Friday, June 14, 2013

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.

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