Published: August 5th 2011August 1st 2011
Next morning we were up early and walked to the bus stop to take a long distance bus (we had reserved tickets the day before) for 85000 Kwatcha each (about $17) to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, its also the transport hub of the country. At the time of writing it was about 4800 Zambian Kwatcha to the Australian dollar but we always rounded up to 5000 for ease of counting. Lusaka is busy and dirty and not very nice!! We arrived in the afternoon and walked to Flintstones backpackers (previously kumoboko backpackers) and stayed the night there in an overpriced room (150,000Kw) that only had a bed in it, plus the bathrooms next door had no shower or hot water. We needed the internet and dinner so we asked where to go and they told us Arcades. We took a 30,000Kw taxi (very standard rate) to Arcades shopping mall and found it was awesome!! We used the internet for over an hour then had an nice (but pricey) meal across from the cinemas. It was too tempting and we ended up watching the part 2 of the 7th harry potter! The tickets were only 15,000Kw($3) per person!
back to the hotel late and crashed into bed. Next morning we had a full on day in Lusaka. We went to the Tanzania high commission and got our Tanzanian visas which meant we had to return at 2.30 to pick up our passports. Then we went to Manda Hill shopping centre to try and find a tent and things for camping since it looked like that was the cheapest way to see the national parks in Zambia. We had a look in Shoprite then in Game and found a $44 tent that looked up to the task, but all the mattresses etc were very expensive. We walked to Arcades which was just down the road and had a look there and settled on buying 2 cheap but thick blankets from PEP to use as mattresses. We had a lunch of bread rolls and cheese then used the internet again before shpopping for camping at SPAR. We took a cab back to the high commission at 2 and got our passports back with $50 visas inside and went back to the hotel. We then got advice on where to buy a cheap saucepan and walked to a market place at
on the night drive at Kafue
around 4.30 when everything was closing up for the day. There were a lot of shops selling some of everything and finally we paid 21000Kw for a medium sized saucepan. (so about $4). We had wanted to go to an ATM on Cairo Rd, the main road in Lusaka, but we werewalking along and passing between two parked cars when a guy blocked the way ahead of me apolagising loudly while a guy came up behind me to pick my pockets, I slammed my hand down by my sides and Dario saw what was happening and did a big push on both men so they fell back away from us and ran off empty handed. Phew!! After that we walked briskly back to the hostel stopping at an ATM closer to home at a BP. We asked if there were any hotels nearby with wifi and they took us to a restaurant where we used the wifi and had amazing T-bone steaks and a few beers to wind down.
Next morning we got up early and took a bus heading to Mongu with half our gear packed in my bag for the camping and the rest in storage at
the hostel in Dario´s bag. We got off the bus halfway to Mongu at the Kafue national park at Hook Bridge. We had organized a pickup with Kafue Camps ($30) and they were there waiting in a safari vehicle when we arrived at the bridge. We had a mini safari on the way back to camp (about 10km away-5km from the main road) and saw lots of Impala, Puku and birds. We were soooo lucky, as we were dr4iving down the dirt road to camp, a cheetah crossed the road infront of us about 100m away, then ran off into the undergrowth!! We didn’t have time to get binoculars or a camera out so just watched as it went away. It was very exciting! We arrived at camp and signed waivers etc then they took us to our little campsite next to the river. We were all alone for a few hours until a south African couple pulled into the next site over with their strange 4x4 that looked like a tank! The view over the river was awesome, with big crocs on the other side and Puku grazing and hippos in the river. We were told that if we
needed to go to the toilet at night we should always make sure we are properly awake and have shone the torch out at any animals that may be there. Elephants, lions, leopards and hippos wander around there at night, but most will wander off quietly. We organized a night game drive and left on the drive at about 5pm. The drives at kafue camps were excellent and only $35 per person. The 2 guides we had with us were excellent! We saw elephants and hippos grazing on the banks and lots of game such as Puku, bushbuck and water buck. At sunset they parked us on a little hill and we cracked open our complimentary beers and watched the sunset on the beautiful park… in fact the second biggest national park in Africa! After sunset we drove for a few more hours and spotted nocturnal antelope such as the shops graysbok (I have to check the spelling sorry). And we saw 2 Gennet cats, technically not cats though, but very cute with big ears and lots of spots, we also saw a white tailed mongoose. Unfortunately we didn’t see any big cats. At one point we had to wait
for a big bull elephant to vacate the road, but it took about 5 mins since he was happy eating.
We arrived back at camp and someone had lit a fire in our fire place which was nice ( we had set up the tent earlier with a guy who works there, so it was probably him). We cooked dinner in our new pot, rice, tuna and canned veggies in a yummy curry sauce and of course some chocolate for dessert. We cleaned up and made sure there was no food lying around to tempt anything for a visit then walked to the ablutions block nearby, on the way spotting a few impala walking past, freaked us out though since all we saw for a moment was the eye shine really close to us in the light of our torches. There was no electricity so it was all torch light.
Next morning we had organized for a morning game drive so they picked us up at 6.30 and off we went… unfortunately we only made it about 3km away from camp before the safari vehicle died and would not start no matter how hard the guides tried, to make
it worse the office wasnt replying on the radio. Luckily the south African couple drove past at that moment and took one of the guides back to the office to pick up the mechanic and get another car. The guide asked if we minded doing a walking safari instead and we agreed (the other safari vehicle was in for a service, the car they brought was to tow the broken one with). Off we went walking with our guides. It was great fun, spotting the different tracks on the dirt road, all the news from the night before, Gennets, baboons, leopards and cheetah and lots of hyenas too. We went off road after a while and saw loads of cool birds and game as well. We walked through dried up mud holes where we could stand with both feet plus extra space in the foot print of an elephant… even Dario could! We heard alarm calls from bushbuck but arrived too late to see the leopard (the guides found the fresh footprints in the clearing) so sat down for 10 mins and had some tea and biscuits. We continued walking until we were back at camp, not spotting anything much
else on the way, but chatting about conservation and animals in the park and seeing scratching posts of the elephants next to mud holes… in one tree covered with mud we found the claw marks of a leopard marking its territory! Cool!
That day we organized a drop off at the bridge for 11.30 to flag down a bus heading back to Luskaka. We didn’t want to leave though, it was so peaceful there. We paid the bill (and accidently got overcharged $30 and only noticed on the way to the national park office where we had to pay the entrance fees… so the driver paid for the $30 entrance fee to cover us and the overcharge and claimed it back at the office) and after doing all the national parks stuff we got dropped at the bridge. We chatted to the police there since it is a permanent check point and shared the resdt of our chocolate while waiting for a bus. It was the same conductor as the day before. We got seats up the back and settled in for the couple of hours back to Lusaka. Dario made friends with a guy called Innocence and his
daughter Patience in the back seat.
We arrived in Lusaka, picked up our bags we left at Flintstones and headed to Broads backpackers where we had booked for the night (nicer place) we stayed in a dorm of 12 comfy beds. We bought our tickets to Chipata after getting off the bus from Kafue (we went to chipata next day) and took a taxi to Arcades to buy more camping food. We ate dinner there too, cheap pizza. Then had to repack our bags for 3 days camping, so used Dario´s bag since its bigger. We had to repack everything outside on the patio of the dorm since half the dorm was already in bed when we got back. That night we slept well until a drunk guy came in (he was actually sleeping in our dorm) looking for a girl name karla or something and woke us all up coz he kept getting too close to all the girls in the room to see if it was her, Dario woke up to me saying no im not karla and he pushed him away from my bed, but it all settled down once he woke up properly and understood
the guy was looking for someone. But after an hour of this sort of behavior at 2 in the morning all the guys in the room had had enough and told him to shutup and sleep it off. We had to get up at 5am to catch our 6am bus so crept out quietly and ate muesli for brekky in the garden. We took a cab to the bus station, boarded the bus and then sat until 8am before we left (it’s a time bus which means its supposed to definitely leave at the time specified and they usually do… ish). After a long 7 hours or more I think, we made it to Chipata in eastern Zambia. On the way we had stopped for a toilet break (women one side in the bushes, men on the other) and there was an included beverage, a coke or similar and a packet of biscuits each which we hadn’t expected but was nice. From there we piled into a dilapidated minibus with all locals except one Chilean who we sat next to in the front (we didn’t have seat, we sat ong the ledge behind the driver on a piece of foam…
very uncomfortable) and a Czech woman sitting right up the back, almost folded in two!
The ride was very very bad! The road was bad, the vehicle was bad and the driver was bad… plus we got overcharged, even though we haggled it way down from what the other tourists had paid. We left Chipata around 4pm and arrived just after midnight in Mfuwe village where we had to get a taxi to take us to wildlife camp, the lodge we were staying at. We arrived just after 1am and met the security guard who took us to sign in then drove us to the campsite nearby. We pitched our tent where we could find a spot (there were two overland trucks there with loads of people tented) and ate dinner since we hadn’t really eaten since brekky and fell asleep. We woke up at 8 to lots of commotion outside, the game drive trucks were driving off with people. We got up and headed to the bathrooms and had brekky then moved everything over next to the river (which we didn’t know was there) where there was a fire place and a beautiful view. Next to us were
2 4x4´s with the tents on the roof. We met one of the drivers who was from Melborune, works with her hubby in Dubai and had shipped their vehicles over to south Africa to drive north to Kenya then go home again, wow!
We did washing then headed to reception to see what was up for activities. The tours are $45 each person plus the national park fees of $25 per person per day, so we opted for only doing one drive, a night drive on the night we had to leave for Lusaka and they would waive the transfer fee to the village and would just drop us there after. So we spent the next 2 days lying by the pool overlooking the river that was full of hippos and crocs and birds, and watching the game and the elephants wander on the other side of the river. It was very relaxing. All the food we ate we cooked ourselves, and occasionally accidently shared it with some monkeys who ran off with a bun one day. There were also baboons stealing food, but not from us. There were loads of germans and dutch there during the middle of
the day when they weren’t off on a game drive (all from the overlanding trucks). Another place that we didn’t want to leave. But we packed everything up on the last day and (after taking photos of the frogs in the showers) got on the evening game vehicle with a dutch family who had turned up in a big 4x4 the evening before and an American woman. We all got on very well and enjoyed the game drive. South Luangwa national park is one of the best spots to see leopards and cheetahs, but we saw none we saw hyenas and elephants and had a similar experience with a bull elephant as in Kafue, we turned a corner and almost ran into him! We wandered off quickly though. We stopped on the high bank of the river to watch the sunset with complimentary drinks and popcorn, and watch the hippos down below in the water start climbing out for their nightly feast. We saw a fish eagle too. The rest of the drive was good, lots of elephants and hippos and zebra. The zebra here are different to your normal plans zebra, they are smaller and the stripes don’t
have brown between then like normal ones, they don’t have a white belly or legs, they are striped like the rest of them, so it was great to see. Apparently if a zebra is sick you can tell because its short little mane doesn’t stand up straight.
At 8pm they dropped us in town and everyone else in the car was laughing as they saw us having to deal with all the louts trying to get us into their minivan, I think they felt sorry for us too. The choices were (for the same price, 60,000Kw) the same van we were in before where the door nearly fell off, the brakes stopped working at one point and the driver is bad, or a very new looking van with comfy seats, and we were the first patrons. The bags went in the boot, not tied on the roof and the driver seemed like a lovely man, his wife and baby were travelling in the back so it seemed like a safer bet. We went in that one. We still had to wait until about 10pm to leave the village after driving around picking people up and cramming 4 across each
row, but it was still not uncomfortable. About half way to Chipata a tyre exploded and Dario got out to help (by holding a torch up) and said it literally was shredded, with a piece wrapped around the axle. Luckily we had a spare, I don’t think the other van had had one. We made it to Chipata at around 3am, and got on the 5am bus to Lusaka. We got the last 2 seats but weren’t sitting together, but a nice gentleman changed seats with me so we could. We slept as best we could. We arrived in Lusaka around 11am and wearily got off the bus and walked to Tazara house, just down the road to buy our train tickets to Dar es Salaam on Friday. We bought a whole first class cabin (4 beds) so we didn’t have to share for the 48 hours (at least) it would take to get there. We then walked to the hostel via an ATM and got our other bags and clean laundry we had asked for (eureka!) and hustled over to Lusaka backpackers for a hurried lunch since they were the only place close by that had wifi, then took
a taxi back to the bus station at 2pm to take a bus north to Chingola. We only did all this travelling to fit everything in to make the train on Friday in Kapiri Mposhi. The bus ride to Chingola was bad! We ended up sitting together which was good. But as we arrived in Kapiri Mposhi (at this point we were supposed to just be passing through to get further north to Chingola) the bus broke down and we sat on the side of the road in the middle of the night surrounded by people selling bananas and peanuts with the closest toilet luckily not too far away and I was so thirsty! We have a habit of not drinking much on bus rides to avoid desperation for a toilet at some point, but we hadn’t had much water all day! We also have a habit of one of us always remaining with the bags while the other goes to wherever. In this case I ran off to the petrol station nearby, paid the 1000Kw to use the bathroom and bought some chilled water that tasted amazing, probably only because my body craved it! Got back to the bus
and Dario and I dozed a bit and he went and bought peanuts and bananas for some dinner. Finally after a bit of trial and error we were off and everyone loaded onto the bus again and off we went. Finally we arrived in Chingola, barely awake after sleeping on the bus a bit- Chingola is a mining town, copper mines run all over the disctrict. We got a taxi to a guesthouse we had heard of but they were full and directed us across the road to another. We paid 200,000Kw for a room with a connecting bathroom and had showers after more than 24 hours travelling we needed it, then fell asleep instantly. Next morning we were up early, I think just from habit and had a mediocre brekky for 20000Kw each, bacon and eggs and toast, but they ran out of bacon for me so had an extra egg, plus baked beans, yuk! And it was all cold! We watched a but of Up since it was on the TV. Then packed up and walked to the nearest road to take a taxi to a place called voyagers to see how much it costs to hire a car for 30 hours.
It turned out to be about $420, way too expensive, so we arranged with the same taxi driver to take us to Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Project, 70km away and back again for 700,000Kw. We first stopped at Shoprite since we knew we would be camping and needed food, then off we went. We paid him half the money so we could fill up on petrol. After about an hour (the last 15km was a bad dirt road) we made it to the office. They directed us to the orphanage to see Sylvia the woman in charge. Her mother Sheila and father (recently died) set up the place 28 years ago as a refuge for orphaned chimps, originally it was a farm, and parts of it still are a cattle farm. We spoke to Sylvia and she had a massive blow at the taxi driver (Ken) for overcharging us, it is apparently only 500,000Kw, so we split the difference and said we would pay 600,000 not the 700,000 we had arranged initially. Then we arranged to see the feeding which they were about to do and she said for us to just stay in a caravan next to the house for the same price as camping and since our driver didn’t want to drive back to town and come out again he paid to sleep in his car at the campsite. There were about 6 young women from various places in Europe who were all on their last day of volunteer work at the orphanage so we helped by taking photos of them all together. We followed them all to the bachelor pad… where all the big males live that are too dangerous to have in the family groups for their feeding time. It was a special day since they all got 2 bottles of milk (normal) plus biscuits and packets of chips which was the special part, they all got very excited, but greeted Sylvia amazingly, grooming her through the bars etc. These guys were inside concrete barred cages for half the day (i.e. the afternoon) and in the mornings they get to roam about a large fenced enclosure. But because the electric fences run on solar, they cant risk the males getting out in the arvo if the power runs out.
At one point after all the commotion, the resident hippo named Billy (but it’s a girl… case of mistaken identity due to injuries when she arrived) turned up. She freely roams the land there and is an orphan herself. She arrived 20 years earlier and Sheila raised her on bottles and she still gets 2 bottles of milk a day as well as a lot of veggies in the evening and morning and just general grazing wherever she likes. She turned up and walked into the open doorway between a few of the enclosures, apparently she likes to sleep in there sometimes, there used to be a door but she walked through it one day… its funny though since she has to suck in all the fat to fit through the door, and all the slime from her wallowing in mud all day comes off on the door frame. All the humans had to walk up the stairs above the door to get out of her way, she´s not aggressive by nature but they don’t like risking it.
After that we went to the orhphanage where there were the younger, less aggressive chimps, including a few accidental babies (all the females have contraception implants since they do not have the funds to support any more chimps). It was crazy! All of them so excited about getting chips, running around and stealing each others biscuits. They get to spend longer out in the big enclosures and only come in at night and at feeding times. We spoke to Dominic who is like the head caretaker and had worked there for 20 years (since his father died, he took his position) and he told us about some of them and where they came from. Lots of them are there as a result of illegal poaching, some are given to them by rich families in various countries in Africa who liked a baby chimp, but not an adult. Others come from zoos and circuses around the world. All in all there are about 120 odd chimps there. Because ZAWA, the environmental entity in Zambia wanted to increase the permit cost per chimp brought to Chimfunshi there have been no new orphans for 6 years as there is not enough funding to bring them in. They never buy or search for black market chimps as it would encourage the poaching. After the feeding, all of us, plus Tess, Sylvia’s dog, piled into a 2 door 4x4, and heade back to the office where the volunteers were staying their last night there. We got driven by Sylvia around the rest of the project, 4 bug enclosures with family groups living in them 24-7 and only getting fed twice a day instead of 3 times, they browse a lot on the trees. They are more wild, but still come and visit Sylvia as she drives past, she even gives her favourites some biscuits on the way, through the electric fence… also to stop one in particular from throwing stones at the car which he apparently loves to do.
We drove through the flood plain that surrounds Kafue River which runs through the property, it was beautiful! They had recently done backburning on it in case of bushfires, and there were a million small anthills all over one section, looked like a tiny city. We stopped next to the campsite to pick up a few things from the guy who runs the farming section of the land, his family was so sweet, a toddler having a bath with a beaming smile and a 6 or 7 yr old daughter who was very shy. They had an amazing view over the river, and up stream we could see the sunset starting and people in canoes crossing the river. We could see our driver next door in his car in the campsite eating dinner too.
Finally we drove back to the orphanage and where Sylvia and Sheila´s house is and they showed us to the caravan and where the toilets were, then invited us to play scrabble. They also have a few large aviaries with the very endangered African Grey parrot which can mimic human voices very scarily but also whistle very nice tunes together, there were rabbits on the floor of the aviary. They had one rescued eagle which had arrived 3 days earlier from a mine with a missing wing but was doing fine, and a lot of chickens, geese, turkeys and peacocks roaming around the place. There was also a troop of monkeys stealing any food they could, especially from Billy´s food bowl (which was an old tyre cut in half) and a lone baboon who was a rescue years before but before they could take him to a release site with other baboons he escaped and now lives quite happily with the monkeys. It was like my perfect house!! Lol. We played an excellent game of scrabble, Dario getting a lot of help from Sylvia, but Sheila still won! We sucked at it really. Then we went and prepared dinner on a braai they had setup for us. They invited us in to watch a movie, and since Sheila is now 80 she gets the pick, so we watched Grease, and since we were so poor, they shouted us a beer each which was soooo nice!! Dario had never seen Grease!! So it was an education… not one he liked too much I think, but he got through it, then we went off to bed. The caravan was very comfy!
Next morning we were up early since I had organized to go on a bushwalk!! I was so excited, we all had breakfast together in the house with Sylvia and Sheila, then paid all the money owing before I got an overall top put over my t-shirt, got told only one camera allowed in the enclosure, no hair ties, no jewelary and no hat. I filled my pockets with biscuits and chocolates that Sylvia gave me and off I went into the enclosure with Dominic as my guide and chimp expert. The chimps got let out and it was AMAZING!! Dario watched from the roof (he had opted out and said he didn’t mind since it was too much money) and took photos and videos. He spent the morning with Sheila and watched Billy get her two bottles of milk and saw lots of baby photos that Sheila had of the hippo. I met 6 chimps, Didi rushed to me first and jumped onto my shoulders then picked my pockets for chocolate and biscuits. Then I met Karla who had her baby Kitty (a little boy) on her back, he was 6 months old and sooo cute!! Then Sims a bigger male and Dominic a smaller male came to get treats and lastly Cindy, a larger female came and loves chocolate more than anything. Didi led me off down the bush path and off we went for 2 hours. She then jumped up and I carried her for a while down the path. The chimps were so much fun, coming back to socialize and take more treats, then running and playing or grooming each other in the trees or under bushes nearby. We followed where they went, but if Dominic (the person) wanted to go they would follow his lead. In the end I carried little Dominic (the chimp and the person´s namesake) back to the entrance at the end of the walk, he was so sweet. Apparently he is usually a little rascal, but not with me, he loves kisses and hugs! For the last 10 mins we all sat around the waterhole near the entrance and they ate the last bits of chocolate they could find and Dominic lay in my lap and played with Kitty who was next to me… OMG, ill never forget it. I was sad to have to leave them after my 2 hours was up, and Didi followed us to the gate to say goodbye, doing somersaults on the way next to me too.
I walked out feeling exhilarated, and it’s the only place in the world you can do this which made it even more special. Dominic told me they do they walk 2 or 3 times a week, mostly the tourists are foreign miners working near Chingola, so I was glad I did it on my own, rather than with a big group. Our driver was ready to go, so we packed up everything and said our sincerest thanks to Sheila for her hospitality as we really did have an amazing time there and drove to the office to say goodbye to Sylvia and get our receipt. We hugged and then drove back to Chingola. We were told by Sylvia that her friend at Voyagers had a mini library where we could maybe buy or swap some books (we had read all of ours and needed some for the 2 day train to Dar es Salaam the next day) so we went there first. She was lovely, all the books were packed away since they were moving them but she made us follow her home in the taxi, then unpacked some books for us (all very well organized, alphabetical with a printed list including which box number they were in) and we swapped books and gave a donation for the books too since all proceeds go to Chimfunshi. Then we went to the only ATM that didn’t have a huge line (it was pay day so everyone was withdrawing cash at the banks, the one we used was not a bank), then Ken (our driver) dropped us at the bus station. We took a bus (not a mini but not a big one, 25 seaterish) to Kitwe, 50km south then got another to Kapiri Mposhi.
Half way there we stopped to let someone off at a market on the side of the highway, and all of a sudden a woman crossing the road from the other side gets hit by a landcruiser that must have been going over 100km an hour, thankfully she didn’t get the full force of the car, but enough that things went flying and she lay on the road with her head bleeding severly and didn’t move, we all thought she was dead. All the women started screaming and all the men stood shocked on the side of the road, everyone is the bus jumped up, I didn’t know what to do, I was trying to figure out if anything in our medkits would help, decided not and grabbed Dario´s cheap skivvy we had bought in Argentina as it was sitting on my chair and raced out after him. Dario was the first to go and see if she was alive, she started moving, but was obviously in shock and Dario told her to stay still. The Landcruiser came back and pulled up and some men stopped all the traffic and helped lift her into the back of the 4x4. We gave them the skivy to help staunch the bleeding but the people in the car didn’t quite know what to do. They drove off and we all piled back into the bus. We felt a but sheepish, we had been afraid of touching her blood, but we tried to do what we could. We hoped she would be ok. She was able to move arms and legs and body, it was the head injury that was the worry. The bus ride was very quiet after that and we spoke to the money man sitting next to Dario about police and hospitals. The family had been there and had taken the registration of the Landcruiser to report it, even though he was obviously trying to help, it still needed to be reported. The closest hospitals were about 30 mins or more away.
We werevery upset for the rest of the evening. We arrived in Kapiri about an hour later and got a taxi to take us to a hotel, the only one in the lonely planet didn’t exist anymore, but the driver took us to the Novotel… not an actual one, but they only had a single bed available. But luckily they had a Novotel number 2 nearby and we haggled them down from 200,000 to 130,000 for a double room, which ended up being really nice with cable tv etc. We ordered dinner from Novotel number 1 as it was the only one with a restaurant (20,000 for a steak, chips and salad) and a few beers… we needed them and water to be dropped off for us. It took a while but we appreciated the meager meal since we were starving from not eating much all day since brekky. We watched tv and fell asleep. Next morning we were up, showered, breakfasted and in a taxi by 8.30. We went to an internet café with all our gear, then to the supermarket… which wasn’t very super and we had to try a few small places before we got some at least of what we needed for our train ride. We bought fruit from the ladies on the side of the road and took a taxi to the Tazara train station to go to Dar es Salaam. We arrived really early. I organized the tickets, had to show my voucher from Lusaka then get assigned a compartment. Then for 2 hours we took turns exploring the market next door, buying boiled eggs for lunch and some cordial. Finally the train appeared on the platform opposite the 1st-2nd class lounge we were in and they started the boarding process. We found our carriage and compartment with a bit of help and settled in. Surprisingly the train left on time!! It’s a very long train with cargo as well as passengers. So we left at 1400hrs (they all speak in 24 hours there) and watched the country glide past. We had numerous stops and numerous knocks on the door to check tickets, order lunch or just people getting the wrong room.