From Mana Pools National Park we returned to the Jecha Point Fish Lodge for another two nights of R and R. It is such a beautiful place to camp on lovely green grass under big shady trees and the not to be forgotten endless horizon swimming pool overlooking the Zambezi River. Also staying at the camp site was a bloke Martin from South Africa but originally from Holland who had sold up everything and bought a small 4WD camper to travel around Africa. He was still involved with a business that organises places for young international volunteers in projects in Southern Africa. Martin joined us for dinner one night and we had a great time sharing stories of our travels. We also caught up on things like laundry and I did some maintenance on both the van and the Land Cruiser discovering while I did this a crack in the chassis that the canopy mounts on. Not urgent but we will need to address it at some stage soon and the owner of the lodge gave us a contact in Lusaka, Bruce at a business called Ali Boats. We left the next morning bound for Lusaka to get the repair done and it was again a case of crossing the border at Chirundu which was quite an easy process because we are getting better at it now! Pauline goes to Immigration with our passports and arranges Visas while I go to Customs and organise the Carnet de Passages to be checked and signed. Then it was an easy couple of hors drive to Lusaka where Bruce was waiting for us and put us straight in the workshop. We ended up having to take the cross bar out so that Bruce could get to it and get a good weld done. So there were was no way of lifting the canopy so we emptied everything out and Bruce pulled in four blokes from a construction site next door two lift the canopy while we pulled the cross member out! Bruce did a great job of the welding and then the four blokes lifted again while we slid the cross beam back in and bolted it all down again.
Meanwhile as I helped Bruce with the Land Cruiser Pauline spotted a woman pull up outside the factories and open her car boot which was full of cooked food. She comes around every lunchtime to sell meals to all the workers and I must say she was very popular. The smell of the food was intoxicating and was a mix of Pap (maize meal porridge) sausage meat balls, chicken casserole, beef stew and Pauline went over to say hello and take some photos and found that you could get a full plate of food for 25 Kwacha or $2.97 Aussie.
Also while we were at the workshop we heard a bit of thunder and then about ten minutes later the rain came down as heavy as I had ever seen before and continued like that for a good half hour before disappearing just as suddenly. The sun then came back out and after another half an hour we couldn’t tell that there had been any rain and it was just as hot again in no time! This was the first rain we had seen since leaving Cape Town two and a half months ago.
We stayed that night in a campsite in Lusaka and for the first time we had Zebra wander through our camp! The next morning we had a long drive through to Chipata as there really wasn’t much in between that we wanted to have a look at and we were starting to look at our current progress in relation to needing to be in Nairobi, Kenya by the 6th of December to fly home for Christmas. We overnighted in Chipata and then left early for the South Luangwa National Park which was an easy two hour drive. We stopped along the way to have a look at some locals who were firing a large stack of hand made mud bricks. They pick the location that has a good source of the raw material and in this case it was a huge termite nest but they still had to carry the water in from a considerable distance. The mud bricks are made up in moulds and then turned out to dry on the ground before being stacked up in a form that will enable them to light a fire underneath to bake them. They then cover the whole stack with a layer of mud to keep the heat in and then lights the fires underneath and keep them burning for two days and nights. It was very interesting and the family doing this were very friendly and were happy to tell us all about it.
We camped three nights at a place called the Wildlife Camp which was about 8 kilometres from the park gates as there are no camps inside the park. It was a great place and we had an amazing number of different animals come through the camp including Vervet monkeys, baboons, elephants, giraffe, hippo and a family of about 20 mongoose. It also looked like the “Build Up” was starting to happen because each afternoon now we could hear thunder off in the distance and there were isolated dumps of short rain squalls coming through. We also met a great bunch of people including Laura who is travelling from Scotland to Cape Town in a Morris Minor car while raising funds for the Cancer Society. Check out her website here http://www.morri2africa. com
We also met an amazing young woman called Stephanie who has a Masters of Biology and a Doctorate in Zoology. In short Steph is involved in poaching forensics through DNA and was really interesting to talk to. She was here doing a bit of research to see if the Lodge was a good place to hold a training workshop for park rangers. We also met some South Africans two of whom had the V8 Land Cruiser like mine and for the first time I was able to talk to an owner who had actually used the high sulpha diesel that we will have to use soon. He had had no problems at all and so my mind was set at ease. We spent the first day doing our own game drive leaving at 6am and staying out until 1pm and then returned to swim and laze around the pool.
On the way back to camp after our self drive game drive we came across a guide vehicle stopped on the side of the road with what looked like a flat tyre so I stopped to offer assistance and apparently I was the first one in over 30 minutes to have done so. His jack was not working so I dug mine out to get him going again and he was so happy he offered to take us out on a half price night drive. What a shame we had already booked one through where we were staying.
That afternoon we went out on a night game drive with our guide Joseph and spotter George along with Laura and Steph and a four others. It was great not having to drive and George was able to provide us with three seperate leopard sightings as well as lion, hyena, chameleon and lots more. One of the Leopard sightings was before sunset and he was happily just walking through the bush when it came upon a herd of about 12 zebra We thought here we go we might witness a kill here! But no, the herds stallion zebra pursued the leopard and tried kicking and biting him until the leopard gave up and shot up a tree and we last saw him still up the tree and the stallion waiting for him below!
Our last day was spent washing the two vehicles which had not been washed for quite some time and they came up looking like new. It was really pleasant spending a day in the camp enjoying watching all the wildlife come and go and lazing by the pool. I even helped out a young South African bloke fix his punctured fuel tank! We left the next morning to go through our 9th border crossing from Zambia into Malawi which was quite an easy and quick crossing.
Next we visit Malawi “The Warm Heart of Africa”