constabulary, because some of the local kids hitched a ride hanging off his cruiser so he wanted to give Louis a ticket. We reached our allocated campsite Katoyana at about 14:00 so we decided to chill for the rest of the day.
On the drive into the park we saw many fish eagles (strangely nesting on the ground), Storks, Secretary Birds, wildebeest, Thompsons gazelle
The campsite was nice and shady but there was little or no water.
The bracket on Andre’s Air springs had collapsed and he set about fettling a piece of wood to fit as a support for the collapsed bracket. This lasted a few days.

Day 6: Luiwa Plains Katonya Camp – Rest day – 49km

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Rest day took an early morning game drive saw some big migrating herds of Zebra, Widebeest and Thompsons gazelles, we also saw lots of hyena. No Lions, or Cheetah though.
What must be the strangest sight I have witnessed in the bush, was watching a hyena steal a freshly caught barbell away from a fish eagle.
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Day 7; Luiwa Plains to Bush camp – 132km

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There is no “Official” route out of the park to the north, however, in places the tracks have been fairly well travelled, but in others the tracks are none existent and have been overgrown by the annual floods so navigating out to the north is extremely difficult. As more people take this route it will be become more defined and easier to follow. We were navigating Anton Mathee’s tracklog from Oct 2004, but be warned in some places this is not a track and we were merely driving through virgin bush.
We reached Lukulu and here we got the run around for the ferry which can only carry one vehicle at a time and I doubt very much that you could get vehicle and trailer on this ferry.
This ferry will take only Kwacha, he charged us Kw75,000 per vehicle, I subsequently learnt that he charges the locals Kw45,000 and I read another trip report on another forum where they were charged Kw60,000 so be warned…..
I ran around in the village for nearly an hour to exchange USD into kwacha to pay for all of the crossings.
I crossed at about 12;00am and by 16;30 the last of our seven vehicles was safely across. We drove for an hour then found a clearing to camp.
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Day 8; Bush Camp to Zambezi (village) – 178km

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Shortly before departing Mark decided to change the voltage regulator on his alternator, but this did not delay our departure too much.
En route to the Watopa Ferry there was a young local riding his bicycle in the track, but this bike was 10 sizes too big for him and he was totally unstable, when he heard me coming he panicked and fell right in front of me, I stopped about 500mm from his head, when did you last see a local indigenous boy turn white???? But jokes aside it was very nearly a major tragedy, can you imagine hitting a local in the middle of Zambia where there are no police and no transport and no hospitals and no and no and no.
After the Watopa ferry crossing were running late so we decided not to take the river raod but to follow the main track to Zambezi
As you can see from this trip report we were driving from 08:30 to 17:00 everyday and only averaging 140-170km per day, whereas we had planned to cover at least 250-300km per day.
We arrived at Zambezi at about 14:00, the garage only takes Kwacha but there is a local bank where we exchanged some money. We should have noticed something was wrong when the pump jockey said that although the pump was marked Kw6300 per litre, he was charging Kw8400 per ltr. (The next day he wanted Kw9600 per litre)
What we didn’t know at the time, was that this was going to be our last fuel for nearly 1200km.
We proceeded to Mark Hilhorst’s house, to meet Mark and his family.
Then we went to one of the wonders of this part of the world, a 250mtr long suspension foot bridge across the Zambezi that was built by a mission priest with no engineering background or skills.
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We then set up camp on Mark’s farm on the banks of the Zambezi, had a swim in the Zambezi them Mark and his family joined us for a dinner of meat, meat, or meat.

Day 9; Zambezi to Zambezi – 152km (Last fuel)
The original plan was to drive up towards the border town of Chavuma on the DRC border, cross the Zambezi river and drive down the western banks to the Village of Zambezi then head towards Kafue Nat Park and Kasempa were we would drop Mark off as he was travelling to Lusaka.
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The track up to Chavuma and the ferry crossing went without incident, however the track on the western bank of the Zambezi had not seen a vehicle since last yeat October when Anton and Jan travelled it. The track was so overgrown that we were only managing to averace 12kph and this was still inflicting serious damage (scratches) to the vehicles, I also managed to slash the sidewall of one of my tyres on a hidden tree stump. So we reached the mission and decided to pull ourselves across on the mission pontoon. Once we were all across we decided to spend another night on the banks of the Zambezi rather than pushing on to Kafue.
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Day 10; Zambezi – Kasempa – 467km
We stopped at the local garage in Zambezi to fill up with fuel, but his price had gone up , so we thought we’ll fill up at the next village, from here we stopped at every village garage and none had any fuel, as it turned out the whole country had run out of fuel.
We drove to Kasempa dropped Mark Hilhorst off at a friends house and proceeded South towards Kafue.
The track south of Kasempa deteriorates very rapidly into a track of talcum powder bull dust that overtakes you and covers your windscreen so that you cannot see where you are going.
As it was getting dark we pulled off parked and set up camp. We were awoken at 0500 by three horse on trailer rigs driving down this atrocious piece of road. This particular track although it is in very poor condition, is a short cut from the North of Zambia back to the main road to Lusaka that eliminates the necessity for driving all the way through the copperbelt. So even though the road condition is really bad the truckers still use it cos it saves them at least 2 days on the trip to Lusaka.
During this section which is badly corrugated in places I noticed a squeeking noise eminating from my roof rack brackets upon closer inspection the two front brackets had cracked. The stop any movement from increasing the crack I tied some bloudraad around the bracket and also used some cable ties as an additional security. This stopped the squeeking and stopped the crack from getting worse. This repair lasted the remainder of the trip.

Day 11; Kasempa bush camp to Masungwa Safari Lodge – 237km

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The trucks woke us at 05:00 so we were on the road by 07:00 and we had overtaken all of the trucks by 09:00
We arrived at the Northern entrance gate to Kafue Nat Park by about 09:30 paid our fees and proceeded with warning from the rangers to watch out for the tsetse flies. Shit they are relentless.
We stopped at a waterhole and saw a lioness come out to stalk some setetunga, we saw hippo, croc and the usual buck.
We had planned to camp at Lufupa, but we passed Lufupa just after we entered the park, so we tried to camp at one of the rest camps in the south east section of the park, we were turned away as these do not allow camping.

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Kafue is divided into two sections a North and South they are separated by a tar road that runs through the park east to west. We proceeded out of the northern part of the park to a campsite on the Kafue River called Masungwa, here we camped the night for USD10 each.
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Day 12; Masungwa Lodge to Nanzhilla campsite (Kafue) – 279km

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We took the easy road to Itechi Techi which is a village on the banks of a huge Hydroelectric dam of the same name. Once we crossed over the dam wall we re-entered the Kafue National Park. With the exception of elephants and the usual bucks we didn’t see anything extraordinary. But by this time some in the group were starting to fret a little about the fuel situation as we had already driven 1135km without fuel.
On the way to Nanzhilla Louis managed to shred his right rear tyre, and during the tyre changing exercise we noticed that another two of his roof rack brackets had broken. As we were only a few kilo’s from camp I said we should leave them and we will weld them tonight at camp.
We got into the Nanzhilla camp at about 18:30, put up the tents and proceeded to weld Louis' roof rack brackets, much to the surprise of most present.
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Day 13; Nanzhilla campsite (Kafue) – Livingstone 272km

We got an early start and headed towards Kalomo where we were hoping to find fuel. The track to Kalomo is in fairly good condition and we reached the village at about 11;00, however from about 30km from Kalomo some were starting to get become a bit tense as by now some of the trucks reserve lights had come on and everybody was trying to drive so as to conserve fuel and for some in the convoy this was a bit frustrating.
I still had a quarter tank left so I was driving normally and probably reached Kalomo about 20 minutes before everybody else and went in search of fuel, both garages in the village had none, but one of the pump jockies directed me to a little shack in the middle of the village market.
Here I found the Black Market fuel, they had 2 x 200ltr drums of petrol and 2 x 200ltr drums of diesel. Just at this time the rest of the convoy was arriving in the village and over the radio I directed them to the shack.
Everybody was very relieved, but there were also now rumours that Kasane had also run out of fuel.
I decided to put only 60 ltr in as this would have given me sufficien fuel to reach NATA. others put 80 ltr and the price was a staggering R15.00 per ltr.
As the filling was done with syphon pipes it took some time to get all the trucks fuelled. As we were leaving Kalomo there was a road block, here three of us got sent back to the local police station to pay fines for not having seperate white front and red rear reflectors. After seriously biting the local constabulary shit whilst sorting out the tickets they decided it would be more peaceful to let Alfred go than having to suffer another 10minute tirade from myself whilst writing the ticket.
Then about 20km out of Kalomo Alfred got a puncture, but this was repaired in about 5 minutes and we proceeded to Livingstone.
Once we arrived in Livingstone naturally we starting checking for fuel availability - all the filling stations were dry - No Fuel.
We checked in to the Maramba Campsite and half the party went to see the falls the other half went to the pub.

Day 14; Livingstone - Makgadigadi Pans 437km

A leisurely start to the day, an uneventful ferry crossing, and we arrived in Kasane to find and abundant supply of fuel (relief). Here we bode farewell to Louis and Drienie who were proceding through Chobe and along the Caprivi Strip and back to Slaap Stad via Namibia.
The rest of the party filled up and headed for Nata. Along the way we saw many small herds of elephants just next to the road.
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Once in Nata we decided rather than camp in Nata just for fun we would drive down the western side of Makgadigadi pans.
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An uneventful drive, except that by the time we wanted to set up camp the wind was blowing a gale and the dust storm was most horrific, so bad in fact that we couldnt even cook, we all just retired to our tents with a tin and went to bed.

Day 15; Makgadigadi Pans – Kubu Island - Gauteng 922km

An early start, we hit the vet fence and followed it to the gate, and then proceded to Kubu Island, now with newly demarcated campsites and ablution facilities. then on to Lethlekane and then tar road again.
We stopped in Mahalapye to refuel and decided to use another lesser used SA/Botswana border post at Parr's Halt. the border crossing took all of 20 minutes and we were all through. After the border crossing we said farewell to Andre and daan as they wanted to push on with haste as Andre had to leave the next morning for Louis Trichard. The rest of us proceded to Ellisrus were we stopped off at the Wimpy for a late lunch.
I arrived home at about 19:30.

A Great Trip - a few tense moments but everybody made up. Thanks to all that participated and made it the special adventure that it was -
Until the next time when we go back when its all wet, wet, wet.
 
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