Day 19 – 21: South Luangwa to Lusaka to Kasanka

Distance:

709 km South Luangwa to Lusaka

537 km Lusaka to Kasanka NP

5 807 km trip to date

We took on the long road back to Lusaka. We had considered taking the Route 05 through South Luangwa to the Great North Road, but decided against it because it started to rain. Road 05 is a two spoor track through the Luangwa plains with cotton mud, with no bridges (only sandbags to cross rivers) and then up the escarpment to the Great North Road near Mpika that apparently is a hair-raising experience. This route would shorten the distance to Kasanka NP with roughly 700-800 km, but it is just not worth taking the risk as we are travelling alone with no back-up.

The trip to Lusaka was uneventful and slow as expected – another 11 hours for the 700 km – with broken trucks, police checkpoints, and the usual goats, bicyles, children, chickens…… but the upside of driving slow is that one sees so much. We could really appreciate the day-to-day actions of the locals along the road:

  • Small farmers working their fields by hand – whole family busy working to prepare fields for planting
  • A few have ploughs drawn by oxen
  • Near the towns people going to market with produce or going home with building materials bought in town
  • Small towns have carpenters making chairs, beds and doors along the road using hardwood (looks like teak)
  • People leaving their produce next to the road with nobody to watch over it – there seems to be mutual respect for each other’s possessions
  • Lively, colourful rural towns
  • Broken down trucks in the road – the use of warning triangles is law in Zambia, but they also have the custom of breaking new green branches from nearby trees and to line that up in the road before and after the truck.

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Branches to indicate broken truck

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Furniture factory
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Police checkpoint
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Lively scene in Chipata

In Lusaka we camped at Pioneer Lodge again, and discovered the one and only electricity point available for campers right in the middle of the camping area next to the center campsite tree. As we had an overcast day and not much solar power charged via the rooftop panel, electricity was welcome. We fuelled up and stocked up at the Great East Mall PnP, as this is our last chance to visit a big store and then took the Great North Road (T2) from Lusaka. We also felt more save in Lusaka than anywere in Jhb or our hometown. Lots of traffic – cars and taxis – but NO aggression or impatience or hooters or shouting. There is absolutely nobody just hanging around.  It is very different from what we normally experience at home. There is a friendly, relaxed and tolerant atmosphere everywhere.

We camped overnight at Forest Inn near Mkushi town approx 280 km from Lusaka which is halfway from Lusaka to Kasanka. Driving time from Lusaka was more than 4 hours for 270 km. We needed a shorter trip after the previous day’s 11 hours on the road. Forest Inn is right next to the T2 with electricity, hot showers, communal braai, partial shade and the noise from the passing trucks did not disturb us.

The Great North Road is a good tarred road without shoulders, but with the one big truck after the other. Unbelievably busy road. This road goes to the northern Copperbelt Province (mining area) and splits off after 200 km to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania (nearest harbour). Cars take dangerous chances on these roads by overtaking the trucks even if the oncoming traffic is almost on them. We cringed several times as we saw accidents just missed. The weird thing in Zambia is that one sees many heavy truck wrecks and dislodged containers along the road, but almost no passenger car wrecks. After driving this road we can almost understand why – the cars take chances, and the trucks have to break heavily or swerve to prevent a collision. The loads of these broken or damaged trucks are also NOT looted, and covered by tarpaulins while waiting for recovery.

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Great North Road traffic

The fruit stalls are still along the road, with water melons, honey and wild fruit such as wild luquats.

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Honey for sale

The T2 runs along Miombo woodlands on the higher region and we saw people along this road selling giant wild mushrooms, some as big as a car’s steering wheel. Upon research on the internet we found that this mushroom is part of the staple diet and is consumed by the locals to the quantity of 30 kg per person per year. The mushrooms are largest edible mushrooms in the world – Termitomyces titanicus mushrooms – and grow wildly at the beginning of the rainy season in Zambia – November to end of January. Google says they can be as large as one meter wide on a stem of more than 50 cm high. We decided that if eaten in those quantities it will not harm us and bought some. We sautéed it in butter with salt and pepper and it was so nice that we bought some more the next day – we had no adverse effects.

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Giant mushrooms

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Watching the locals transporting their goods on bicycles was quite entertaining – they sure know how to handle a bicycle.

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Fuel transport

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Live goat

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Bulk mangoes

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and this one was the ultimate…
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Where we are now…

Next: Kasanka and the bat migration…..

3 comments

  1. Alles lyk so awesome, baie dankie vir die deel van julle rit en avontuur… ons bid vir julle veiligheid op die besige paaie.

    Like

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