Shortcut to South Luangwa




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  1. #1
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    Default Shortcut to South Luangwa

    I write this thread because people sometimes ask me for advice about the shortcut from Petauke to South Luangwa National Park. Recently we drove this shortcut for the first time (strangely we do not visit places close to us, or at least not often)
    There are two roads to get to South Luangwa National Park. We drove both roads. We went with the shorter road and came back with the longer one.
    1. The shorter (but slower) road is through Petauke, North to South Luangwa. From the Great East (T4) you turn off to Petauke (about 420km from Lusaka). You drive through Petauke. You'll pass ZANACO bank and Petauke hospital. After that you'll see a gravel road going to the left. There is a sign which says: Ukwimi Refugee Camp. Take that road. This road is in a reasonable condition and for about 50km you can drive at about 60km/h (be alert for unexpected holes and bumps). After about 50km you'll see a sign which says Marula Lodge and a road going to the left. Take that road. If you are unsure, ask the locals - they are friendly and willing to help (if they can speak English). From here the road is quite bumpy and most of the time you'll drive in 1st and 2nd. You cross a few rivers and you will need 4x4, but it is not impossible to drive. But you must be patient. Keep the windows closed, otherwise the tsetse flies will bother you. We drove with a 2.8 Colt D/C 4x4 (no modifications) and the aircon didn't work So we drove with open windows (it was hot!). Suddenly the vehicle was full of tsetse flies - closed the windows, grab books and magazines to hit the tsetse flies (and each other in the process). The total distance from Petauke is 180km and it took us 7 hours (including a stop to break). It was a good experience, and if you don't know rural Zambia this is an opportunity to see it. Preferably one must go with 2 vehicles, especially when you don't know this area. Most of the time there is no network for cell phones and not many vehicles are travelling on this road (we did not see even one!) The condition of road changes after every rainy season, so I can't say how it is going to be next year
    2. The longer (but faster) road is over Chipata. You pass the Petauke turn off and keep on the Great East to Chipata. The first 180km (from Petauke turn off to Chipata) is all tar and takes about 2 hours. From Chipata to South Luangwa is about 30km tar, but the rest is gravel which is not too rough. This can take about 3 hours (depending how fast you drive). At the moment they are tarring this road, but it will take some time before they finish it. The total distance is about 320km, and like I said 5-6 hours of driving.
    Hope this helps. Travel safely!

  2. #2
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    Hi Heinrich

    Thanks for this info. We planned on travelling the shortcut on 08 September 2010 towing our Explorer caravan.
    When did you travel this road and what were the depth of the water in the river crossings
    Johan
    Toyota Landcruiser 70 SW
    Jurgens Explorer II

  3. #3
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    Default

    Done the short cut as well - far better but easy to get a bit lost! Luckily we were with friends from Zambia who know it well.

    And South Luangwa is awesome!

  4. #4
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    We did the shortcut the end of July. All the river crossings are dry; you will just drive through the soft sand. The road is also indicated on T4A and is quite accurate. Some places there is a diversion or detour (because this year's rain) and that is not indicated on T4A. But T4A will still help you to keep the direction. And like I said; ask the locals if you are unsure.

  5. #5
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    Thank you Heinrich
    Johan
    Toyota Landcruiser 70 SW
    Jurgens Explorer II

  6. #6
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    Hi

    I am planning on doing this trip on my bike (with passenger) early January. Has anyone been on this road during this time of year? Any comments on rivers and condition of road?

    Henrich-- You said it took about 7 hours, did you take an easy drive or was it about the maximum speed you could have done? just wandering if that day would be too long for us

  7. #7
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    I spoke to someone (a very experienced overlander in an 80 Cruiser) last week who took 10 hours to do this route. I would take it, therefore, that 7 hours would be an absolute minimum. They did say that it is really lovely, and one of their favourite roads in Africa, and after all you aren't going this way to get to Sth Luangwa in a hurry. Take your time and enjoy it!

    Mike
    "A poxy, feral, Brit architect who drinks bad beer and supports the wrong rugby team." Tony Weaver

    "Mike for President" Freeflyd

  8. #8
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    Hi

    I did that trip during September towing the off road caravan - took me 7.5 hours including three stops. I would not do the trip in the rainy season with the caravan
    Johan
    Toyota Landcruiser 70 SW
    Jurgens Explorer II

  9. #9
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    A fantastic adventure was our June 2008 route from Wildlife Camp through South Luangwa up the Muchinga Escarpment by crossing a number of deep rivers including fear- inspiring Mutinondo on the way to Mpika, Shiwa Ngandu and Kapisha hotsprings. Great sightings of wild dogs and massive numbers of tse tse flies which we fought ever so sucessfully with our electronic fly swatters. (Never leave home without them)

  10. #10
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    The road cannot be done in the rainy season. The rains starts in December through to April and that road should be avoided.

  11. #11
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    Default Three Routes to Mfuwe

    1. The shorter (but slower) road is through Petauke, North to South Luangwa.
    2. The longer (but faster) road is over Chipata.
    3. The quickest is through Msoro. Although this should be treated as a seasonal, dry season route. July-November or when the rains start

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