Zambia revisited

We never expected to return to Zambia, but nevertheless were looking forward to the new route with its new experiences.

About 330 kilometers or 4 hours from the border to our overnight destination, Kapishya Hot Springs campsite, in the north of Zambia. We set off without further delay.

image

Many overlanders had raved about Kapishya. A pity that we could only spend one night there.

image
We could have spent the whole day in the pool. The 39 degree temperature was like a hot bath that never got cold!

Met Mark, the owner of Kapishya, and his wife Mel.
Mark is the grandson of the founder of Shiwa Ng’andu Estate where the hot springs are located.

image

We had supper at the pub restaurant and spent an interesting evening chatting with Mark about the history of the Manor House. We also heard about the many overlanders that have stayed there including the controversial Kingsley Holgate who distributes mosquito nets throughout Africa. So many ill informed people condemn him for doing that. They say the nets are used to wipe out fish. What rubbish! The lives of thousands of children are saved each year by them not contracting malaria.

image

Shiwa Ng’andu Manor House has become well known through the best-selling book “The Africa House.”
It’s an English manor house, set on the Shiwa Ng’andu estate.

image

Complete with red-brick gatehouse, clay-tiled roofed workers’ cottages, a long approach avenue, formal gardens

image

Livestock, a lake, wild game and even its own chapel! Solveig was thrilled to find pigs there too.

The house is an extraordinary testament to the determination of its founder, Sir Stewart Gore-Browne, and is filled with memorabilia and historical records. The detour of 40 kms from the highway to Shiwa Ng’andu on gravel was definately worth it. A must do visit for anyone passing this way. Stay for at least 3 days.

560 kilometers to our next overnight stop, Forest Inn campsite. We met Paul who also chatted about travellers that had stayed at Forest Inn on their way to various wonderful places in Northern Zambia including North Luangwa game reserve. We have just got to come back one day to explore them for ourselves.

The next day we stopped at Frigilla near Lusaka and had delicious pies for lunch.
image

They too had a basin to wash your hands before and after eating.

Bought 2 litres of Wild Honey on the roadside. Ginty, my cousin from Lusaka, does this when in the area. We stopped in Lusaka for diesel and a few things then continued to The Moorings.
We have often passed by the Moorings and not stayed there because we had arrived too early while on our way to or back from Lusaka. We’re glad to have camped there this and time will in future try to include a stopover there.
Another day over having travelled 450 kilometers in six hours.

A great pity we were rushing and not able to enjoy more of the new route with all it had to offer. Zambia has to be one of our favourite countries we visited. So much to offer the tourist. It’s reasonably priced, and the people are so warm and friendly. We’ll be back!

Only one more day left in Zambia! Had lunch in Livingstone and tried to contact Tickey without success. We had to arrange where to meet up with them.
Only 200 kilometers to Katima Mulilo, but we remembered the previous time on that road with its terrible potholes!
We knew it would take long to reach the border. To help pass the time on our slow, careful drive, we played very loud music while Solveig shouted out “pothole on left, pothole on right” to guide me through. It was fun and time passed quickly.
There was a Land Cruiser on my tail the whole way and I wished it would pass, but he was carefully following my path through the potholes and obviously did not want to lead the way.

The date was Friday 13th. Full moon. As we crossed the Zambezi bridge to the border post the sun was setting over the river on our right, while the full moon was rising out of the river on the left. Stunning!!!
We were hurring to get to the border before it closed and couldn’t stop to take pictures! What a disappointment!

We were processed on the Zambian side in record time! The gates to Namibia were being locked by the border police when we got to the other side! We couldn’t get into Namibia! So we had to spend the night in no man’s land!

image

We met the occupants of the Land Cruiser in no man’s land. John and Tickey Rutherfoord. They too had not made it through.

A string of coincidents were to follow….
The Rutherfoord’s were ex South Africans living in Australia, back for their daughters wedding, and doing some overlanding while in Africa. They asked where we were from. We answered. Said their niece had lived in Gordon’s Bay before moving to Dar-es-Salaam. It had to be Kerry Livito!!! What a small world.

We couldn’t leave our car with Hilton and Kerry while in Zanzibar…..They were at a wedding in Gauteng! The same wedding!

The Rutherfoord’s were driving a Bushlore Toyota CruCam with a pop up roof. Exactly the same as the one I had enquired about.
image

If I decide to buy one from Bushlore I wonder whether it will be this same vehicle? Probably!

We had breakfast in Katima Mulilo and tried to contact Keith and Ticks again. We left a message and departed for Camp Chobe where we’d stayed before with Max, hoping to meet them there.

image

We met them at the entrance to Camp Chobe.

image

Max was out for the day with clients so we continued on into Botswana…..

Sadly….. Destination Changed!

Later the same night while staying at Karen Camp and after purchasing the tickets to Oslo online I received a Whatsapp from Belinda, our friend and business partner. She was concerned about us all being away from South Africa at the same time with us now planning to be in Europe while she was in Australia visiting family for three weeks during July. Business was slow because it was winter.

As mentioned in our previous blog, we’d been getting subtle messages every now and again about the timing of our journey through Africa.
The first warning came as far back as in April when our rental tenants let us down by informing us that they had to return to England for medical treatment. 9 months before their lease ran out! This would have a major impact on the financial aspect of our journey.
Then the visa and carnet problems, the political situation in North Africa, the suspended ferry service between Egypt and Europe, the bombings in Kenya….. Now this!

Our credo is Its about the Journey, Not the Destination that really mattered.

After we discussed this latest development in the morning, we decided to cancel the tickets we’d purchased the previous night. Fortunately there were no problems doing so.
A month to go before we needed to be back, still lots to do in Nairobi and Kenya and have time to also enjoy our trip home.

Nairobi had so many sides to it…
image
A modern city.

image
An African city.

image
And a unique city.

We’d seen adverts for a Masai Market being held on the rooftop of a shopping centre and went to see what it was like. Solveig is always on the lookout for something we can sell in our shop.
The craft was good but nothing new. There are so many people from Africa selling their craft in SA that it has to be something very special.

We found just that at Marula Studios near to Karen Camp. They are doing the most amazing things with old washed up slip slops!
image
Everything you see above is made from recycled flip flops!

On the coastlines of Tanzania and Kenya as well as Zanzibar, there is a problem of littering being caused by the ocean currents bringing flip flops in their thousands from the rivers of Malaysia and India and dumping them on the beaches. While we were in Peponi each morning workers were on the beach raking up the debris. Even clothing was dumped on the beach by the currents!

When we got back to camp later that evening we saw a familiar Land Rover camped next to where we’d left our things. There was nobody in sight so we had an early supper and went to bed to plan our return trip further.
We got up early the next morning and just knew that it had to be Scott and Helene parked next to us. We called out to them and they joined us in a lovely reunion. We caught up with all their news and likewise. They’d had quite a bit of trouble with their car in the Serengeti with the very bad roads. Severed their brake hydrolics and broke both rear springs! They were angry with the general state of the park considering the absurd park fees they’d paid.
We left Karen Camp and said goodbye to Scott and Helene. They too had decided not to continue further northwards and were returning to Cape Town to ship their car and fly home to England from there. We hope they stay with us in Gordon’s Bay a few days.

Went to say our goodbyes to Karen and Vishal and spent the night at Devan’s once more. That night there was a terrific storm. We were grateful to be sleeping indoors. A huge bang followed by lots of sparks woke us. It was repeated a few more times. Very scary with all the bombings in Kenya! In the morning we foundt that during the storm a branch had fallen across high voltage cables and shorted, causing the bangs and showers of sparks.

On our way home!
We were both despondent and not talking much.
Border crossing no problem.
Still no sighting of Kilamanjaro. Under cloud as usual!
image

Passed this cyclist and passenger on the way. Spot the child inside the tyre!

Near Arusha the T4A GPS routing took us on a short cut through farmland, passing many coffee plantations on the worst road imaginable. Every now and then it’s done that. Probably the settings. I allow dirt roads to be used when it plans the route.

We stayed at the Meserani Snake Park again. When we got out of the car the spare wheel was at right angles to where it should have been. The bracket was almost broken off completely! Must have been the shortcut!
I went to BJ, the owner of the camp, and asked if I could bring the car to the workshop the following morning for the bracket to be welded. He said he’d seen us coming in with the spare hanging and wondered if I’d come over. The Snake Park has a wonderful workshop where they carry out repairs to all 4×4’s and to the big overland trucks too. Next morning he repaired the bracket and refused any payment.

Meserani Snake Park, Arusha, YOU ROCK!

We’ve met so many wonderful people on this trip who go out of their way to help out, lighten your load or just offer friendship.

When we undertook this journey we could not have guessed what would make the biggest impression. Would it be the animals? The landscape? The towns and villages? The different cultures?
We now realise that the most significant and unexpected outcome has been the contact we’ve made with wonderful people. It has been a life changing experience!

We needed to have laundry done as well as doing a bit of shopping. There was a laundry near Shoprite.
image
They were dismantling the signage!

What a surprise! Koos had told us the group wasn’t doing well in Tanzania but we had shopped here only a month ago!
Had coffee, something to eat and went online while waiting for the laundry.
Met another couple, Rob and Dee. This time from Colorado. Got chatting and found out that they had bought their Hi Lux camper from rental company, Bushlore, in Cape Town. They had done this before when travelling in other countries. Sold the vehicle when they were ready to go home. This saved them rental charges which could be astronomical for long stays.
I had seen a very well fitted out Land Cruiser Troopie with pop up roof from Bushlore and was thrilled to hear that they sold them while still almost new.
Our Patrol has been wonderful on this trip but we could do with more space inside to at least make some coffee when it rained. For the first three months it rained 2 out of 3 days! I sent off an email to Bushlore immediately to enquire. A CruCam as it’s called would be for sale in April 2015. We’ll see…

image

Visited a local market across the street.

image

There were lots of other things there too.

image

After collecting laundry went to Cultural Heritage Village
image

We still needed to buy groceries. Went to the Sable Centre and found this.
image
Birdfeeders made from Baobab pods!

And this Masai jewellery.
image

We bought some for the shop at the Waterfront.

The Sable Centre is a classy place which looks more like an Insurance company Headquarters than shopping centre and has a good view of Mt. Meru
image

Back at the Snake Park we met up with Rob and Dee again who were also staying there and chatted some more.

Early start the next morning for Dodoma on a new tar road built by the Chinese. Lots of beautiful scenery on the way.
image

There wasn’t a campsite in Dodoma so we stayed at the Nam Hotel. Only R180 for the night. Couldn’t often camp for that price. Very good value, it included lovely room, bathroom and shower en suite, DSTV, breakfast for two and a car wash!
Continued along the Chinese tar road with occasional detours to Iringa the next day. We stopped at the Old Farmhouse campsite about 50 kms beyond Iringa for the night. We were the first to arrive and chose a site that had a Lapa where we could set up our kitchen and eating space under shelter.
Later while relaxing with a drink I noticed someone looking around the back of our car. OMG I exclaimed. It was Pam Stallebrass! Solveig shrieked and shouted Pam, Pam, Pam! We could not believe our eyes. What are the chances of meeting up with one of your best friends at a campsite in the middle of Africa?

image

They thought we were further north and never let us know of their plans and we did not even know they were travelling. Joe ran over as he thought something had happened to Pam. We spent a wonderful evening together catching up on news.

The next day they went with their group to Malawi and we set off to Utengule Coffee Lodge near Mbeya. We camped at the same site we had stayed in before. Met a couple travelling in a nicely fitted out Land Rover with a pop up roof.
One of the advantages of travelling abroad is that you get to see so many amazing camping set ups from other parts of the world. The coffee beans from Utengule are of the nicest we’ve ever tasted. Although both of us are “coffeeholics” we regretfully only bought 1 kg.

The border crossing at Tunduma took awhile. There were so many trucks crossing it was a bit of a nightmare. We had a long way to go to our overnight stop as we were trying to catch up to Keith and Tickey as soon as we could. Consequently we were travelling further each day than we normally would. Fortunately the road in Zambia was in good condition and there were no more speed bumps!!

Our Journey continues

We were extremely fortunate to be hosted by Karen and Vishal in their wonderful home in Lake View, Nairobi . We parked our vehicles and slept next door with Devan, Vishal’s brother, who had a more spacious garden.
Karen is the daughter of a very good friend, Paula Quested, from Observatory back home who was visiting Nairobi at the same time. It was great to be surrounded by so many people we knew after so many months on our own.
Keith just couldn’t wait to get off to play golf with Devan the next day while the rest of us went shopping and purchasing Kenyan shillings with our US dollars at the ABC centre, a real shopping centre! We met and chatted to the proud owners of an amazing fruit and veggie shop,  the likes of which we had never seen in South Africa. After an expensive lunch in a posh restuarant we went back to Lake View, all of us together in Keith and Tickey’s van.
The next day we went to a Craft show in the suburb of Karen named after Karen Blixen of “Out of Africa” fame who had lived there on her farm.

image

Paula’s daughter, Karen, had a stall at the Craft Show for her bags  with the brand name “Tamu”. Visit her website at http://www.tamu.co.ke to see her beautiful product range.
Another stunning lunch was enjoyed by all at Tamarind,  a nearby restuarant in a beautiful garden setting. Nairobi has, like Johannesburg,  another side to it… A world class African city, different to anything we’d yet seen on our travels.
Nearby was the Giraffe sanctuary. We had to take George to see his relatives closeup!

image

We went off on our own to visit the various back packer and over lander campsites with the hope of meeting up with other travellers going north. We wanted to join in convoy with them on the difficult road that lay ahead. On the way we stopped at a roadside Masai craft stall.

image

We visited Jungle Junction, Karen Camp and Eco Wildebeest camp in search of the fellow  travellers. No such luck. There were no such travellers! The negative messages that the British and US embassies were putting out had brought the travel industry in Kenya to its knees. There were reports of 60 thousand workers connected to the travel industry in one way or another that were effected. The current problem of bombings in Mombasa, and the resultant unfortunate deaths is a reality but the danger to tourists is not to the scale that the embassies are reporting. 
Some travellers we had encountered were having problems of getting through on the usual routes. They were shipping their vehicles to Dubai and continuing via Iran. Some were returning to Walvis Bay or SA to ship to Europe from there. A couple we were in touch with had got to Alexandria in Egypt but were held up there because of no ferry services operating due to the lack of travellers and security situation.
We decided to visit the embassies never the less and start the quest to get our travel arrangements sorted out for further travel to the north of Kenya. We needed visas for Ethiopia, Sudan and Europe which we were not able to get earlier in South Africa as they  had to be validated within 90 days of issue. SA passport holders do not require a visa for Egypt.
So into the traffic we went!! There were more roadside stalls on the way.

image

We were prepared for hectic traffic by our encounter with traffic when we’d first arrived, but it was worse than we’d ever thought possible. I had to adopt the same driving style as the locals or I’d still be sitting in the chaos….. just push in while smiling at the other drivers! It took forever but we progressed… Pole, Pole, as the saying goes….slowly slowly! 

image

While sitting in the traffic jams we were able to admire the pavement nurseries selling gardening requirements on the side of the roads. From beautifully laid out plants, to garden gnomes, ponds, fountains and everything else you can imagine.

image

The Ethiopian embassy only processed East African applicants, so we needed to send our passports back to SA to a visa agent to apply on our behalf.
The Sudanese required a letter from the SA embassy in Nairobi confirming our status. We obtained this from a really helpful South African official without difficulty.  He did however say that he was not happy that we wanted to travel further north.
The real problem was with the Norwegian embassy. They no longer processed visa applicants themselves. They had handed everything over to an agency because of all the new requirements in obtaining a Schengen visa. Biometrics are now mandatory and it could take weeks to obtain the visas as they would have to send our passports to SA. We only had a month before we had to leave Kenya or have  our stay extended and we would have to have our passports with us to do that.
The next stumbling block was our car. We had to visit the AA to acquire a carnet du passage. The AA is in the south of Nairobi near the airport. Suddenly Nairobi was no longer a First World City but a mud hole of dongas, filth and tracks filled with potholes. It took us over two hours to travel the 17 kms!

image

On the way there we witnessed the Maribou Storks living in the city near to the waste dump.

image

Unbelievable! We eventually arrived at the AA at closing time but the wonderful staff still attended to our enquiries.  We were there about 1.5 hours and told we had to find between R80k and R120k to obtain our travel carnet. We were highly upset but decided to sleep on it before making the choice of what the best plan forward would be.
We needed to have our car serviced and checked over so we booked it into Vishal’s cousin’s garage.

Keith and Tickey needed to get back to SA for Keith to attend to business matters. Before leaving for home they decided to visit the Equator. We were sad that we were not going to continue exploring Kenya with them. There was so much still to see and do. Up to now we had only spent time in and around Nairobi. But the next day they said their goodbyes and left for the South.
There was a long weekend coming up.  We chose to wait until the following week before continuing with our visa and carnet arrangements.

We also took off to spend the weekend at the equator and rift valley near Lake Nakuru.

image

We took photos at the Equator in the rain to prove we’d been there, done that, but didn’t get the Tshirt!

image

Had lunch at the Trout Tree restaurant near Nanyuki. Check out their cooling system for the drinks!

image

Found Colibus monkeys there too. Solveig just had to take pictures to prove the similarity!

image

Camped at Batian’s that night at the foot of Mt. Kenya.

image

A beautiful treed campsite, American owned, which specialised in educational and outdoor adventure tours for American  students.

image

We met a young assistant there, also from America, that made some delicious cinnamon buns which she shared with us. So special.

image

The next day we dropped down into the rift valley.

image

A most beautiful mountain pass with spectacular views.

image

Crossed the equator a few more times,

image

image

both north and south, en route to Lake Nakuru.

image

Lake Nakuru is famous for its flamingoes, but park officials advised that there were very few because of the water level. The campsite we planned to stay at had been incorporated into the game reserve and  was very expensive with the park fees added in.

We had made the decision earlier on not to waste our money by paying the massive fees for the East African Game reserves with their shocking infrastructure and bad roads. We are blessed with so many affordable, well stocked and well managed reserves in Southern Africa, where we can visit conveniently anytime. There is so much else to see that is different from home in Central Africa. The landscape, the people, the mountains and trees…..

We asked where else we could stay. The park officials kindly directed us to a very reasonable community run campsite and resort, Kivu, nearby. 

image

We returned to Nairobi via a different route through the Rift valley and decided to stay at Karen Camp. We had spent most of the weekend examining the various options for us to continue our journey to Oslo.

The overland journey was fraught with problems. We felt that we probably could make the trip as far as the Mediterranean, but then what? We needed to know that we were not going to be stuck in Egypt with no way out but to return via the same route we had entered. That had no appeal as it would mean we had to do the difficult part twice!

Shipping the car from Mombasa to some European port was very expensive and we still had to ship it home again at the end.  And how long would it take? Then there were also the airfares to add to the total. We crossed that option off too.

Option three seemed the most plausible. Return to Arusha where we could leave the car safely. Fly to Oslo from Kilimanjaro international airport.  Greet the family members in Norway and backpack to France to visit Sven, Anka, the Brands and the remaining Norwegian family in France. Fly back to Tanzania and drive home. We would also have enough time in hand to get our Schengen visas in order.

We were so excited! We’d also get to Europe in their summer. We bought a backpack to see whether we could fit all we needed to take with us before buying a second one. That night at Karen Camp and with a good Wi-fi connection I purchased the tickets online.  The next day we would go to the visa agency in Nairobi and apply for our visas!

Posted from WordPress for Android