Wednesday, September 18, 2013

This is our last blog but with the photos.

You may have noticed that all the photos that were in the blog, going back to our trip around Europe in 2011 have gone.  I am going to try and get them back. I SUGGEST THAT YOU  delete anything that comes through to you by e-mail between now and DECEMBER 1st as we shall not be writing anything new before then at the earliest.

I think that I have it sorted now, although I'm not completely sure. Time will tell!

Our border crossing from Tanzania to Kenya went very smoothly apart from
the fact that the parking break on the truck jammed half way through a
tricky bit of manoevering in a congested parking area. In the manual it
simply tells you to press the Emergency Parking Break Release. Not that
easy in a crowded situation with a large number of experienced African
lorry drivers cheering you on!

However, that problem resolved, eventually, we passed through all the
official bits without problem and set off on our way to Nairobi. Having
missed a turning along the way we arrived in the centre of the city during
evening rush hour. By the time we found the campsite it was dark and we
were very, very tired and I was quite irritable! Still nothing that a
glass of beer and a good nights sleep couldn't put right.

During the following week we had the most enjoyable time with an old
college friend of mine and his wife. Ate a lot of food, drank (probably
more than we should have)and laughed a great deal. We were taken to some
very interesting the Daphne Sheldrick Foundation to see the
orphan elephants which come from all over Kenya and are tended by their
keepers on a 24hour basis and fed on a special formula developed over the
years, with luck and a lot of patience these elephants are released into a
National Park to spend the rest of their lives unmolested.

They also took us to a place where they recycle flip flops, and another
where a man makes the most beautiful glasses out of old bottles and then
etches them with wild animals, birds or whatever else you fancy. We ate
out a lot, laughed a lot and had great fun.

Apart from that we did spend a lot of time talking with Mikey and Jane
about where we should go in Kenya during the month that we had available.
We settled on a trip to the Masai Mara and then a sweep north to Nakuru
and the lake so that we could see some other friends.

Going to the Mara proved to be much more of a trip that we had expected.
Our map showed a decent road. It turned out to be a very rough dirt track
with lots of pot holes and detours. When we eventually arrived, a day and
a half after leaving Nairobi, we found a lovely campsite and a very
helpful man to take us into the Reserve and show us around. Another
significant highlight of Africa. Lions,

leopard more wildebeest and zebra than you can imagine. There were also
lots and lots of tourist vehicles. Difficult to take a photo without a
Land Cruiser showing up somewhere,however we did manage to have a pair of
lions to ourselves for about 20minutes though we had to share the leopard
with lots of others....well worth it though!!!

After the excitement of the Mara we found another road misrepresented on
our map! A road of about 50 miles was shown as tar; actually slick mud and
even worse when it rained. The result was that we had to spend a night
parked up on the side of the road miles from anywhere. Not the first time
we have done that, of course, but the first time in Kenya, where we had
been told it was not advisable to do so. Still, in the morning we were
able to carry on although negotiating our way down hill past a large truck
bogged down in the middle of road was a bit nerve wracking.

One of the things we hadn't really appreciated was how high most of Kenya
is. Nairobi is at about 1800 meters and, going west to the Mara, you climb
a bit and then drop down into the Great Rift Valley at about 1500 meters.
At school we always drew the floor of the Rift Valley flat. I was really
surprised to find it full of hills and the remnants of some sizable
volcanoes. Although I knew that there we lakes in the valley, there were
far more than I expected. We camped for a few nights beside Lake
Naiavasha, which has some lovely birds and hippos and is freshwater. Right
beside it, separated only by a very narrow causeway is Lake Oloidon , no
hippos and lots and lots of flamingoes.

Flamingoes don't like fresh water. There is lots of evidence that Lake Naiavasha has been the home of
flamingoes in the not to distant past. Apparently, depending on who you talk to, it's down to global warming!

Now we are back in Nairobi and will be flying home on September 24/25th
after spending the week with Mickey and Jane whilst putting the truck into
storage. Home for a holiday!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tanzania - with photos!

Sorry there are no photos this time. Having a nightmare with the internet and this computer. Will update this blog as soon as. We have now been in Tanzania for a month. The highlight of this month is a choice between a fantastic day spent in the Ngorongoro Creater and Liz falling into a storm drain and breaking her wrist! 

The latter happened on our second day in the country and meant that we had to stay put on a campsite close to Iringa so that we could be sure that the resetting of the wrist and the plaster cast was satisfactory. Although it all seemed OK we decided to go to a rather smart clinic in Dar es Salaam just to have the break re-x-rayed and get a second opinion. The most exciting part of getting this second opinion was the ride in a tuk-tuk from the campsite to the clinic and back with the river crossing. We discovered that a tuk-tuk can just get through the foot passenger access route as long as it is hooting its horn for the entire 3 minutes that it takes to get from the ticket office to the edge of the dock! Anyway, The Public Hospital in Iringa got the approval of the rather smart consultant at the Aga Kahn Clinic and we are now looking for someone to remove the plaster cast and replace with a splint and bandage. Hopefully this will give Liz a bit more mobility and she should feel a lot more comfortable. 

 The second highlight, the Ngorongoro Crater, is between the town of Arusha and the Serengeti, quite close to the border with Kenya. After looking at several ways of getting into the Crater we decided to drive to the small town closest to it, Karatu, and then get someone to drive us in. Because of the nature of the place there are lots of restrictions and costs involved. 
For example, there is a one off cost for taking a vehicle down into the creator of $200 and only Tanzanian vehicles are allowed in. There are also weight constraints so that only vehicles of Land Rover size allowed in. The paperwork involved is quite unbelievable, involving a trip to a bank to pay the entrance fees, in US$, and then driving to the park to queue for about a 30 minutes to get the 5 copies of the bank receipt stamped and then replaced with 2 different sheets of paper, one of which is handed to a guard who has watched you go into the office and go through this whole process and the other is handed to the same person when you leave the park in the evening! Once you get down into the crater all this becomes irrelevant and a thing of distant and fading memory. There are an estimated 30,000 animals in an area of 265 square kilometres, or about 10 miles by 12 miles. We sat and ate our lunch watching a lioness basking in the sunshine, a little restless as she watched a herd of buffalo, knowing that she would need to wait for at least one other lion to come along to help her get supper.

Earlier we had had the most magnificent sighting of a male lion which passed so close to our Land Rover that you could see the flys sitting on his back and smell the lion. 

 We were told that the numbers of wildebeest in the Crater at this time of the year was low because numbers of them had left to go into the Serengeti and Masai Mara as part of the migration.  I find it difficult to imagine there being many more wildebeest than we saw in such a small area. They and zebras were everywhere that you looked. It is also quite a strange sensation being down of the floor of the Crater, about 610 meters below the rim, part of which is shrouded in cloud which you can see tumbling over the rim and into the Crater. The whole of the floor of the Crater is basking in sunshine and, I marked contrast to the rim, warm without being excessively hot. 

In this northern area of Tanzania we have come across many Masai. They are often working as guards at campsites. They are tall and very impressive in their traditional dress, always wearing a long narrow bladed knife and carrying a cherished stick. Very occasionally they are also seen carrying a spear too. On their feet they mostly wear a pair of flip flop type shoes that appear to be made from old car tyres. Against all this tradition, it is startling as you look at them with some awe and then hear the stark tones of a mobile phone, answered with "hallo" followed by a pause and then a gabble in a language one can not understand. It is said that there are more mobile phones per head of population in Tanzania than England!

On our journey from the coast to Arusha we travelled on some of the worst roads we have ever encounter anywhere in the World, made even more annoying by the fact that the new road, 90% complete but unusable, runs parallel and within sight of the bone shaker along which we were driving. We survived although we did loose our number plate and all of the rear lights on one side of the truck. Fortunately, we have been able to replace them but the hand painted number plate bothers me a bit! During this part of the journey we drove to the top of the Usambara Mountains and stayed at a campsite with the most amazing views and glorious sunsets. Our next move is to cross the border into Kenya to see, amongst other things, an ex-college friend of mine. We shall do that tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Lake Malawi has an area about equivalent to the area of Wales! There is, however, more to the country than just the Lake. The walls of the Great African Rift Valley rise, in places, from the shores of the Lake [about 1500 feet] to a quite mountainous terrain with streams, small farms, rocky hillsides and cold, cold morning temperatures! Some mornings have almost been frosty. The views are spectacular when you get up high and you can see for miles…even to the other side of the lake.

Large numbers of fishermen get their living from the lake using various methods to catch the fish. Most entail going out in a mokoro, paddling it across the water, sometimes they dangle a line other times they use a net…they row out from the beach in a semi-circle towing a net behind them, when they reach the shore they rest for a while then they start pulling the net in. It takes 5 men on each end of the net, and about 20 minutes of hard rhythmical tugging and on the occasion we watched, all for a bucket full of fish. Apparently this is the windy season….there is always a breeze….so the fish swim lower in the water, and the catches are not so good. We had a delicious meal of Chambo, which is only found in Lake Malawi, one of the nicest fish we have ever eaten. There are environmental issues here too, as the fishermen are catching smaller fish which are the breeding stock for the future….what a dilemma!

On our way inland we came across a rubber plantation…tall rubber trees with a slanting groove in them and a small pot hanging under the slit. The liquid rubber trickles down the slot into the pot!! In addition to the industrial rubber collected by the factory staff there appeared to be a local trade in rubber balls made from the dried strips of rubber when the tree stopped dripping. These strips were wound into balls of varying sizes and sold at the roadside…no delivery miles for those balls!!


Apart from following the edge of the lake we went to a wildlife reserve along 30ks of rough road. There were signs of tobacco growing and we met a loaded lorry that was off to the auction floors in Mzuzu. There were small houses all along the road…Malawi has more people per square kilometre than any other African country we have been in…making it hard to find a lunch-time picnic spot!! We spent 2 days sitting close to the lake…and wandering about a bit…hippos slept on the shore all morning sunbathing, then waddled off into the water. Baboons and monkeys clambered about in the trees…the little ones were really cute…and various antelope came to the water to drink, impala, bushbuck and kudu. It is really good when the wildlife comes to you!! We had campfires each night which we shared with some other Brits…all good fun and lots of chats about experiences in Africa.

 Justlook at the mouth on that hippo!

After a quick flit back to Mzuzu to stock up on a few essentials, we headed north to Chitimbe where we were greeted in the campsite by 4 large Overland Trucks, about 100 people and a really cute chameleon!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

We are now travelling up the west side of Lake Malawi, the water is very blue,and the fishing boats come in laden with small fish that are put on racks to dry, or boiled to preserve them for longer. We wandered along the beach to get a closer look and were greeted with lots of 'hello, what's your name?' from tiny tots to teenagers! All great fun. The children all have their jobs, carrying water, doing the washing-up in the lake, looking after their younger siblings, spreading the fish on the racks...they even get time to do acrobatics to entertain each other or anyone walking by. They all seem so happy, it is really great to see.
In the evenings the fishermen load paraffin lamps on the front of their mokoros and paddle out across the lake. Apparently the fish are attracted to the light and can be more easily is great to see all the twinkling lights across the water.

There are a number of very nice camp-sites along the lake as the water here is warm and clear, ideal for diving and snorkelling. As yet, we have not done any, although there is a plan. So far the priority has been to find a place with a decent TV so that we can watch the British & Irish Lions in their quest to win the series in Australia. Eventually we were successful for the second test...shame about the Lions. Next week should be good, though. There may also be some tennis to watch as well!!!
Before arriving at Lake Malawi we set off on a quick flit around the southern part of the country. Blantyre proved to be something of a disappointment [not helped by the first rain we had encountered since leaving home] although it did have a very nice church that we spent an hour browsing.
By contrast, close to the border with Mozambique, we came across one of the tea growing areas of Malawi.
Not far north of the tea growing area of Mulanje we came across the former administrative capital of Zomba. The town was of little interest to us but the overshadowing plateau looked very inviting. This massive block of rock towers over the town at about 1850meters [fairly similar in height to Mt Ventoux, part of the Tour de France, that we climbed whilst doing our shake down trip in Europe]. Although similar in that there was a tar road almost to the top, the interesting part of the drive was on some fairly rough dirt road with steep drops to one side. An exciting day, some spectacular views and in the closing stages and encounter with a tree that had fallen across the road. No prospect of reversing or turning back! How glad we were that we had our chain saw…. And it worked, first time, well the first time after I had remembered to switch on the electrical switch!
One of the oddities on this plateau, remote as it was, is that if you stop moving someone will appear to try and sell you something; quite possibly something like this:
  From there we went to a National Park, Liwonde, renowned for its elephants and waterbuck.

There was a fantastic drive all along the river with masses of waterbuck, great numbers of warthogs which always make us laugh as they run away with their tails stuck right up in the air. There were also some good birds, though we haven't done much birding this trip, yet. The fishermen were all out throwing their nets over the side of their small mokoros, and then hauling them in again.  
The hippos didn't seem at all bothered by the fishermen, though they might be more interested if a fisherman fell over the side!! We didn't see any elephants, but we did see them in our campground!!! they came to visit each evening a distance away..we did hear one stripping a bush just a few yards from us in our truck....door and most windows were shut, so no danger there!!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Malawi's main export is tobacco. As an addict of the dreaded weed for many years I felt compelled to visit the place where it is auctioned, in huge quantities, for sale to the world. The place where this happens is at the "auction floors".

Actually there is only one "auction floor", very large and lined
with rows of bales of tobacco. Nearly all the tobacco up for auction is destined for the cigarette market. The odour within the building doesn't remind you in the least of cigarettes. There is a sweetness in the air that is difficult to place. There seem to be as many people milling about as there were bales of tobacco lined in military array.  We arrived at the auction floors without appointment, but within minutes, a guide was organized to take us around and explain how this market worked. Suffice it to say that is is very different to Chippenham Livestock Market! Only 10 people are involved, initially, in the selling of (on the day we visited) 10573 bales of tobacco. (Peak sales are 12500 bales). On the selling side there are 4 with 6 buyers. The auctioneers team walk along one side of the bales and the buyers walk on the other side. The first person on the auctioneers team calls the details of the bale to be auctioned, the auctioneer takes the bids of the buyers and knocks the bale down to the top bidder. The next man on the auctioneers team writes on the bale docket the details of price and buyer. Whilst he is doing this the auctioneers teams moves on to the next bale, by which time the 4th man on the auctioneers team is writing down the details of the latest sale. - phew - during this very short time the two groups - 4 auctioneers on one side and 6 buyers on the other side have not stopped walking and the auctioneer has not stopped talking. At the end of each row of bales the auctioneer is greeted with a large glass on water - he definitely deserved t!! So, now that the bales are sold, they have to be checked for quality and leaf type. More people. The bales are then, if there are no problems over quality and leaf type, sew up - another gang of workers - removed from the floors to the loading bays by sack truck - yet another gang. Finally they are loaded by fork lift truck onto lorries to be moved to the premises of the buyers. - yet more people. Once in the buyers sheds it is sorted and loaded on lorries which transport it to either Durban in South Africa or Beira in Mozambique for export to the worlds great cigarette makers.
I enjoyed this days outing as much as I used to enjoy cigarettes.

Friday, June 14, 2013

On our way out of the wonderful South Luangwa National Park, we passed Tribal Textiles, where they print cotton by hand and turn it into a variety of items which they sell locally and send all over Zambia. We were amazed at the skill and dexterity of some of the painters, who were drawing and colouring free-hand, but even those with a transfer under the cloth were able to draw perfect semi-circles and straight lines!!

 The colour of the paint is mixed entirely by eye, from red, yellow and blue, with small patches of colour on a scrap of paper to be matched. The paint is made of flour and water…(memories of childhood !!)and then the painted cloth is baked in an oven for a short while.

A new line for them is a collection of bags made out of old maize-meal sacks, …very nice they were too. There were also some very nice cards on sale, and on closer inspection we discovered they were taken by a man called Edward Selfe !!! he is the fiancĂ© of the woman who runs Tribal Textiles…I was able to tell her that it is great being a Self !!!!
We are off to Malawi in the next day or two to start another adventure…snorkelling in Lake Malawi, and some walking in the mountains and who knows what else!!?
South Luangwa National Park is all that it says in the guide books. Loads of
animals of all sorts. Well organized with good roads through the park and a good
deal of freedom - you can get out of your car where ever you want, your risk.
Really, really nice feeling all over.

We did two organized game drives with the campsite we stayed at and also spent a day
in the park with our truck.

The really big thing here is the leopards. We didn't see any. Our neighbours saw 3!
To add insult to injury, we saw them about half a mile behind us at a point we had
passed a short time earlier, saw their camera flashing and guess what they were

We didn't see this but they gave us the photo.
However, we did see these. They had just killed a buffalo and were sleeping it off.
They are so close to the truck that you can smell them. We didn't need a long lens
for this photo.

Back into town tomorrow to prepare for the crossing into Malawi - money changing,
top up with diesel, shopping etc. probably not really necessary but we like to do it
when we have the chance just in case half the bad things we are told are true.

Monday morning's run into Lusaka was interrupted only by a brief stop to look at a petrified forest. Very similar to the other petrified forests we have visited although they did have some quite large examples still in, almost, one piece.

We also spent a little time watching a craftsman carving a wooden candle stick on a lathe powered by his assistant's arms. He alternately pulled the end of a strap which operated a mechanism to rotate the lathe. There didn't seem to be much gearing involved in the system, it looked like hard work.

The campsite in Lusaka had a variety of animals, giraffe, zebra, water buck, impala and of course some monkeys just roaming around the campers. There was a gate which most of the campers shut only to have it left open by the locals who popped in for a drink at the campsite bar.

 Lusaka is a modern city with everything that you would expect to find in a modern city. We were able to stock up with food, drink and a new bird book as ours didn't cover the birds north of the Zambian border and there are far more of these than we thought! Should have bought the expensive book first time - would have been cheaper in the long run!

One of the bits of bureaucracy we have found difficult to understand is a round visas and charges for visas in Zambia. Firstly, it has fairly recently been made illegal to charge for things in any thing other than the New Zambian Kwetcha. Visas cost US$80 for a 90 day multiple entry visa. Secondly, when you, having converted the Kwetcha you have just acquired into US$, have purchased said visa you get a stamp in your passport that allows you to stay in the country for 30 days! But I've just paid for a 90 day visa you exclaim; just go to the nearest immigration office when the 30 days has expired, they calmly reply, and your entry permit will be extended by a further 30 days, free of charge. SO as we were in Lusaka and the Lonely Planet Guide had a map that showed where the immigration office was, we decided, even though we had been in Zambia for only 25 days, to go and and get a 30 day extension. It required the telling of more than one little white lie, and the telling of them with as much charm as it is possible to muster when confronted with this type of petty bureaucracy, to have our passports stamped 5 days before they should have been, free of charge. Had we no idea of how much difficulty this sort of thing caused? asked the charming assistant in the immigration office.

Whilst in Lusaka we also discovered that our trip to the Lower Zambezi National Park had caused some damage to the metal box that houses our house batteries. Fortunately, we noticed that there was a branch of a firm who had done some work for us in Botswana (Aliboats built a ladder for us so that we could get onto the top of the cab) and we went to see them. Half a day later they had removed the box, strengthened it, and refitted it to the truck.

 Next stop, South Luangwa National Park. The Park entrance is about 730km from Lusaka so we knew that we wouldn't get there in one day. By the time we messed about with a few odds and ends in Lusaka and discovered also that the cash machines were not giving money (no one seemed to know why) it was after lunchtime by the time we got away, although we did have cash! Knowing that. We couldn't make our first choice campsite we went for plan B. This turned out to the better bet. This small campsite run by a Dutch guy and his English wife, most recently from Somerset, had a wonderful bar/terrace overlooking the Luangwa River and lovely hot showers and flush toilets with proper toilet paper! Following day's drive proved to be the worst day we have had on a tar road. Lots of pot holes and lots of up and down. Still, we eventually got to Chipata where we found a good campsite and a well stocked SPAR, not that we needed it as we had stocked up in Lusaka but it will be a good place to stock up before we cross to Malawi.
After our trip to The Zambesi Gorge we decided that a few more little bits of work needed doing to the tank! At mid-day. We were able to get away and head for Lake Kariba and the dam. So far all the roads we have travelled in Zambia have been fairly good - the tar roads, that is, dirt tracks have been a different matter. Eagle's Rest at Siavonga, on the lake edge, proved a very nice , quite resting place. It had the convenience of a bar, restaurant and hippos that wandered around the campsite at night. Liz got quite a shock when she popped out to visit the loo just before going to bed! A signpost promised us crocs too, but we didn't see any sign of them.

Lake Kariba is HUGE.

There are lots of statistics, but, to be honest, the numbers are so big that we got even more confused. Largest lake in Africa, man-made, and one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. Lots and lots of water. At the dam there are two power stations, one each for Zambia and Zimbabwi. All seems to work well, although several people have said that it works better on the Zambian side.

Our next target was the Lower Zambezi National Park. Getting there didn't look to be too much of a challenge! 80kms, even if it should turn out to be all dirt couldn't be that difficult. Suffice it to say that we were very glad to get to the park gates. FOR A COUPLE OF MOMENTS. Our truck was too big to be allowed into the park, they said. No there was no camping available near the park (Lonely Planet said the was - LP had it wrong.). There used to be a couple of campsites on the rive banks but they have long since packed up and gone. I imagine because few people ever go there. Fortunately, Conservation Lower Zambezi have a place just by the river and close to the Park entrance. The very nice English girl who runs the place was kind enough to let us spend the night in their car park. She also invited us to join her and some friends who were sitting around a camp fire on the river bank drinking coffee and listening to the lions on the Zimbabwe side of the river. Very pleasant! CLZ is an NGO involved in environmental education and anti-poaching support in the area.
In the morning we turned around and drove the horrible dirt track again. Just before we arrive at the tar road we came across a riverside lodge (not the Zambezi but still a nice river) and decided to spend a couple of nights in their campground, eat in their restaurant and relax on the terrace overlooking the river. That took care of the week-end and enabled us to watch some more Super 15 rugby.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

So the new tank is fixed and we shall know in a couple of days if it requires any adjustment. Seems fine at the moment!

In the meantime we decided to go and have a look at the Zambezi Gorge. Several people had told us how spectacular it was. Firstly we had a look at a couple of the “adrenalin trips”, a zip wire across a 200 meter deep gorge and the “gorge swing”, which appeared to be a cross between a bungee jump and a zip wire. Neither of these appealed to us [which I’m sure will not surprise you]. Whilst we were there we saw no other takers either.

In the afternoon we found ourselves at the Base Camp of an American Missionary group who had the most amazing site overlooking rapid 14 on the gorge.

Should they ever decide to give up saving souls in Africa, I am quite certain that all of the big hotel chains will beat a path to their door to buy the site for their No.1 hotel. Apart from the view they ran a fleet of ex-NATO DAF trucks, some of which they had driven down from Holland about 5 or 6 years ago. Unfortunately they were all a little older than our DAF and had different engines otherwise we might have been involved in some practical mechanics rather than just “telling war stories” about our trucks.

Back into the civilisation of Livingstone for the weekend before reporting to Ferdy for a final check on the tank. We gave it a fair hammering yesterday. The roads to the mission were not as bad as the roads we were on last week-end but not far off!

I have updated the map but have not brought us back from Choma to Livingstone as this could get very confusing with the little blue bubbles!

After the magnificence of Victoria Falls we decided to go and see some animals!

We set off for a National Park, driving 200ks on tar then 80 on rough road which
took us much longer than the tar! There were rough patches on the rough patches,
concrete bridges with no sides, small communities all along the road with excited
children rushing out to wave at us,and several broken down vehicles, one of which
was desperate for a drink of water as they had been there for 20 hours!
We alsoparted with 4 apples too!!!
We arrived at the entrance to the park just at closing time, so they kindly let us
stay the night, and we were ready to set off early the next morning. We drove for
about 40ks, the road got worse till we got to a stage where we were afraid the truck
might turn over in a 4 ft hole, so we turned around and sadly left the park, but
with our home still intact. To add insult to injury we hit a large bump and 2
cupboard doors flew open! 2 bottles of wine broke and spread themselves all over the
floor,a large jar of Nescafe also broke and mixed its contents with the wine,French
dressing was also added to the mix....disgusting. We now have locks on our doors,so
providing we remember to fasten them,things should be better!
We spent the week-end on a farm,with camping! We slept next to a flock of sheep and
goats,who woke us early each morning...they went out to graze each day...we watched
the endeavors of the villagers as they came and went,often carrying large buckets of
water on their is amazing how they do that...and we admired their best
clothes as they went of to church on Sunday..the school children also looked smart
as they went off to school on Monday morning.
Next we went to stay on a working farm. 1000 beef cattle, 600 sheep and significant
numbers of game. Also it is home to a small bird which is on the 1 kwetcha coin,
called a Zambian (or Chaplin's ) barbet. It is an endangered species and we enjoyed
going with one of the farm workers to seek it out. It was always in the top of the
trees so no really close look, but it was lovely to see.( we shall become twitchers
We camped in the garden with bushbuck coming to drink each morning and
12 peacocks woke us each morning, and 5 horses mooched around all day. The
campsite was full of a school trip,about 25 youngsters from Lusaka out for an
adventure. We went to join them for lunch, and had long chats with their teachers
and the owner of the farm. Very interesting.

Now we are back in Livingstone, having a new diesel tank fitted. Our old one had
been leaking diesel from its seams for a while,and the cap didn't fit properly.
Zambian diesel is quite expensive,and we were fed up with the leaking, so Ferdy is
fitting a new one,with the help of his 3 guys. We are sitting waiting in a garden
cafe called Zig-zag, with pop music playing,and lots of shade. We have been
told it will be about an hour more (we have been here for 3 already) so we shall
see. We are learning that time is something different in Africa!!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Having made the decision to head for Zambia, we dashed up the Caprivi Strip stopping only briefly at Divindu to visit the National Park at Mahango. This is another Park that we visited last year. In contrast to Etosha, which was so dry, this park had far more water than last year. A country of contrasts!

We spent a couple of nights in a campsite close to the border at Katima Mulillo to brace ourselves for the crossing. This turned out to be un-necessary as all and sundry seemed determined to help us through the formalities. When we first arrived we were sent into the commercial vehicle area, a plush, new and very modern area but not the place for us we discovered. We had to go to the area for private vehicles which comprised several shacks, caravans and a converted container. It was a trail from passport to carnet to road tax to insurance and then onto local tax! But everyone was friendly and very jolly so we had a good time.

By crossing the Zambezi we were then in Zambia, the first 100 kilometers of which has a road to test the patience of a Saint! Potholes that reminded us of Brazil! The last 100km which took us into Livingstone were really quite good, ALTHOUGH, Livingstone High Street had ridges running along it which made it almost impossible to turn either left or right, even with 4 wheel drive.

Vic Falls turned out to be even better than we had expected. Our campsite was 11km up river from the falls but it was possible to hear the roar of water descending into the gorge and to see the plumes of spray for the Hotel Bar at sunset. Visiting the Falls is a noisy, wet but unforgettable experience.