314 km Kalambo Falls to Kipili, Tanzania
7 049 km trip to date
From Kalambo Falls in the north of Zambia, we had to go back down from the mountains to Mbala on the M3 “old great north road” to get to the Tanzania border. This old great north road had always stopped at Mbala. Until a year or two ago, there was no office at the Zambian side (Zombe border post) and the paspoorts were stamped in Mbala town. There is a small office now. This border is not used frequently, as the frequency of entries in the register shows approx 4 vehicles going through per week. The road turns bad 6 km away from Mbala at the turn-off to Kalambo Falls and we averaged between 15 and 20 km/h until we reached the border. We had to wait for the officers to be fetched from their nearby homes. But the border procedures were smooth. Our Carnet and passports were stamped and vehicle register filled out, and off we went.
The Tanzanian side was even worse – Kasesya border post. We waited half an hour for the officials to be fetched from their homes. Documents were stamped, and for the first time on this trip an official wanted to inspect the contents of the vehicle. We opened the one side clothes box and the rear door and he glanced it over and was satisfied. Total time spent at both borders was an hour.
Our travels through Zambia really were hassle-free. We never encountered anyone who remotely suggested a bribe or who was not extremely friendly. We were waved through police check points more than 40 times. The ones who did come to the vehicle greeted us, asked where we were from and where we were going to, and then wished us well. We always felt safe. Our vehicle was safe in any parking space where we left it. What an absolute pleasure to visit Zambia!
Once in Tanzania the scenery immediately changed. Larger areas are deforested and the farming is much more intense. The villages are more structured into towns – bigger and much further apart. Even the building style is different. More corrugated iron roofs and clay bricks – less mud and reeds used for the houses. Lots of cattle in much larger herds.
In Sumbawanga we looked for a Vodashop to buy a sim card and data, which is extremely cheap compared to the RSA prices. R300 for 20 GB data for one month.
Sumbawanga is also a large town, very busy and colourful and full of taxis – 3-wheeler tuk-tuks imported from India or known as Bajaj in Tanzania.
Once we left the plato and tarred road, we travelled through a beautiful Miombo woodland reserve down the escarpment to Kipili.
Kipili is a small village on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. And Lakeshore Lodge is just outside the village.
We are surprised every time about how long the drive is for a short distance. We spent an hour at the border and 45 minutes in Sumbawanga, and excluding this, we were on the road for more than 7 hours (314 km).
Run by former South Africans this is a great place to visit. The water in the lake is crystal clear with abundant fish – one can see them swimming from the shores. This spot is also bilharzia free. The Congo (DRC) is visible across the lake from this side and fishermen in small boats are fishing with nets.
The campsites are under huge old mango trees, with ripe mangoes falling around us all the time. Ablutions were perfect with attention to small details.
The last evening we shared dinner (a 3-course chef prepared meal with fresh fish from the lake and South African wines) with our hosts and another guest at a table on the water’s edge – lovely experience. This lodge definitely is a place where one can relax for more than 2 nights.
Next: towards Ruaha National Park…