Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Thanked: 208

    Default Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    This trip report was long due, as we traveled in October. Time constrains have restrained us of doing it before. The next installments will comprise the report. Thank you for reading!

    Zambia - October 2019 trip report

    This was our second self-drive trip to Zambia, two years after our first. We flew British Airways all the way from Lisbon to Livingstone, via Heathrow and Oliver Tambo, and we were at our destination in less than 24hrs.

    This time there were no predicaments to blame on, and the journey just followed as scheduled and predicted.

    The car, as at our maiden voyage, was rented from Hemingway´s, Livingstone. Although the initial hiring fees were not, at first sight, competitive against other companies in SA or Namibia, it fitted us well in therms of itinerary, time available, and most of all reliability and security. If something serious would happen to the car (your home and means of travel) your whole holiday could be ruined, remembering that even if hiring in Zambia a replacement can take a few days to be delivered depending on where you are and if this comes as an option in the hiring contract. Renting from elsewhere that may not even be a option to consider.
    Having said that, “ Manny ” our trusty Hilux - was our sweet home and means of transportation for the next 21 days. As expected, it came reliable, faultless and exceedingly effective as before. The car comes fully kitted with all the camping and recovery equipment one may need, a perfect storage system and an autonomy range 1000-1200Km (double fuel tank 80+70 litre). The car comes standardly fitted with two RTT, being possible to ask for a ground tent if wanted, which we regretfully did not.

    For emergency purposes, we had hired a sat phone from a SA company, that at last minute failed to deliver. We learnt this while transiting at OT airport. Having no time to look for an alternative, we traveled in Zambia, to some of the remotest places in the country without a “safety net”, hoping for the best. Fortunately all went well. Something we ought not to repeat, if possible.

    The Itinerary:

    As previously said, this was our second (and probably not the last) time in Zambia, and we had as our primary targets Liuwa Plains and Bangweulu, not for the abundance of wildlife but for the uniqueness of their pristine environments and some wildlife specials: the Wattled-Crane (Liuwa), the Black Lechwe and if extremely fortunate the Shoebill Stork (Bangweulu). If we were extremely lucky we could also witness the start of wildebeest migration, the second largest wildebeest migratory phenomenon in Africa, that occurs at Liuwa from as early as October into December. Secondly, McBrides´s Camp (Eastern Kafue) a camp we missed on our first visit due to time constrictions. Thirdly, we wanted to visit Shiwa Ng’andu estate, a mythical and historical place, where part of the contemporary Zambian and European history took place through the life and passion of Sir Steward Gore-Browne. Finally we had to revisit the Luangwa Valley, a world prime destination in Zambia for wildlife viewing.

    Consequently the following loop route came up : Livingstone - Ngonye NP - Liuwa Plains NP - Roy´s Camp - Mc Brides´ Camp - Bangweulu Wetlands Park - Shiwa Ng´andu - Kamukonzo Community Campsite (Northern Luangwa Valley ) - Nsefu Sector South Luangwa NP - Lusaka - Livingstone. A long journey ahead.
    For this the 4th and 6th editions of Zambia Bradt guide (Chris McIntyre, 2008 & 2016) was essential and prime reading. Invaluable information was taken from several trip reports and accounts on this forum, especially from those that take the time and effort to write them up. The Hupe Zambia Road Map (1: 1 500 000), T4A GPS maps/ Base Camp / Google Imagery ( cross Matching) were also extremely useful and essential planning tools.

    On the terrain, and always reliable, T4A GPS maps (installed in a Garmin Montana 610 and Garmin Nuvi 2567) proved essential, useful and accurate. The mobile application was seldomly used, but when needed performed well.

    A trip log with updates was already submitted to T4A in order to assist future travellers.

    The Plan :

    1. Livingstone/ Maramba River Lodge ( 1N)
    2. Ngonye NP/ Whispering Sands Lodge & Camp, Sioma, Western Province (1N)
    3. Liuwa Plains NP / Katoyana Camp (3N)
    4. Roy´s Camp / Central Kafue (1N)
    5. McBrides´Camp (2N)
    6. Forest Inn (1N)
    7. Bangweulu Wetlands (3N)
    8. Kapishya Hot Springs (2N)
    9. Kamukonzo Community Campsite (Neighbouring North Luambe NP) - (1N)
    10. Nsefu/ South Luangwa NP/ Zikomo Safari Lodge & Camp (3N)
    11. Lusaka / Pioneer Camp ( 1N)
    12. Livingstone / Maramba River Lodge (1N)

    The car was picked up with a ODO reading of 101 311 km and delivered with 105 728 km. In total we travelled 4,417km and spent 508,91 lof diesel, averaging 10,6 l / 100km on the road and 17,81l / 100 km on the Liuwa part of the trip (Mongu-Mongu). The total average including Liuwa was 11,52 l / 100km. The price of diesel was uniform throughout Zambia: 14,23 ZMW/ litre.

    1. Livingstone - Whispering Sands

    Touching down at Livingstone International Airport (Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport) was done well before time and we were met by Mr.O, from Hemingway´s and driven to their headquarters for car hand over and re-briefing.

    In no time we were doing our main shopping at Shoprite. Small complementary items that were missing (like bread, 10 litre water jerrycans, couscous, etc...) were bought at Stop Shop just in front, on opposite side of Mosi-oa-tunya Avenue. A reliable and convenient store that has never disappointed us. Meat was previously ordered from Chundu Meat, and was picked up , nicely vacuum packed and frozen from their new front store, down the same side of the road (Heartlands Best).

    Within less than two hours we were on our way to Maramba River Lodge to check in for the night. At reception, we felt that Maramba staff were more alert and adviceful concerning the perils of visiting wildlife on the premises, after the terrible accident of two years ago.

    After getting Manny ready and packed we ate dinner at the lodge and got to bed early, after a longish day. The sound of grunting hippos just charmed us for a peaceful african night. We could not wish a better welcome!

    Breakfast was served at 7:00 and we were the “first in the line”, after a good night sleep.

    At 7:55 we were on the road on our way to Whispering Sands, located just five km south the Ngonye Falls National Park entrance. We reached it in 6hrs:30min and 316 km thereafter.

    Three hours and forty five minutes were spent dealing with the 91km stretch between Kazangula turn off and just before Sesheke. A severely potholed section that listening to NC´s O´Malley´s Bar just did not improve our temporary anxious state of mind. Nevertheless the road is on the verge of being repaired, as we saw at spaces some signs of roadworks but nobody working. It was Monday!

    After crossing the magnificent Zambezi at Sesheke, we started seeing small settlements by the side of the road, with a different organization not seen by us, elsewhere in the country, surrounded by a solid wooden (Zambezi Redwood/ African Teak) palisade with huts marking their corners like watchtowers on a castle and a central main hut to which an entrance will lead to;

    The great river just kept us in company on our right all the way to Whispering Sands.

    Whispering Sands is well signposted to the right, on the main M10. A dirt road led us to the main camp, but no one was to be seen. A world rugby match was on and everyone was at the bar watching it.

    The camp has 5-6 campsites, 3 of them, nicely shaded and a nice lawn to set camp, but no river view. The river view campsites unfortunately have no shade, and can be terribly hot.
    We got CS#1 which was nicely shaded, with power and water points, nearer to the ablution / shower blocks and to the communal braai area. The bar area was a little further away, with a river view. The ablutions blocks are on prefabricated buildings, and were kept nice and clean. Wood was provided free of charge, and we had our first meal on the coals.

    Ourselves and another couple were the only campers. There was another group of people that we believe were on some of their chalets, that misbehaved in the evening, playing some loud music and chatting heavily and abusively.

    We have chosen Whispering Sands mainly for its location next to the Ngonye Falls National Park which was just a mere 5 km away. This was perfect for a night stay-over and still give us the opportunity to visit the falls on our way to Liuwa. We could not decide better and felt very welcome.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Thanked: 208

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    2. Whispering Sands to Katoyana Camp (Liuwa Plains National Park)

    Next day would take us to Liuwa National park, a long day and way to go, and we would still want to visit Ngonye Falls. The day saw us rise early and at 6:45 we were leaving in the direction of Ngonye Falls NP which would open at 7:00; at the front gate, which was still closed, we picked the park attendant and got him a ride to the main office. Succeeding to a nice walk to the Falls, we were on our way to Mongu at 8:02.

    The walk to the falls is nice and fairly easy through some rough, loose rocky terrain. It can give one´s access to a succession of 5-7 falls in a row, which culminates with the main fall downstream. Unfortunately we did not have the time to see them all, and the river was running low. The main falls were seen from behind and thus backlit.

    Just roughly past the one hour duration walk, we were bound for Mongu.

    Bought charcoal on the way and paid 20Kw for a huge bunch, which we had to manage to fit in the car; what a mess. Left some (almost half) behind so that we could close the main bag.

    With just a few kilometers into the trip, and still plenty to go, we noticed a striking difference to our previous self drive in Zambia, just from two years ago : there were numerous roadside stalls selling charcoal. A sad view indeed, meaning that apparently, is one of the main subsistence businesses and that deforestation is on the prowl. We learnt that it is indeed an illegal business with loads being carried to the main cities (Lusaka and alike), mainly at night, in order to compensate for the current common power shortage.

    Nevertheless we witnessed frequent road announcements/ advertisements to replant the forests and grow subsistence crops - mainly maize (Good seed, Pure seed, Zamseed);

    We got into our first of many, tolls in the trip - Lui toll Station — 105 Km from Mongu and paid 20Kw.

    We reached Mongu 193 km/ 3hrs after leaving the Falls. Having re-fueled at Mongu (Suban Plus) we then followed to Kalabo, crossing the once difficult Barotse floodplains that are now easily traversed on the still newish tarred road with impressive bridgework. Tapo was our second toll and in no time we reached Kalabo, 70Km/ 2:00hrs after leaving the fuel station at Mongu.

    At African Parks (AP) office, on the left side of the access road to the pontoon, we met the always helpful Mimi and paid our fees for the next three nights. Getting into sandy Liuwa means deflating tyres which we did (1.6bar front/ 1.8bar rear) before having a break for lunch. At 14.00 and already in Low Range got into the Pontoon (paid 50Kw);

    Pre-requisites for navigation in Liuwa Plains National Park is Low Range driving and a good digital map (GPS). Terrain wise the most challenging portions are still outside the park being the pontoon exit the most difficult with a steep ascent, followed by a deep sand portion until Silanda School. After that, the roads progressively get easier only to be more cautious around the islands where some deep sand can still be encountered. As one gets into the Park the roads get definitely better although still sandy and started to see some sparsely distributed game.

    Navigation wise Liuwa NP is not a easy navigable park. As said before, It is a low range park where timely driving decisions are to be made without loosing momentum on the drive. We were told that the administration has problems with traffic sign planting, because they disappear/ get destroyed/ robbed/ as a matter of people´s retaliation to AP. However their number was not that critical, at least to our selves. What we found, is that their size was to small and with no contrast, so that one just gets to read their contents just a few meters away, sometimes too late to make a decision and not loose momentum on the driving.

    These feelings together with some suggestions were already sent to the Liuwa Tourist office as a feedback from our visit.

    Weather wise, it was a high overcast day menacing some rain, but it never materialized. Reached Katoyana Camp in 2:35 Hrs/ 52 Km after exiting the pontoon, where we were promptly met by Agery - the friend of the world ; Before settling camp, at CS#5, the first thing we did was to get a well and deserved cold drink, after a long day´s drive : 315km/ @ 10hrs.

    Katoyana camp is situated on a forest pocket in the vast Nundu grass plain and served us well to explore the northern part of the Park, being Sikale within a morning drivable distance. The camp has 5-6 spots for camping, being served by a central set of just one ablution block per gender (one female/ one male) which can be too short at certain times of the day or if the camp happens to be full. We had cold and hot showers (solar powered). CS #5 itself is a nicely shaded spot which could easily accommodate 2-3 cars, and a thatched shelter; the ablution block was just a few meters away;

    After dinner we got into bed early and were lullabied by our first hyena calls on a distance!

    The following two days were taken basically with two game drives per day around the area, going as far as near Sikale (Katoyana - Miyanda Royal Pools - Mukalabumbu - Sikale), with minor deviations per day/ game drive. Extensions to near Lone Palm tree and King´s Pool were driven. At King´s pool we just saw cattle and a herdsman. On that occasion we almost got stuck on a bit of cotton soil around the pools. It rained that afternoon.

    In total we game drove 146km.

    Generally, we saw little, predator wise, but Liuwa is not just for wildlife viewing. Being able to be on such a pristine and recovering ecosystem, is a privilege that only a few may have. Nevertheless we saw plenty, like Zebra, Wildebeest , Oribi, Jackal, Hyena, and a whole myriad of birds : Wattled cranes (a first for us), Crowned Cranes, Saddle-billed stork, Hammerkop stork, Fish Eagle, Bateleur Eagle, Palm nut vultures (another first) and more. Wildebeest viewing was best in numbers, towards the north (Sikale and West Sikale), as we could perceive that the herds were starting to congregate and move south with the rains. Nonetheless we did not see any calves.

    In one of the drives to Mukalabumbu, we spoke to one caretaker, that confirmed the herds were still far in the north and with them the whole predator list, including lions.

    Certainly that the best time to visit Liuwa would be at the peak of wildebeest migration around late October/ November/ early December where the whole scene comes together around the herbivore migration.

    On our last morning, and after returning from the morning game drive, we noticed a huge acacia thorn penetrating at the top of the side wall of the LFW which could further damage the tyre. Although there were no signs of pressure being lost and there no signs of any leakage, we decided to fix it which proved wise. Indeed it was a deep 2-3 cm thorn; The tyre was repaired with those tyre repair kits, with no need to remove the tyre. It lasted faultlessly to the end of the trip;

    In the afternoon there was a slight drizzle/ and thunder, and we decided to stay in camp;

    During dinner and while having the meal, we had our hyena in camp, strolling towards us, possibly attracted by the scent of our grilled meat. It was surprised as much we did, and as we flashed the light towards it, immediately backed away, remaining behind the bushes waiting for us to retire to bed. As we moved up to RTT we could sense and listen to her sniffing around. We fell into sleep listening to their antics / calls. A few nightjars joined in.

    3. Katoyana - Roy´s Camp/ Kafue

    Next morning we said farewell to Agery and at 6:25hrs we were on the road towards Roy´s camp in Central Kafue. We had a 417Km gap ahead of us to be filled in.

    The drive to Kalabo was faster (2:15hrs); straighter route ( 41Km), without deviations, on a steady 3rd- 2nd Low Gear pace. The rain during the night and the early departure helped to have a compacted sand and hence easier drive. Next to the ferry though, we almost got stuck trying to choose the best approach to the last dune, due to the varied tracks around. Eventually some kids helped us indicating the way.

    At the pontoon, we had to wait for the barge to come to this side of the margin. Some kids were pulling it by hand towards us. They eventually got some help from a inebriated adult - Reverse - we nicknamed him.

    After positioning the vehicle on top of the pontoon, and the raft started moving forward, a dialogue surged:

    MAN: Reverse! REVerse! REVERSE!
    Myself: why ?
    Myself: But WHY?
    Myself : Why ? All the way back?
    MAN: YES. REVERSE! … a little bit!

    Then we finally realized that he just wanted us to push the car a little bit backwards, as there was to much weight in front of the barge and it could not move forward due to the low water level of the Luaginga River - a Zambezi tributary. It was an hilarious situation that will be kept with us.

    At Kalabo we just re-inflated the tyres, chatted a little with the lady of AP office (Mimi was not in - it was Sunday), and we resumed our journey to Mongu to re-fuel and then to Kafue.

    The road from Mongu to the Mweeke toll station (23km) is fine. After that progressively deteriorates to a deplorable state, for an extension 190km with some good stretches (mainly after Kaoma) in between that one should not be tempted to speed up; After that comes the Kafue park boundary and gate and the road improves enormously with the occasional “normal” pothole for the last 50Km;

    We found Hook bridge still on repairs, and I am afraid, in the same state as two years ago when we visited the area. Nothing much has been added.

    Some rains on the way, but nothing serious; Got to Roy´s at around 15:45hrs-16:00hrs, 417km and 9:20 hrs past our departure from Katoyana.

    Roy´s Camp is a nice camp to use as a base to explore the immediate vicinity of Central Kafue or just simply to overnight. It is based on the Eastern margin of the Kafue with some nice shaded spots to camp. Adjacent to it they are building/expanding their lodge facilities. We were met by Mark, the camp attendant, which showed us around and provided some wood for the night, although we did not braai.
    The camp has some very nice, clean and spacious ablution/ shower blocks, on the “luxury side”, with hot water; A communal kitchen exists, where one can rent for use / cook, or merely use it for dish washing.

    After a long day, a simple meal with some gnocchi pasta and basil sauce was sufficient for the night.

    The afternoon was cloudy and thundery but did not rain; Nice log fire kept us cosy, listening to some hippos and watching some elephant on the other margin.

    While having our evening meal, a leopard barked on nearby bushes in the camp vicinity.

    Wow, what an evening. Beautiful; The night was calm, with the occasional hippo grunts;
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Thanked: 208

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    4. Roy´s - McBrides´ Camp

    At five thirty in the morning our private fish eagle woke us up for a fresh and early start.

    In the morning while saying farewell to Mark, we met Roy, the owners camp. At 6:45 started our drive towards McBrides´. Stopped at Oil bay fuel station Mumbwa, on the M9, at their convenience shop to buy some drinks and water. Then, straight to Mumbwa town - McBrides´.

    Immediately after Mumbwa the D181 road is quite heavily trodden / pot holed until it diverts to Kitumbe mining exploration. After that, gravel runs smoothly and is a pleasure to drive. We stopped for a short break on a nice tree shade after the right turnoff to a main prison facility.

    On the D181 we took the second turn to McBrides´. The track to Camp is a nice bush track, easily driven, which might be trickier on the rainy season (cotton like soil).

    The first turn follows the Mushingashi river, and is indicated on the main D181 by a yellow arrow to the left. We cannot comment on the state of the road as we have not driven it, but it is recommended by Chris.

    It took us 5:05hrs to reach McBrides´, 227km after.

    After arriving we soon realized we were literally the only guests around. We were met by Manny, which led us to main camp to meet Bwana Dr. Chris Mc.Bride, our charismatic host for the next two days.

    While sitting at the living room (the central and main guest area of the lodge) we met Bwana.

    Immediately some coffee/ tea/ water was offered and while seating on the lounge sofa he introduced the camp and its main characters : Lone Ranger the resident hippo, chased away by Pol Pot the master hippo bull from the river pod, and Jasper the resident elephant bull that strolls through camp.

    Meanwhile the remaining Camp team was introduced : Alex (our camp attendant), Angus (an Australian trainee) and Kalila (the boat driver / jack of all trades).

    All of this was chatted while he was feeding his habituated African greenbuls that would come to get either from his fingers or sofa arms little pieces of hard cheese. “ Look how lovely they are! They just love it! Linda come, come…;

    Chris drove us himself with Alex to our camp and introduced us to the facilities around.

    The Camp extends itself along the Mushingashi River, with the main camp with seven chalets spreading along the riverine view. The self-drive camping, set aside from main camp, is at one extremity of the camp with several random spots interspersed within the riverine forest. Our camping spot was comprised of a nice set of clean showers/ ablutions, with hot water (donkey), enclosed on open roof reed sheds; A water basin for dish washing and a thatched space for meals was available. During the day, the camp premises was frequently crossed by resident Bushbucks, and Bohm´s Bee eaters that were nesting on nearby grounds.

    On the first afternoon we had a quite river boat drive with Kalila and Angus. Usually some leopards can be spotted on the lush and mature riverine forest that runs along the river margin, but they have eluded us.

    Nevertheless plenty was seen: hippos, crocodiles, lizards sunbathing, a profusion of water birds/ Ibises, storks…, Impala, Pukus, … and watched the sun go slowly down.

    While having dinner a crackling noise started to be listened which increased in tone. After dinner the crackling was intense.
    At first we thought … “ maybe is Lone Ranger grazing”
    or after a little more attentive listening ….
    “ No, maybe is Jasper feeding “ ;
    Suddenly when we looked up into the sky a huge orange glow was noticed just behind the tree line into the direction of the river.

    A wild fire was going on ! We decided to walk to main camp and tell them. When we reached the main river side road to camp found a huge and controlled firebreak, where all the stuff members were involved, with Kalila as the man that lead the ignition torch and decided where to burn. Within minutes a vast area of dry grass was burnt, and it remained confined to previously defined and prepared areas. What an experience.

    Next morning everything was over, with the occasional incandescent log still burning slow.

    During the night a Puku alarm call anticipated a leopard bark; hyenas called and then two different sets of lion voices echoed, roaring into the night until early morning; On the following morning we had envisaged a morning walk with Chris.

    The day saw us up early, and as we came down from the roof top tent and drunk our morning coffee a Puku herd was just grazing on the plains behind . A pair of tinny Blue Duikers were grazing and running around from one tree mound to the next. What a lovely view!

    We met Manny and then Chris at 6:30-7:00 at the main building. During the walk, a radio transmission came in: the two lions we heard during the night were spotted near spring #1. Alex and Kalila have spotted them. We were then picked up by them and went straight to the sighting. There they were two beautiful young males The Golden Boys.

    Chris was always insisting not to approach too closely the animals, in order to not disturb the lions , as they were newcomers to the area and were not used to cars or people and should first feel confident so that they could “stay” in the area and not be chased away.

    Chis was worried as his Lions are disappearing from the area; A few months ago a big male lion (4YO) vanished from the area, maybe expelled by two newcomers ( 2YO); For 6-8 weeks he has not seen another group of four lions (two males and two females, probably pregnant by the big male). The females were due to give birth in November. Did they move from the territory?, or something worst has happened? Chris suspects for the worst scenario (Neighbouring GMA´s/ poaching/ diversion of animals into the GMA hunting areas, etc..).

    After the walk we just sat with Chris at the living room watching him again feeding cheese bits to his “Linda’s”; Meanwhile Lone Ranger came for his sausage breakfast (“he always does it and then drinks from the bird bath and goes to sleep “ - Chris said). This time he ate three sausages -

    Manny bring a small sausage …;

    And then he just confessed: In here everyday is different. The city is so boring….

    Late in the morning an unexpected invitation for a boat ride came up. A ranger team (4-5 individuals) was due to be transported to its base, up river (past Lunga Island).

    It was a wonderful experience being able to visit their bush camp and have an informal conversation with the rangers.They are permanently on patrol, in hot areas, with reports to be filled-in regularly either at headquarters or even from the bush through satellite/ internet signal. Patrol teams are regularly renovated every 3-4 weeks.

    We found a fully dedicated team, eager to perform their duties.

    For our last afternoon at Mc.Brides´ we had a game drive with Alex and Kalila.

    Chris was worried about those lions . Alex : keep away from those lions. Are you listening to me? Just keep a good distance from them! And so we did.
    We were not able to see the herd of Sable that on previous days has been around.

    After the game drive we met Bwana and Angus at the main lounge and settled our bill. Angus was the accountant on duty. We finally said farewell to both, leaving behind a truly passionate and most knowledgeable gentleman - Bwana.

    On our travels there are three places/ camps that have impressed us mostly : one for its majestic and striking natural beauty - the Namibrand Nature Reserve adjacent to the Namib-Naukluft National Park in Namibia; The other, for their professionalism and passion in guiding without being restricted to the posh safari etiquette : Mdonya Old River Camp, at Ruaha National Park, Tanzania. The third will be certainly McBrides´ Camp, Kafue NP, Zambia, for all the above.

    Sadly we had to move on with our journey, and the next day would be a long one.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Thanked: 208

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    5. Mc.Brides- Forest Inn

    Today would be a long bridging day, i.e., getting from A to B in order to get nearer to our next destination Bangweulu Wetlands National Park. A total of 453 km had to be covered.

    At 6:12 we were on the road, leaving Mc Brides; took the Upper road (third entrance to McBrides´) which leads to the junction of the main D181 at Lubungu Pontoon, which apparently was the quickest way to the main road. It took us 1:06hrs for the 21Km to reach it. Two days before, through the second entrance we made it in 0:42 hrs / 17.8Km;

    Once at D181 we drove the 114 km to Mumbwa in 3:20hrs. Re-fueled at Total station and got on our way to the T2 through the M20.The first 49km of the M20, are tarred and in good condition. Then the following 38 km are gravel, and on the verge of being repaired/ tarred with numerous detours; The road works just cease a few kilometers before getting into the main T2. It took us 01:45 min to make the 38Km;

    Before heading North to Forest Inn we had to make a stop at Fringilla Farm to get some meat we have ordered before.

    We reached the farm at 12:10 and took the opportunity for a lunch break and taste some of their famous pies. They really tasted deliciously good.

    After 1-1:15hrs (at 13:22) we were on the road again towards Forest Inn; As we were running low on refreshments and water, we still had to stop somewhere. We reached and stopped at Kabwe Mall, a nice and modern shopping mall complex in Kabwe that was being constructed two years ago. Nice and well supplied Shoprite.
    We left Kabwe at 15:20 and reached Forest Inn at 17:21, 453Km and 11.10hrs after our departure from McBride´s.

    There was just a group of guided german tourists with two cars on the camping grounds, which we met again at Kapishya and North Luangwa.

    With so few around, we could choose a spot that would suit us best. Forest Inn is indeed a nice transit camping spot with excellent facilities; A communal central boma exists for preparing meals. We were so tired that we allowed ourselves to eat dinner at their restaurant.

    One minor point against, is that one can listen to the cars passing through the T2.

    As we reached the camping area, we could not be better welcomed : a loud and deafening cicada chorus was heard, after a long day driving; we just seated with a very cold beer and enjoyed the sun going down.

    A real bliss;

    6. Forest Inn - Bangweulu Wetlands

    After a early breakfast we were on the road at 6:16 and headed North towards the D41, which we reached within three hours and 224Km past.

    The D41 is in a rough state, as it is now mainly used by heavy trucks to a mining complex neighbouring the further inland Lavushi-Manda National Park. The road is so heavily marked and deeply carved that made us loose the main track (or maybe not), and make a deviation to the right (East) into empty GPS space. We finally joined the main Wakawaka road (D48) to Chiundaponde, taking always the left side track towards the main road.

    At the Junction we noticed that the road south (D41) was blocked by some fallen logs that were purposely put there to block traffic. Maybe the deviation we took is now the main access road.

    It took us roughly two hours to cover these 48 km.

    Then to the main Park entrance gate there were just 38km which we spent 1:10hrs on the D48. The road itself is fine, requiring some attentive driving for some deep ditches. At the gate we paid park entrance fees in cash (car and visitors).

    While I was busy dealing with all paper work “V” was entertaining and being entertained by some local kids. They all became “kind of” Yoga masters in the process.

    Within the park, the roads improve somehow, becoming easily navigable, until one reaches the plains, where the Nsobe campsites are, and the “proper” Park commences.

    Bangweulu Wetlands is a protected area with people allowed to live in, and so, as one traverses it, there are numerous small villages to be crossed with always present pedestrians.

    The cloud of dust that “Manny” left behind was worrisome for the people that were cruising the same path. We tried to reduce speed to a minimum as to diminish the dustbath.

    As we approached the plains we were met by two gentlemen standing next to their sturdy bicycles, and we were said to wait for them at the camping sites.

    They would be part of the group of four camp attendants that took good care of us for the next three nights/ two full days. They all had different duties (water for the showers, camping site cleanliness, and guiding). Godfrey was our guide for the next two days.

    As we entered the planes, on the left there are two small reed huts that would be our ablution facilities (Shower/ Toilet); then, the road just diverts into a myriad of tracks that eventually leads us to some tree islands. These are exquisitely the Nsobe Campsites, under a huge canopy of mature trees. They are numbered by crescent order : CS#1 closer to the ablutions and CS#4 furthest.

    We did not know where to wait. But further afield, on CS#3 there were another group of 4 campers which after some circumstantial talk, told us to wait for the camp team. As we waited the same two men approached us riding their bicycles and we were assigned CS#1.

    Godfrey, one of them, went with us to the Park Ranger office, further ahead, to pay our reminiscent / standing fees for the 3 days to come (Camping and Activities fees).

    The plan was : A Shoebill Expedition on day one and a guided game drive for day two. And so it was.

    Shoebill day - On the following day we woke up unnecessarily at 5:30 and lingered through the morning chores until at 7:30 Godfrey showed up, as previously settled;

    Drove through the plains on some barely noticed tracks. Here very attentive driving is of upmost importance.Some deep holes where a full wheel can fit in, are hidden beneath the vegetation, or following the climb of the small alluvion mounds. One can seriously damage the car.

    We reached our designated spot 21Km after, to leave the car at 8:46 (@1:10hrs after) and walked for another 40-50 minutes to some fishermen´s camp next to the channels. In the process of traversing the area we went through some swampy/ boggy areas that comprise the floodplains, and sometimes our feet would just sink on the soft boggy grounds past the ankle mark. So one should be appropriately dressed.

    A group of 4 fishermen left ahead to look for the elusive stork and 30 minutes or so, one of them came back with a successful sighting and led us to the spot. We followed him through some purpose made channels that are done by the fisherman to trap the fish on the receding floodwaters, until we finally saw a beautiful female shoebill (smaller sized and smaller beak) just standing on the floodplain next to a myriad of reeded channels. We were there for 10-15 minutes observing the magnificent and tranquil bird, and when we finally resolved to get back, it decided to lift off and we happened to experience its gracious flight for a few seconds until it descended further away.

    After a successful and lucky sighting we traced back our way to the fisherman´s camp. A generous tip was given to the search team which they obviously enjoyed and thanked. These fishermen work closely with Godfrey and AP in the search of the the Shoebill, and is one of the ways how they increase their income when the the fishing business is low, and probably not turning to other ways of earning their lives. In fact, AP visitors to the park that stay at Shoebill Island Camp/ Lodge, use the services of Godfrey and of the same team.

    After that we traced our way all the way to the car and back to campsite. It took in all around 6 hrs and 41Km altogether; Saw the ubiquitous Black Lechwe, and Zebra on the outing.
    The camp attendants just offered to wash our expedition shoes which we accepted. We took the afternoon to relax and enjoy the scenery, people transversing the park towards the several fisherman settlements around the floodplains or coming back from them.

    Next day was guided game drive day with Godfrey.

    At 6:30 we were out with Manny on the floodplains towards the rangers office/camp where the airfield sits.
    There was some unusual activity around camp at that time of the day, and we were told that some poachers (bushmeat) were caught and were in the process of being transported elsewhere.

    We headed first Northwest and then Northeast. Saw hundreds / herds of Black Lechwe; Went to visit the Shoebill Island Camp / lodge an stayed there for a couple of hours enjoying the views and observing the wide array of waterbirds (storks, geese, ducks, etc…) and Lechwe that came in successive waves, crossing the channels and drink to the nearby lagoon;

    There were no guests at the lodge but they were expecting some later in the day.

    We drove 42Km and spent 7 hrs approximately; While driving on the plains a fine and powdery dust forms. It gets everywhere. We spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning and dusting off the car.

    Late afternoon we said farewell to our helpful and delightful team and left with them some small offerings we brought along from home (clothes, etc..) which was really appreciated.

    Except for the first night, we were the only ones camping at Nsobe and possibly Bangweulu altogether.

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Thanked: 166

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    Thanks for a great report and photos Apfac.
    Looks and sounds like you had a great and memorable trip.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Thanked: 1008

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    Thank you very much, apfac, for this excellent trip report. What a great trip you had to the lovely Zambia.

    Asante sana!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    East London
    Thanked: 3737

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    Apfac, I was as excited as a child to find a fully blown trip report with great photos. Looking forward to the rest. Thank you.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report from post 315.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Thanked: 208

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    Thank you Sam M, WW and Stan for your kind words.

    The next two installments will complete my report for this trip to "Lovely" Zambia.

    Last edited by apfac; 2019/12/22 at 05:08 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Thanked: 208

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    7. Nsobe - Kapishya Hot springs

    Kapishya Hot Springs and Shiwa Ng´andu was our next much expected destination and a total of 285Km had to be covered. So we left early as usual, and decided to take the Lavushi - Manda National Park Road.

    The Great North Road (T2) was reached within 4:20hrs, 142Km after.

    The road through Lavushi - Manda is a pleasant gravel road and easy to drive. Apparently is the road that is currently being used to get to and from Chiundaponde/ Bangweulu. Although we have not driven it, we heard that the road Kasanka - Wakawaka (D47) is in a deplorable state.

    Both Park gates (Lutimwe/North and Fibishi/South) are completely abandoned, and apart of a snake that crossed the road we did not see any other animal. While traversing the park we could notice a few indicating plates to some campsites, but the tracks leading out were completely overgrown.

    We reached Mpika in one hour, and made a re-fuel /re-stock stop. We could not find any bottled water in large containers (5L or 10L). Finally someone advised to look at GM Store & Suppliers. Glad we did it. We found a nicely supplied shop and finally bought our elusive water and some refreshments for the trip.

    Mpika is undertaking a major road work repair. We resumed our journey to Kapishya through the T2/ Great North Road 40 minutes later and stopped for a quick lunch stop, in which we ate samosas bought at Total fuel station convenience shop and some tasteful bananas from the street vendors.

    After Mpika, the GNR is severely potholed at places, where sometimes a whole truck can fit in. Being attentive to the vehicles in front can help to anticipate it!

    We reached Kapishya within 2 hours, 117km after Mpika. The road through Shiwa Ng´andu estate is a good to fair gravel road, pleasantly driven through an indigenous mature forest.

    Descending the hill towards the Manor, along the airstrip, with the lake down as a backdrop, we just thought how (much more) beautiful this should have been at the beginning of the 20th century, in its pristine and raw state. We now understand Sir S. Gore-Browne attraction for this far flung, remote peace of land. Passing through the small settlement that nests at the base of Shiwa House, with small little brick houses still erect, crossing the double-arched stone bridge over Mansha River, one can just sense the effort spent in developing the land.

    At Kapishya, we went straight to reception, and were met by Mark Harvey (Sir Gore-Browne´s grandson) which immediately gave us instructions to the Campsite.

    As we reached the camping grounds, the place was literally crowded. There was a long weekend and the Rugby World Cup quarter finals were on.

    We were referred to CS#7, just next to the ablution block, but fortunately away from the main crowd, which we preferred. The movement into the ablution block, really did not bother or disturb us at all.

    Late in the afternoon, and without asking, wood was provided for our evening braai. Chicken it was.

    Next day we just lingered around, went to the fabulous springs in the morning and had lunch at the restaurant (ramen). For dinner we grilled rump steak which was delicious.

    8. Kapishya - Kamukonzo Community Campsite

    We left Kapishya early in the morning towards South Luangwa with the feeling that our journey had just started descending towards “home”.

    We had to split the journey somewhere, and either Kanunshya Community Campsite or Kamukonzo Community Campsite would be our overnight targets. Learning that Kanunshya Community Campsite was no longer available, Kamukonzo Community Campsite became our primary target for a overnight. Its convenient location close to the northern entrance of Luambe National Park was perfect to split the journey.

    Chifunda Community Campsite was also considered, as a third option, but was to “close” to our departure point and we would like to stay closer to South Luangwa. Besides we had already been there previously, coming from South Luangwa and heading to Kasanka.

    At 6:00 AM we were on the move, absorbing the exquisite morning smells, sounds and the golden light that Shiwa Ng´andu had to offer. A rather fresh and different view from what we had experienced on the way in, tired from a full morning drive.

    We reached Mano gate, North Luangwa NP , within 2:10hrs and paid our transit fees ( 25USD p.p + 25Kw for vehicle). This was a first for us as we really do not recall paying it two years ago. Probably is now just standard procedure, or it just depends on who is seating at the gate!

    While crossing the park, southbound, down the escarpment, beautiful views of the valley bellow could be glimpsed. On the way we crossed our paths with elephant, and in the valley itself, we came across a true special sighting : a Racket-tailed roller.

    In approximately three hours (62 km past Mano gate) we were at the Luangwa River crossing point, but the pontoon was not operational due to the low water levels. Although we were at the height of dry season and thus normal for such low levels of water, we could sense that this year was abnormal and the effects of the southern drought were being felt higher up in the country.

    While accessing the situation, we soon saw a gentleman crossing the river, running towards us, in order to assist us and indicate the way. Then we realized that there was a very well marked track on the deep sand river margin that led to clearly delineated river crossing site. There were wood poles outlining the river cross path. Pang´ono ndi Pang´ono.

    In the process we gave the gentleman a lift to Chifunda community camp, place from which he came from. At Chifunda Community Campsite control point we were met by the same ranger from two years ago. As soon as we introduced ourselves and remembered him of the dry fish parcel we took to his family at Mano Camp two years previously, he just clicked and a all open smiling face just shone, as he recognized us : Yes I remember he said!

    They would be certainly expecting us to stay but unfortunately the plans were to move on, further South as outlined. A generous tip was left to the Community representative in order to compensate for our “abstinence” and for all the trouble they had to help with the crossing.

    We just hope that the german group we met earlier at Forest Inn and came across NLNP stayed at their camp and help the Community. These Community campsites should really be helped, for various and obvious reasons. Their strategic location, at the periphery of the buffer zones that comprise the several GMAs bordering the NPs may greatly assist on conservation. Apart of their vigilant effect, is also a source of income to the local population and certainly helps to perceive us tourists/ overlanders as a source of income that value their wildlife, rather than turning to other ways of wildlife exploitation.

    By the time we left Chifunda Camp, we looked for our most sought-after spot for a lunch break. Exiting Chifunda one just comes across a little stretch of luxurious, cool and vibrantly beautiful mature mopane forest, which on a hot day, as it happened to be, just came as a perfect spot to stop.

    Regretfully we had to leave this little gem and proceed southwards. The journey down was uneventful and beautiful ; We passed two check points that we do not remember their presence two years ago : the Lumimba GMA check points (entrance Kazutu )/ exit Zokwe); They are both clearly marked on T4A.

    A few kilometers (16-17km) after Zokwe, we turned right to a track giving access to Kamukonzo Community Campsite, which is clearly marked by a road sign next to a village. We turned into empty GPS space. The track was not marked on our last edition of T4A (ver.19.05); While preparing the trip, we had it tracked through Google Earth and was spot on. It is a very good dirt road through Mopane forest. As we started approaching the river some animal activity started to be noticeable.

    We reached Kamukonzo at 15:36 (3:30 hrs and 112 km after the river cross) and were greeted by Wilson, a young and helpful nice man. We were the only ones in camp and latter wood was provided for our evening grill and for a good fire that kept us in “good” company;

    Kamukonzo was one of the highlights of the trip. It is a rather beautiful camp with superb views to the meandering Luangwa river. Seating in camp and witnessing all wildlife activity by the river is just stunningly beautiful : Waterbuck, Puku, Impala, Sacred Ibis, Pied Kingfisher, colony of Bee Eaters, Vervet Monkeys …;

    The camp spreads itself under the shade of a beautiful and mature river forest, and is serviced by a nice and simple ablution complex (showers / European style flush toilet). A separate shed with a long drop exists. There is a central communal /Bar area with a fridge where one can buy cold drinks.

    Rights of exploration of the camp was given to the Chitungulu Community.

    Contacts - Mr Wilson - +260 - 95 7845867 / +260 95 468 88 36 (both Zamtel);
    Rates 150Kw pp./ night; 30Kw car without trailer/ with trailer 40Kw; all data submitted to T4A;

    Again, during the night we were entertained by grunting Hippos, calling Hyenas, trumpeting Elephants and by some Puku alarm calls.

    Sadly, next morning we had to leave this little piece of heaven. We slowly exited camp at 6:26 through the southern approach road, directly to Chipuka gate at Luambe National Park. A beautiful road through mature Miombo forest, predominantly Mopane. A pure bliss in the early morning hours;

    It is our firm feeling that Kamukonzo will serve as an excellent base to explore the recovering Luambe National Park just 7-9 km away.
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    Last edited by apfac; 2019/12/23 at 01:00 AM. Reason: spelling

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Thanked: 208

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    9. Kamukonzo Community Campsite - Zikomo - Nsefu - South Luangwa NP

    Initially we had planned to explore the main Mfuwe section of South Luangwa NP, as on our previous trip we did not have the time to explore it properly.

    However, as the jaunt progressed we had this vague idea of staying again at Zikomo, Nsefu section, as we liked it so much before. The main reason for this sudden change of plans were that we were in the middle of two consecutive long weekends, and probably the main Mfuwe section would be busy with tourists.
    Further, our previous experience at Zikomo proved to have other favourable points : calmer ambience, smaller camp, direct entrance to the park, a lower tourist density at Nsefu section pairing with high wildlife sighting opportunities. So while at Kapishya we contacted Zikomo for a possible camping vacancy which materialized. And again, we could not have decided better, and I guess, Mfuwe will have to wait for another occasion. At least we will have a valid excuse to return!

    We reached Chipuka Gate within 25-30 minutes after leaving camp at 06:26. We did not have to pay any fees as we were just transiting the Park.

    While checking in, a deployed ranger approached us and asked for a lift home; He was a young man on his late twenties/ early thirties which had just finished a long working period at camp; He told us that they have several patrolling teams that are regularly and continuously swapped for three week periods in the bush. With this they have managed to lower poaching considerably, and increase wildlife numbers. And we could sense that, the amount of wildlife seen while cruising the park was substantially higher. Now, poaching is mainly for bushmeat he told us, but other forms of poaching still exist, mainly if they lower their guards down.

    We dropped him just before crossing the Lukuzye river.

    In minutes we were checking in at Chikwinda Gate SLNP. On game drive mode through the park, we decided to go straight to Mfuwe, before heading to Zikomo.

    With the approaching long weekend (Independence Day) diesel availability could be a problem. Wise decision; as we arrived the only fuel station in Mfuwe was packed with cars waiting to fill-in. We had to wait for approximately one hour as there was only one diesel pump.

    We headed back then to Zikomo and reached camp 148km and seven hours later.

    While setting up camp we noticed that the fridge was not working and it happened to be one of the the hottest days we felt in Zambia, well above 40ºC. The need for a cool drink was much appreciated either being water or the coolest beer we could get. After getting our thirst quenched, we tried to see what was wrong with the fridge.

    After running a mental flow chart, hence some progressive elimination and some fiddling with the circuitry and two sets of batteries, a conclusion was reached that a bad connection existed at the back of the fridge, within the main carcass and it had to do with some “shorted” earthy connection; we left it for a more professional look but left the equipment without the protective outer metal grid, as it worked well without it. Of course that some help was received from the chief mechanic at the lodge, especially with the supplying of the second battery, for tests.

    An intermittent contact was sufficient to keep us happy with cold drinks, as we would not need any longer to keep the meat frozen. The meat supply was finishing. Lucky us!

    All of this took us the whole afternoon to solve, and so we had to skip our afternoon game drive.

    The night was one of the hottest nights we got in Zambia with temperatures well above the 25ºC .

    During the night apart from Hyena calling we heard two different sets of Lion roars, that appeared to be coming from the park across the river and as well from this side the Lupande GMA where Zikomo is located.

    Wake up call (our private Fish Eagle) at 4:45 and noticed that the fridge has worked all night. Good, as the day would be again, a scalding one.

    At 6:00 we were entering the park through the direct route that led into the main road. We were on for 55 Km long morning game drive. We went directly to Chichele springs and progressively came down slowly.

    Around 10-10:30 we were back at camp with temperatures already soaring.

    Apart form the usual suspects, we were very fortunate to get to observe some wild dogs (3 having a break under some shade); we stayed with them for a few minutes, before continuing to explore the park;
    Before heading back to the Camp, we stopped at the gate to pay our fees for the next two days.

    At camp we visited the lodge pool and plunged ourselves into it. What a pleasure.

    We were out for the afternoon game drive at 15:30 and got back around 18:00; 65Km driven;

    Invariably with such hot weather, heavy and thundery skies did build up threatening rain, but never poured; The game drive was a normal one in which we saw plenty, like Eland, Hyena, Elephant, Puku, Impala, to name a few.
    As we entered the GMA, on our way back, there were three young fully grown male lions, with full bellies resting at the top of one of the gullies of the oxbow-lake that Luangwa River (Lungas) provides; apart from us there were two more cars around, one from the lodge with the guide and one female guest, and another commercial vehicle which we did not recognize the branding and with a strange name, with 5-6 people wearing some camouflage clothes, some standing, others seating at the back of the opened Land Cruiser. As it was Independence day next day we thought they were some local visitors with some guests visiting the park.

    Next day would be the 24th October - Zambia´s National Day - the 55th Independence anniversary. It was actually the second time we commemorated Independence Day in Zambia. Two years ago we had the same experience, at that time traveling from Lusaka to Livingstone on our way back.

    We left camp around 5:45 AM and got back around 10:30-11hrs, after a 65 km drive; Unfortunately it was a sad and disturbing game drive.

    We exited camp slightly earlier expecting to see those lions from the day before as they were full bellied and certainly would be around that same area the following morning.

    And we could not be more certain. As we approached the area, we slowed down scanning the area for the lions. We noticed that the same strange vehicle from the day before was already there, off roading, on top of the gully bank; When they saw us they just approached us.

    First the driver, in good manners, came to us and told that we could not be there, which we found very strange as we were on the road that gives access to the park and every one that comes out of Zikomo comes through that road.

    As we were speaking to the driver there it comes this individual with a smartphone (definitely smarter) in wrist, filming the whole scene, and in a very bad manner shouted : “YOU ARE RUINING MY HUNTING; PLEASE MOVE THE VEHICLE “ ;
    ….and we politely said we were on our way to the park and …;
    He just interrupted our speech and shouted “REMOVE THE VEHICLE “.

    After saying to the individual that “ nobody speaks to us that rude “, we just proceeded to the park.

    I wonder if they were ever successful with the hunting but the perception of having one or more of those three young males, at their prime, lost for human vanity and stupidity just putted us off the game drive.
    Indeed money does not buy everything…;

    During that morning it was good to see several safari cars with lots of school kids enjoying their game drive, probably for most , the first one. They were really enthusiastic and well mannered. The guides as well, doing a extremely good job, as they were actively showing the place, including taking them to a lion sighting at Chichele springs.

    At this sighting there was a pride comprised of two grown up males and three females, one visibly older than the other two. The older one was collared, and probably was the same one we had spotted two years ago with four cubs. That sighting and the thought that maybe the lioness was the same from two years ago and that eventually the young females were some of the cubs we saw, elevated our spirits for the day. We will never know if that is true or not (probably not), but we preferred to leave thinking that way!

    We then drove calmly down to camp, enjoying our last morning game drive.
    We reached camp longing for a cold one when we noticed that the fridge had stopped working, but for our luck, just recently. A few giggles and started working again for the remaining of the day.

    After that deserved beer we threw ourselves into the lodge pool, and enjoyed seeing a puku herd calmly grazing on the banks of river, just a few meters away. What more could we ask for?

    During the afternoon the weather deteriorated considerably, with some tempestuous clouds building up which culminated with several cloud bursts and wind gusts and some heavy rain.
    Even so, we tried to do an afternoon game drive, but the roads became almost impassable, no matter which way we would choose. We just drove for 26Km and at 5:15 we were back at camp, as we did not want to push it on our last day, and still had two heavy days of driving ahead of us, towards Livingstone.

    In total we game drove at Nsefu 183 Km and as always it was a success. This time the famous Luangwa leopards eluded us.

    10. Zikomo - Pioneer Camp Lusaka

    Leaving South Luangwa meant we were definitely returning home and the holiday was approaching the end.

    Yet, we would have two very heavy days of driving ahead of us. The first part would be Zikomo to Lusaka (Pioneer Camp), a 679 km drive in 10:49 including two short stops : one for re-fueling at Petauke (Total Station) and the other for Lunch, 92 km after Petauke and before starting descending to Luangwa Bridge.

    The road from Chipata is now complete until the bridge, and has been funded by the European Community and its of a good standard. After the bridge is severely potholed for about 20-30 Km; Then it ameliorates slightly, with the occasional pothole, where once again one should not be taken by the improvement of the road : some potholes are deep enough to fit more than half a wheel inside.

    On the first stretch between Chipata and Luangwa Bridge they are constructing two toll stations.

    At Chongwe Toll gate we paid again 20Kw, 14 km before turning to Pioneer.

    We decided to stay at Pioneer and not risk to cross the city to Eureka as previously planned. The thought that next day would be Saturday gave us some tranquility that probably the Lusaka traffic would not be too heavy. Further we were completely exhausted from long drive.

    Turning to Pioneer from GER came just before the police check point, to the left. After 5.5km on manageable gravel we were at the entrance gate and went straight to reception.
    We were given the choice to pick the best spot to camp for the night, as there was ample space. We picked #4. Ablution facilities were acceptably good and clean. Nevertheless due the frequent power cuts, there were no lights, but we managed with our head lamps hanging somewhere.

    After the long drive we allowed ourselves for a dinner at their restaurant and turned in early.

    We still had our final and second long run to Livingstone in front of us.

    11. Lusaka - Livingstone/ Maramba River Lodge

    We exited Pioneer at 6:00AM expecting to reach Livingstone for a late lunch, 487 Km and 7:10 hrs later.

    It took us 1:06 hrs to reach Shimabala Toll station at the another extreme of Lusaka. Traffic was a breeze. For that we took an alternative route that Garmin and had both suggested: avoiding central Lusaka. We took Addis Ababa Rd - Independence Av. - T2.

    At the 2:40 hrs mark we had reached Mazabuka. The Turnpike - Mazabuka section is being repaired and the initial worst section is already repaired or under repairs which was a good improvement, comparing to two years ago. After Mazabuka the road improves considerably with the occasional pothole.

    On the T1, and 15 km before reaching Livingstone a “new” toll station is being built which we do not remember being there in 2017.

    On the way to Maramba we stopped at the Golden Leaf to book a table for dinner.

    Tried to go for a sundowner at Royal Livingstone but was closed due to a convention being held.

    We had our sundowner at Maramba River Lodge before heading for dinner at the Golden Leaf.

    That is it. Hope everyone enjoys reading it as much I enjoyed writing it up.

    Wishes for a Joyful Season, to everyone.


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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Simon's Town
    Thanked: 274

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    Thanks, a really great, informative report with good photos that took a lot of effort. I have to agree with you, NamibRand is excellent, as are walks with characters like Chris McBride and Mark Harvey.
    2015 Pajero 3.2 LWB
    Bushwakka Sundowner No. 31

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Thanked: 1008

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    Thank you, apfac, for giving pleasure to so many of us on this forum with your excellent trip report and wonderful photos. What a great trip you had. As we expect from you, a well planned and well executed safari!

    Like Stan, I too was excited to see a proper trip report. Trip reports seem to be coming as rare as hen’s teeth...

    Happy Christmas.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Thanked: 137

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    Very good apfac! It was nice to meet you at camp Zikomo.


  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Thanked: 208

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    Thank you Malcom, WW and Juha S.,

    @Malcom - indeed, walking or simply having a conversation with Chris is always gratifying. The simplicity and character of McBrides´Camp makes it unique.

    @WW - writing a report just makes us revive our experiences and will certainly be a tonic for a fading memory, later on...; Thank you again for the kind words.

    @Juha - Hope you had a fantastic trip and excellent photographic opportunities !


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Thanked: 17

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    Thanks for an excellent report. I was at Zikomo in November for four nights. (not camping). Being the very end of the season just before the camp closes I was the only guest so enjoyed a private vehicle and guide. Thoroughly enjoyed the stay. Talking to management while there I understand a new campsite opposite to the side of the current campsite may be on the cards. A larger and somewhat upgraded site perhaps, with its own pool and bar. I wish them success. Sorry to hear of your unpleasant brush with the hunters. I can easily see how that may ruin your day.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Thanked: 447

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    Thank you apfac for a great report. You just re-ignited an urge again that somewhat died down. Great trip you had.

    "In nature, nothing is on order - appreciate what you do get to experience" - Myself
    Defender 90 TD5 - BL Boskriek
    Namibia Trip Report, Kaa Wilderness Trip Report, Wildcoast Trip Report, Botswana Trip Report, Kgalagadi Trip Report, Lesotho Trip Report

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Thanked: 447

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    Quote Originally Posted by challgren View Post
    Talking to management while there I understand a new campsite opposite to the side of the current campsite may be on the cards. A larger and somewhat upgraded site perhaps, with its own pool and bar. I wish them success.
    This is good news.

    "In nature, nothing is on order - appreciate what you do get to experience" - Myself
    Defender 90 TD5 - BL Boskriek
    Namibia Trip Report, Kaa Wilderness Trip Report, Wildcoast Trip Report, Botswana Trip Report, Kgalagadi Trip Report, Lesotho Trip Report

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Thanked: 208

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    Thank You Challgren and Frans 90.

    I think these will not be good news for us campers. From what I was told, they planning to expand their bungalows along the river margin, hence with a river view. From 2017 to 2019, two more were added. So, I believe, that the camping site will be taken for this purpose, and will be moved up , next to the lodge worshop, with no river view.


  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Thanked: 449

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    apfac, muito obrigado for another detailed and entertaining report, it was a pleasure to follow your adventure. Your photos are outstanding and I especially like your panoramas of McBrides camp and black-and-white photos.

    Have a merry Christmas with your loved ones!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Thanked: 208

    Default Re: Zambia 2019 - Trip Report

    Thank you Anne W.

    I understand you are on the verge of a Kenyan adventure. Please do enjoy it.

    Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New 2020.


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